The ending may not have been storybook, but the ride sure as heck was a lot of fun. Let’s go on a bit of a walk down memory lane as we look at the five most memorable moments of the 2019 season.
And boy, was it hard to narrow it down to only five.
Honorable Mention: Milestones
Before we get into the top five moments of the season, an honorable mention goes out to the all the individual milestones that Yankees players (and managers) reached this season. First, on April 30, CC Sabathia struck out former teammate John Ryan Murphy for his 3000th strikeout, as he became just the third lefty to reach the mark. In August, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge each hit their 100th home run, making Sanchez the second-fastest ever to reach the milestone (behind only Ryan Howard), while Judge became the third-fastest ever. Gleyber Torres, meanwhile, had five multi-homer days against the Orioles, a Major League record (and he’s only 22!).
It was a good year for individual milestones in the Bronx.
5. London Callin’
On June 29, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox invaded London Stadium, bringing their historic rivalry to foreign soil and playing the first ever Major League Baseball game in Europe. In truly American fashion, the Yankees partied like it was 1775, defeating red-wearing Bostonians in both games. Although the games played like bar league softball, with 50 runs and 26 extra-base hits in two games, it was a truly historic moment for baseball — one that the 2019 Yankees will be proud of.
4. Savages in the Box
Two rallying cries were born on July 18, “Savages in the Box” and “Let Brett Bang.” First, Brett Gardner began banging the top of the dugout with his bat...
...which was caught on camera by complete accident, as the YES Network was showing Aaron Boone complaining to the umpire about the strike zone.
Eventually, Boone was ejected, prompting his now-famous, “Savages in the Box” rant that has sparked T-shirts, Twitter hashtags, and much more.
3. Back-to-Back Walk-off HRs
On August 31, DJ LeMahieu sent the Yankees home against the Oakland Athletics, jumping on the first pitch of the 11th inning after striking out three times earlier in the game. It was their first walk-off homer of the season — but not their last. The next day, on Mike Mussina Hall of Fame day, Brett Gardner and Mike Ford (pinch-hitting for Clint Frazier) would go back-to-back in the bottom of the 9th, to tie and win the game as Tommy Kahnle went absolutely bonkers in the bullpen.
To this day, I’m still not sure what was the best part of that second game: Mike Ford’s bat flip, Brett Gardner’s excitement while carrying the Gatorade cooler, or Tommy Kahnle being himself.
2. Aaron Hicks’ diving catch
Having watched the battles between the Yankees and Twins in 2019, you would be forgiven for expecting a much more competitive matchup than we got in the ALDS. Their regular-season matchups were must-see TV, and none more so than the 10-inning marathon on July 23.
Going into the top of the 8th inning, the Yankees were down 9-5, with starter Domingo German run from the game in the fourth inning. The Yanks rallied for five runs in the top of the 8th, however, before giving the lead back up in the bottom of the inning on a Miguel Sano home run. They would take a 12-11 lead off an Aaron Hicks home run in the top of the 9th, but the Twins would tie the game in the bottom of the inning (a small miracle in itself, given that the bases were loaded with nobody out). In the top of the 10th, the Yankees would score two runs off a Gleyber Torres single and a passed ball. Following the pattern, however, things continued to be interesting in the bottom of the inning.
After Adam Ottavino walked the bases loaded, Chad Green came in to face Max Kepler. On a 2-1 count, Kepler drove a pitch deep into the left-center gap. And Aaron Hicks happened.
It was an exciting play to end an exciting game. It lasted more than 5 hours, but it felt like no time had passed at all.
On September 19, with their 100th win of the season, the New York Yankees won the American League East division for the first time since 2012. While not a World Series championship nor a pennant, a divisional title is still an accomplishment, one that had been absent from the Bronx since 2012. It meant that, for the first time since the adoption of the Wild Card Game, the Yankees would not need to go through the one-game gauntlet in order to play in the ALDS.
It was a true testament to the team’s talent and toughness that, despite dealing with a historic number of injuries, the Yankees managed to not only win the division, but do so in a dominant fashion, with a seven-game lead. Perhaps not the title that Yankees players or fans wanted, but a sign of a solid season nonetheless — and a good sign for things to come.
Well there you have it. Disagree with my list? Tell us yours in the comments below!