While most people around here hate to see the New York Yankees win, myself included, I think we can all agree that if they win because former Mariner Raul Ibanez hits a game-tying homer in the ninth inning and a walk-off homer in the 12th inning ... well, that's slightly tolerable.
Ibanez, who was pinch hitting for another former Mariner, Alex Rodriguez, who is in them midst of his semi-annual postseason swoon, hit a solo homer in the ninth and then a walk-off homer in the 12th to give the Yankees and improbable win over the Orioles.
This much I can say, I have not covered a better person or a harder worker than Ibanez. In the midst of the 101-loss 2008 season where Ibanez was the only guy putting up numbers, he was there to be a voice and team representative. He was the essence of a true professional. During his time with the Mariners, he was beyond prepared, put in extra work every day and never once came to spring training out of shape. The guy understood that for him to be even a little successful, he had to prepare maniacally in the offseason and daily during the season. A few years ago I wrote a column on Ibanez's attitude toward the game. I wish I could link to it. But that's another story. He had a great story about Jose Lopez and Yuni Betancourt joining him for offseason workouts in Miami. Mike Morse was a regular workout partner with Raul and called them the hardest thing he'd ever done. Anyway, when I mentioned that Lopez and Yuni had told me they were planning on working out with Raul in the offseason, he smiled and shook his head.
"I've heard that before," he said. "They came a few times last year, but didn't last. Those workouts are all about what you put in. I don't know how good they are at putting in."
Read this column by Yahoo's Jeff Passan on Ibanez ... it's worth it.
Over in the Bay Area, the crazy A's are still hanging on. They forced a game 5 by getting three off of Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the ninth inning to cap off an improbable win.
Yahoo's Tim Brown has a great column on the win.
Watching Coco Crisp's walk-off single and the reaction of the fans, you can't help but be a little jealous of teams and cities getting to experience postseason baseball. Someday.