We hate the Yankees. But we love Raul Ibañez. We are indifferent to the Orioles, but love Jim Thome. Right? Last night's thriller in New York saw Raul Ibañez hit the game-tying home run in the bottom of the 9th inning with one out off of 51-save closer Jim Johnson, and then a walkoff shot in the bottom of the 12th to lead off the inning. The Yankees-Orioles matchup has Phillies fans caught between a rock and a hard place.
It all started with what may have been one of the greatest insults to $30 million Yankees 3B-turned-DH Alex Rodriguez. Scuffling in the series, Yankees manager pulled the highest paid player in baseball in exchange for 38 year-old Raul Ibañez, a .250 hitter this season as a part-time DH. With anti-Rodriguez sentiment spreading in the Bronx, this was a gutsy move for Girardi. If Ibañez failed, Girardi left a $30 million player on the bench for an aged veteran with little left in the take. But alas, Ibañez hit a game-tying shot that validated going forward that Alex Rodriguez is no longer the three-hole hitter no matter what.
After the home run, Jim Thome looked on from the Orioles dugout. This could be his last chance in a Hall of Fame career to finally win the elusive World Series ring he has long desired. Seventh all-time on the home run list and with never a mention of ties to steroids in the drug-era, Thome has long been one of the good guys in the game but never experienced the thrill of being a World Champion. 42 years old and with a bad back, Phillies fans know that the end is near and want to see Thome get his ring.
Over on our Facebook page, Baseball Talk Philadelphia, fans had a lot to say about their beloved former Phillie Raul Ibañez:
Chrissy McDonald writes, "I still love you!! I wish that we never got rid of you ... stupid fools!!!" Jess Kresge showed his love for Ibañez: "Wow! How 'bout Rauuuuuul?!!!". Tyler Roach said, "Great guy, has my full respect".
But, when it comes down to the two players, fans seem to want Jim Thome:
Lynn Sherrick writes, "Thome vs Ibanez- I'll take Thome". Isaiah Holt agreed: "Rather it be thome than Raul". Bev Miller said, "Great job but I am rooting for the O's. ♥ Raul!" After the first shot, Matt Rohrbach said, "oh lord how i'd love for thome to hit the winning home run in this game..."
As much as non-Bronx baseball fans seem to dislike the Yankees and pull for Thome, it is hard to root against Raul. Personally, I want to see Thome get his ring.
Some fans have remarked that "New York stole our Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuullll chant". Well, not exactly. You have to factor in the Noo Yawk accent. I can hear Mike Francesca say it: