Nothing much stood out about yesterday's press conference welcoming Mark Teixeira to the Yankees. His wife got a bouquet of flowers, Teixeira pronounced how excited he was to become a Yankee and then they handed him a brand new jersey for a round of picture taking.
That's when things took a bit of a right turn. The number 25 was stitched across the back of the jersey and, all of a sudden, it was 2001 all over again. There was a first baseman, the best of the free agent crop, saying all the same things about pinstriped pride and his desire to win championships. There were grinning executives and managers, a crush of photographers and reporters and grandiose expectations about World Series rings that would rain out of the sky.
The first baseman that day was Jason Giambi, of course, and he did many things during his seven years with the Yankees. He made a lot of money, swatted quite a few home runs and even made a whopper of an apology for using steroids. He never won a World Series, though, and giving Teixeira the same number that Giambi wore made for what had to be an unintentional bit of symbolism from the Bombers.
They couldn't have meant to remind everyone watching that signing big name players for massive amounts of money doesn't guarantee any great future success. Teixeira is younger now than Giambi was then, he's a better defensive player and has no need of a haircut to fit into the Yankee system, but that number 25 links them in ways far beyond a shared position.
It links them as would-be Yankee saviors. In 2001, Giambi was supposed to usher in a new era of titles after the one-year blip caused by Luis Gonzalez's bloop. Now Teixeira is charged with the same task, only with more pressure because of the team's absence from October. Teixeira is truly replacing Giambi in more ways than one.