The Yankees haven't played a game in the Bronx since the Fourth of July. That day, Marcus Thames singled in the winning run in the bottom of the tenth, pie was thrown, and everyone went home to watch fireworks in a good mood. When they return to Yankee Stadium tonight, the scene will be a bit more somber.
Tonight's game will begin with a moment of silence for both Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner, as well as a video tribute to the longtime owner. (At Old Timers' Day tomorrow — an event that encourages reminiscing even in years when the team hasn't lost two iconic figures — Sheppard gets a video tribute of his own.) There will be wreaths, and special patches, and a West Point color guard.
Then at some point, they'll (finally) play baseball again. Important games, too — or, at least, as important as games can be in mid-July. The Rays trail the Yankees by just two games in the standings, and the last time the teams met, for a short two-game set back in May, Tampa shelled both A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. (They'll start tomorrow and Sunday, respectively.) CC Sabathia gets the ball tonight against James Shields. After a rough week off the field, his first pitch can't come soon enough.