Way back in 2002, when Jason Giambi was in his first season with the Yankees after signing (for the time) a huge free agent contract, people doubted him. Filling the Super-Big Shoes of Tino Martinez is a bid deal; a core Yankee and close personal friend of Derek Jeter, after all.
Giambi got off to a slow start in New York in that first season. Well, “slow” being a relative term. Giambi was hitting “only” .282/.378/.456 (126 wRC+) at the end of April, which spelled disaster for many scribes following the Yankees. Of course, Giambi ended the season with at .314/.435/.598 (175 wRC+)… but midway through May (and he killed it in May, anyway, with a 206 wRC+) people were grumbling.
Then came the May 17 game against the Twins in New York. In bottom of the 14th inning, late at night with the rain coming down and very few people left in the stands, the Yankees were down 12-9. The bases were loaded as Giambi (already 3-7 on the night) came to the plate. Giambi drilled the first pitch from Mike Trombley over the wall for an extra-innings, come-from-behind, walkoff grand slam. The “Giambi has finally earned his pinstripes” stuff started right away, naturally. I am not sure it took, given that Giambi would be the subject of grumbling over the next few years with injuries, PED stuff, and, of course, the Yankees failure to win a World Series with him on the team. Never mind that he hit .260/.404/.521 with 209 homers with the Yankees (Don Mattingly himself only hit 222 in his own Yankees career, and in about twice as many plate appearances). Whether or not it finally took, at the time of the grand slam, at least, it was hyped as Giambi’s Big True Yankee Moment, one which still has resonance.
Although it was not nearly as dramatic in just about any dimension: expectations, contracts, or game situation, but last night, shortstop Stephen Drew may have become a True Red Sock in somewhat similar fashion with a grand slam. Sure, it happened in the top of the third with the Sox already up 4-0, but it still generated a reaction.