This time, the schedule-maker got it right.
On the night the Yankees honor George Steinbrenner, baseball gives us Yankees vs. Rays. In the first game the Yankees will play since Steinbrenner's death on Tuesday morning, the Yankees will play the team that Steinbrenner always insisted they beat.
Yes, of course, he insisted they beat every team. Yes, of course, the series with the Red Sox and the series with the Mets always held special relevance to him.
But so did the series with the Rays, even back when they were the awful Devil Rays. Even when it was a solitary meaningless game in spring training.
Tampa was Steinbrenner's adopted hometown. Tampa was where he spent most of his time. He was not going to have his Yankees lose to any team from Tampa (or even St. Petersburg).
Yankees-Rays games are no longer meaningless. The teams enter the second half of the season separated by just two games in the American League East standings, with the Red Sox and the AL Central contenders close enough behind so that a wild-card berth isn't guaranteed to the team that fails to finish first.
The Yankees and Rays will meet 13 times during the second half. And the first meeting kicks off this first post-All-Star edition of 3 to watch:
1. In other places, you can argue about Steinbrenner's legacy. In the Bronx, especially in the moments leading up to Rays at Yankees, Friday night (7:05 EDT) at Yankee Stadium , you can be sure the focus will be on the championships won and the successes celebrated. The Yankees will have a double-tribute, honoring both Steinbrenner and longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard, but they've pushed the video tribute to Sheppard to Saturday (which is also Old-Timer's Day). Friday's ceremony will concentrate on Steinbrenner -- who, if he were still here, would be concentrating intensely on Friday's game.
2. Sometime just after Stephen Strasburg's stunning debut, I vowed to include every Strasburg start in 3 to watch, until further notice. It doesn't feel right to end it just yet, not so soon after an All-Star Game that judging by the low ratings could have used Strasburg's star power. Instead, Strasburg will try to awaken a little baseball interest in South Florida, in Nationals at Marlins, Friday night (7:10 EDT) at Sun Life Stadium .
3. When Justin Morneau went on the disabled list last September, it was supposed to mean the end of the Twins. Instead, they went 17-4 in the 21 games he missed, including the memorable Game 163 win over the Tigers that sent them into the playoffs. Now Morneau is out again, on the DL while recovering from a concussion suffered on July 7 in Toronto. The Twins fell into third place the day Morneau was hurt. They're 1-4 since then, more because of poor pitching than because of the Morneau-less offense. The one win came from Carl Pavano, who starts again, in White Sox at Twins, Saturday night (7:10 EDT) at Target Field .