Kenny Lofton; Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty

Never in baseball will you hear the second game of a season considered a must win, but today's Yankee game against Tampa Bay was considered just that. After their loss to the Devil Rays yesterday, George Steinbrenner would expect a win from his $183 million Bronx All-Stars. They delivered by beating the F-Rays, 12-1 (box score). Jack Curry of The Times said it best:

Only with the Yankees could an 8-3 loss in a faraway season opener lead to questions about the immediate future. After [Alex] Rodriguez was asked if he had ever been on a team for which the second game of a 162-game grind was a must victory, he pressed his nose with his fingers, began to smile and stayed silent. Stop teasing, Rodriguez's body language said.

But the reporters, who know that Steinbrenner is maniacal about losses of any shape and size, especially to a team from Tampa, where Steinbrenner lives, did not let Rodriguez escape without responding.

A-Rod responded, "It's a first." Asked the same question, Reggie Jackson said, "Yeah, it is. You lose that and we'll go straight to New York." Lucky for everyone in the Yankees organization, they won. Now they take the long flight back to the United States, flying to Florida for some more practice and exhibition games before they play Tampa Bay again on April 6th. Lucky for Yankee fans, games will be on at a reasonable time - no more baseball and bagels.