When babysitting a future major-league baseball player, here’s a reminder that there’s always a tiny chance of that kid a few decades later getting you back in a big way for making him go to bed early or to eat all of his vegetables.
The fact that Boston manager John Farrell actually used to babysit Matt Holliday occasionally in Oklahoma back in the 1980s sure made for an interesting footnote on Saturday.
Holliday, who belted a massive home run to first inject himself into the heated rivalry with the Red Sox earlier this summer, did it again in his long-awaited first game back from the disabled list with a tiebreaking three-run shot to propel the Yankees to a critical 5-1 victory at the Stadium.
“Yeah, I’ve known him a long time,” Holliday said about Farrell with a smile after the game.
There had to be times this summer went that memory seemed as long to Holliday as the 26 games he missed while on the disabled list with a lumbar strain, on top of the 14 additional games he’d been shelved bridging June and July with a viral infection.
Still, Joe Girardi hardly was surprised that the seven-time All-Star made an immediate impact in his first appearance since Aug.4 in Cleveland.
“I think it means that he went about his business the right way and tried to get right,” Girardi said. “Just a huge hit for us…and we’ve missed that from Matty.
“We thought that he could get back, because he’s dealt with these type of things before. We weren’t sure when, but we knew that we had to be patient because the importance of him to our club and what he’s done in the past, and being in this situation before – because he’s been in so many playoff runs – that it was important to be patient.”
After dropping an offensive clunker on Friday night against retread righty Doug Fister, the Yanks’ lineup similarly needed to wait out former All-Star lefty Drew Pomeranz, who was locked in a 1-1 knot with Masahiro Tanaka into the sixth.
And then Holliday’s three-run blast to left field, his 17th homer of the season, served as a towering and tangible example of how much the Yanks have missed the righty-swinging DH as both a powerful presence in the lineup and as a veteran mentor in the clubhouse over two DL stints over the past three injury-plagued and/or unproductive months.
“I’m excited to be back out there, and to be able to contribute today was fun,” offered the 37-year-old Holliday, who was visibly pumped as he rounded the bases and as he made his way back to the dugout. “I mean, these are big games. I’m excited. I want to be part of this. I want to be part of this team.
“I’m just trying to look ahead here. I’m focused on the next month and what opportunities that we have as a team and that I have to contribute.”
It certainly won’t hurt Holliday’s pinstriped resume that perhaps his two most significant singular contributions to date during his debut Bronx campaign have come against Farrell and the first-place Red Sox.
Holliday’s father, Tom, was the pitching coach at Oklahoma State when Farrell was a pitcher there in the early 80s, and the latter occasionally was entrusted with watching Matt as a child. When Tom Holliday later was promoted to manager, his former hurler became a member of his coaching staff.
Decades later, Farrell’s Red Sox bested Matt Holliday’s Cardinals in the 2013 World Series.
But on July 15 of this year, Holliday clubbed a game-tying homer in the ninth inning against all-everything Boston closer Craig Kimbrel in a 16-inning Yankee win.
Due to a lengthy slump and his back injury thereafter, he hadn’t gone deep again until Saturday.
With two runners on and Pomeranz around 100 pitches, however, Farrell stuck with the lefty and allowed him to face Holliday.
Two pitches later it was a 4-1 game, and the Boston manager understandably didn’t really want to get into his Holliday connection afterward.
“That’s part of life, I guess,” Farrell replied with a sigh.
Regardless, Holliday’s has been a baseball life that he believes provides him with the proper perspective as he approaches salvaging his second half during this playoff push.
“Sure. You try to learn from your past, right?” Holliday said. “I would like to win a championship and I think we have a talented enough team to do something like that. I want to do everything I can to contribute in any way I can. That’s how I’m looking at it.
“We’re in first place in the wild-card, and once you get in (the postseason), with the talent we have…there’s been less talented teams than this win the World Series. I look around and see the potential. We currently sit in a playoff position and hopefully we can make it easier on ourselves and get in a better position. We have (nearly) a month to try to do that.”
Holliday certainly has enough time left to help that along, including another crack at his former babysitter’s club on Sunday night.