TORONTO — Playing in the home of hockey, it was basketball that had the attention of several Yankees on Wednesday.
With Kobe Bryant playing in the final game of his career and the Warriors going for a record 73rd victory out on the West Coast, CC Sabathia was planning to plant himself in front of a television once he left Rogers Centre following the Yankees’ game against the Blue Jays.
“It’s going to be great,” Sabathia said of the pair of historic games. Asked which he was more excited about, the Bay Area native who grew up rooting for the Lakers didn’t hestitate. “Warriors.”
Alex Rodriguez was more interested in Bryant’s farewell, tweeting: “To my good friend @kobebryant. Thanks for all of the memories and inspiration. #legend #MambaDay”
The two met eight years ago while filming a commercial for Guitar Hero and have kept in touch ever since. A-Rod hopes to get Bryant to a Yankees game this season, where he wants to bring him into the clubhouse to meet the team.
A-Rod made a point to attend a Lakers game in Los Angeles in January, getting his last close-up look at the future Hall of Famer.
“I wanted to make sure I paid my respects to him and see him in his last year,” Rodriguez said. “I have a lot of love for Kobe, a lot of respect for him. He’s the gold standard for the NBA. It’s a happy and a sad day for sports.”
As for the Warriors, Joe Girardi believes their incredible season will put more pressure on them to win another NBA title. That was the case for the 114-win Yankees in 1998, who finished the job with a World Series win.
THE LIFE OF BRIAN
A giant banner congratulating Kobe Bryant is draped around Staples Center before his last game.
Brian McCann had the night off after taking a foul ball off his left big toe while catching Tuesday night. A fluoroscope test showed no damage to the toe, which was drained of blood after he left the game in the ninth inning.
“I was worried more about how he got hit because you can get hit on top of the toe,” Girardi said. “We’re pretty fortunate.”
Girardi said McCann was available to pinch-hit late in the game Wednesday, though the situation never presented itself once Toronto blew the game open. Both McCann and Girardi were hopeful that the catcher would be back behind the plate Thursday.
“I’m coming here with the mindset of playing,” McCann said.
HIS ‘A’ GAME
Aroldis Chapman threw an inning in his first extended spring training game at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa. The AP reported Chapman hit 98 mph during the outing, striking out two of three batters.
“He had a good outing today; I think he threw 15 pitches,” Girardi said. “His velocity was fine. That was good news.”