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If there was something to remember this season other than the final hurrah of the Stadium, it would be the Moose.

Today, Mike Mussina reached the 20-win plateau for the first time in his 18-year career, pitching six shutout innings, defeating the Red Sox 6-2 in a day-night doubleheader.

Mussina was visibly happy in the dugout after the game was over and when congratulated by his teammates. After Mussina came out in the sixth, an array of relief pitchers finished up the game and if not for the two runs allowed by Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees would have shut out the Red Sox. The Yankees have continued their amazing finish to the season, by winning their 12th out of last 14 games. Only if they could have played like this the rest of the season.

Mariano Rivera pitched for his 39th save on the season and probably won’t pitch again tonight, so he finishes the season with 39 saves and still has a decision to make whether he goes under the knife on his sore shoulder.

Aside from a good offensive performance from Xavier Nady, who hit a 3-run homer, the day belonged to Moose.

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I got a lot of personal satisfaction out of a game last night, watching the Yankees clobber the Red Sox, 19-8.

The game was delayed by two-plus hours of rain and the Yankees were able to take advantage of the delays, although the starting pitcher, Al Aceves was at his worst in the majors this season.

Six Yankees had multi-hit games, and Robinson Cano drove in five and Brett Gardner drove in four. We seriously need to keep these two guys. Keep Cano at second and put Brett Gardner in center field and Damon in right and Nady in left and Matsui at DH (and he can platoon the outfield as well).

The highlight of the game was the Yankees preventing the Sox from clinching the AL East division title. I’m really pleased Tampa Bay won the title this year, so kudos to them. That means the Red Sox start the ALDS at Anaheim, where they boast a very poor road record. The Red Sox are nearly unbeatable at home, but flawed away.

Jeter left the game with his left hand still hurting. I doubt we’ll see him again this season. Andy Pettitte was shut down with an inflammed rotator cuff and Mariano Rivera is out for the season with tests showing he has bone chips (?) in his shoulder and he’s weighting surgery or rehab and shots. I’d opt for surgery if I were him.

The 161st game of the season is today at 3:55pm on FOX. Why FOX decided to air this game instead of Chicago vs. Milwaukee or Minnesota vs. Kansas City or Florida vs. the Mets puzzles me.

In 1995, I was 16 years old, a junior in high school. Up to that point, I had never seen the Yankees in the playoffs and every year for me the highlight of my season would be watching Don Mattingly, and to a lesser effect, Howead Johnson, Dwight Gooden, Bobby Bonilla, Darryl Strawberry all on the Mets.

In 1995, the Yankees entered the playoffs for the first time under Joe Torre. They blew a 2-0 lead and fell to the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS.

In 1996, it was my Homecoming night my senior year and one of my classmates who was also from the New York area (we were students at a boarding school in Washington, DC) ran into the ballroom shouting that the Yankees had won the World Series. Those of us who were Yankees fans erupted into cheers.

Ever since, I’ve become accustomed to seeing the Yankees every October. Four World Series, lose two World Series, win six AL pennants and 10 Division Titles.

The shock of it all hasn’t hit me yet.

Derek Jeter appeared stunned while speaking to reporters last night. It’ll be the first time in his illustrious Yankee career that he won’t be playing in October. Is it a bad thing? No. Everyone must taste defeat sometimes.

That sometimes happened this year. I think it’s a good thing though, because we had a team that was clearly underachieving for two-thirds of the season. Aside from a hot July and an average June and August and a hot September, the Yankees pretty much did not perform to their expectations capabilities.

But, if you had told me in the beginning of the season that we’d lose Phil Hughes, Chien Ming-Wang, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui all to serious injuries that required months or more to recover, then I would have suspected a playoff berth would be quite difficult to accomplish. We’ve seen the emergence of Brett Gardner in place of a slumping Melky Cabrera. We’ve seen a successful trading pick-up in Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. We’ve seen the future of the bullpen and rotation in Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, Alfred Aceves, and more.

We’ve seen a 27-year old Mike Mussina return to form, circa-1996. With Mussina’s 19th victory last night, he has matched his career high and will be gunning for his first-ever 20-game season on Sunday.

We’ve seen too many disappointments and too many exciting moments. Sadly, this year, the disappointing moments outweighted the exciting moments.

We all know what happened last night. Anyone who’s a Yankee fan knows his or her spit knows what happened at 11:41pm last night.

In a fitting finale, Mariano Rivera entered to “Enter Sandman” and got the final three outs in the storied history of Yankee Stadium as the Yankees beat their old team moniker — the Baltimore Orioles, 7-3.

I watched the entire game on TV and it was pretty sentimental seeing every last ________. The last triple, the last double, the last home run, the last save, the last winning pitcher, the last Yankee at-bat. Especially the last speech.

Derek Jeter’s speech from the mound surrounded by his teammates will later be remembered along with Lou Gehrig’s famous July 4, 1939 speech and Babe’s final visit to the Stadium and all the Yankee greats and their final moments.

Jeter asked “the greatest fans in the universe” to remember the memories and bring them to the new stadium and to future generations. Eloquence is thy name, the Yankees Captain.

My favorite moments of the night?

  • Julia Ruth Steven’s ceremonial pitch.
  • The bleacher creatures’ “Roll Call” that was shown split screen on television. Awesome.
  • Damon’s homer. I was secretly hoping Damon would be the last. It would only be fitting that a former Red Sox hit the first homer and a former Red Sox hit the last homer. (Ruth and Damon.)
  • Seeing Phil Coke pitch. I hadn’t seen him in action until last night and he’s damn good.
  • Rivera making the jog from the bullpen.
  • Hearing Whitney Ford and Yogi Berra talk in the broadcast booth. (memo to ESPN: replace Morgan and Kay, honestly…)
  • Seeing the Yankees scoop up some dirt from the infield.
  • The Yankees’ last-lap around the Stadium
  • Finally, Jeter’s speech.

It was a night to remember — for all the Yankee fans out there.

PeteAbe said this afternoon exactly how I feel the Yankees should proceed every year with their roster:

The Yankees have two choices long term: Build through the draft and do it right or spend nine years patching it together and watching A-Rod chase down Bonds and making the playoffs on occasion. They need to build a program, not a series of teams. The most important players in this organization are Austin Jackson, the kids in Charleston and guys like Mark Melancon, Joba and Phil. Doing fantasy drafts of free agents hasn’t worked for eight years.

I’ve long been an advocate of rebuilding from within. That was the biggest reason the Yankees started their modern dynasty — they build around Jeter, Posada, Williams, Rivera, and Pettitte. Now that these players are in their mid-late thirties or retired, we need to look at the future.

These players can have an impact within the next three years: Chamberlain, Hughes, Kennedy, Melancon, Jackson, Coke, Sanchez, Brackman, Miranda, Gardner, Christian, and more.

The more the Yankees are patient and stop worrying about Boston and other teams, the better they will develop. Boston copied off the Yankees’ model of the 1990s and used their farm league to develop Pedroia, Ellsbury, Lester, and acquired the right players in Ortiz, Youkilis, Lowell, and Beckett.

As long as the Yankees look within, they will find success.

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