In the middle of the breathless excitement of Wednesday night’s wild-card game, and the Yankees' 7-2 win, there was a short, easily missed segment on the scoreboard, where current players were polled with a very important question.
Which one of your teammates, it asked, is most likely to wear a muscle-baring T-shirt?
There was barely any hesitation and the first half dozen Yankees were unanimous: Luke Voit. The responses came juxtaposed with images of the Yankees first baseman bench pressing, then bench pressing with one hand, with nary a shred of clothing on his arms. It was silly, and maybe a little bit ridiculous amid all the hoopla of a do-or-die game, but it very much represented part of what Voit has brought to this team: unabashed, wide-eyed fun, a willingness to give up pretense and say yes, this is all really cool. And a lot of muscle T-shirts, obviously.
Then, the sixth inning showed the other thing that Voit has brought to this Yankee team — the one that makes all this possible: The kid can rake.
"I just never thought I’d play for the Yankees and now I’m playing center stage in the world and I’m having the time of my life," Voit said, covered in champagne.
Voit was integral in providing a bit of cushion for the Yankees in this, his first ever playoff game. His two-run triple, off the top of the wall in right, scored Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton and, at the time, gave the Yankees a 5-0 lead. One batter later, Voit scored on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly – a wild slide in an effort to evade Jonathan Lucroy’s tag, that saw his hand just brush home plate before Lucroy’s glove went down. The play was challenged, and it was close, but the ruling on the field stood.
"I thought I hit it out," Voit said. "But hey, I got my first career triple. And holy cow man, I was so gassed, I didn’t think I didn’t think I was going to make it home on that sac fly by Didi. I just love this game."
All the while, Voit smashed the ‘act like you’ve been here before’ mentality that was so common in the baseball of yesteryear. He’s made no secret of just how eye-popping he finds this all — before Wednesday, he said that when he came to the plate during the wild card, he was “going to have a big smile on my face, and I hope the 'Luke' chants are loud as hell . . . It’s the coolest feeling in the world” — and during the game, that enthusiasm showed. His fist shot to the sky when he hit his triple, and again when the umpire airplaned his arms, indicating he was safe, scoring the Yankees’ sixth run. When he ran, his arms tilted upwards, as if willing himself to fly.
Not bad for a guy who had to be sent down to Triple-A in mid-August, and had fans booing long before they were Luuuuu-ing.
"I'm enjoying the moment and I want more," he said. "We got Boston. We've just gotta be ourselves and be confident, and I know we can do big things."
Maybe Voit first and foremost.