The latest installment of the rivalry featured one player (Jacoby Ellsbury) switching sides, in addition to controversy over the possible use of pine tar by Yankees starter Michael Pineda in a dominating performance. Beyond these storylines that induce fans to be at each other’s throats, there was one feel-good story that should make all baseball fans smile.
27-year-old utility infielder Dean Anna played five mediocre seasons in the San Diego Padres organization. Finally, in 2013 he had a breakout year at triple-A, winning the Pacific Coast League batting title. What followed was a trade to the Yankees, a team in desperate need of infield depth, and a chance to make a big league roster out of spring training. With the help of a Brendan Ryan injury, Anna did just that and made his major league debut on Apr. 4.
Fast forward to last night’s game. With one out in the fifth inning and a 1-1 count, Clay Buchholz threw what appeared to be a splitter that stayed up in the zone. Whatever the pitch was, it ended up in the right field seats for Anna’s first career home run.
He was already at second base by the time the ball sailed over the short porch in right, which I feel is incredibly indicative as to how he finally made it to the Show. Rather than watching the ball and showboating, he was running hard. He was thinking extra bases. He was hustling. Maybe he just had no idea the ball was going out of the park — after all, it was his first long ball. Regardless, he didn’t take anything for granted which is a refreshing sight in today’s game.
Considering how well Yangervis Solarte has been playing, when Ryan returns from the DL, Anna will likely be sent down to triple-A. But even if he never plays on a big league diamond again, he’ll always have that moment of delivering a blow in baseball’s greatest rivalry.
It may have only been worth one run on the scoreboard, but for Anna, who was greeted by Derek Jeter when he crossed the plate, it must have felt like he just won the World Series.