BRONX, N.Y. — Of those in the visiting clubhouse Thursday night, few knew better than Phil Coke how difficult it is to come into Yankee Stadium and beat the Bronx Bombers in their house.
Before being dealt to Detroit prior to the 2010 season in the Curtis Granderson deal, Coke was a member of the 2009 Yankees World Series team, getting to celebrate earning his first ring in the spacious confines of the home clubhouse. The scene after Game 5 of the ALDS was a little different, as Coke was popping bottles of non-alcoholic sparkling wine with the rest of his teammates in the visiting clubhouse after a shocking 3-2 win over his old team.
“This is unbelievable,” said Coke in an exclusive clubhouse interview with the Democrat.
“It’s one thing to do it as a Yankee, it’s another to be able to come in and have an opportunity to be able to win in their house and that’s what we did. They’re a class organization, they have no reason to hang their head. They’re a great organization and I love all the guys on the team, they’re great guys.”
Coke, who exchanged greetings with many Yankee players before games in this series, including Austin Romine during BP before Game 2, is one of just three “true” Thunder alumni left playing in the postseason, all on the Tigers. Coke, Austin Jackson and Omir Santos make up a trio of former Trenton players who advanced to the ALCS, despite many counting Detroit out even after they got out to a 2-1 series lead.
“You can’t count anybody out in playoff baseball, and we just showed why,” said Coke, who was called up to the big leagues before being able to pitch in the postseason for the Thunder in 2008.
Octavio Dotel and Lance Berkman, both of whom wore Thunder colors on rehab assignments, are the only two remaining former Thunder players in the postseason. Inbetween splashing teammates and…ahem, reporters in a very wet and wild clubhouse after Game 5, Coke said he isn’t look too far ahead to possibly facing them in his second World Series, instead focusing on the task at hand in the upcoming ALCS against defending American League champion-Texas.
“We’re enjoying this at the moment,” said Coke. “But then it’s all about the next day and preparing for the next round with the next team.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com