Giancarlo Stanton returns to his former stomping ground in Miami this week. Here’s how other local stars fared in their own returns “home.”
Who says you can’t go home?
Giancarlo Stanton is making the trip this week, as the New York Yankees slugger is back in Miami, as his new comrades in pinstripes are taking on the Miami Marlins, the team Stanton spent his first seven seasons with.
Traded to the Yankees last winter, Stanton went 2-for-6 in his first game as an opponent at Marlins Park, striking out three times but posting a single and a double in a game the Yankees won 2-1 in 12 innings. Stanton and the Yankees will conclude their set with the Marlins on Wednesday night (7:10 p.m. ET, YES).
Relatively quiet, Stanton’s homecoming, his first game against his original team, is somewhat mundane compared to the first visits of some of his New York contemporaries:
Yankees: CC Sabathia (5/30/09 @ Cleveland)
Sabathia burst onto the scene as a member of the Indians before a 2008 deadline deal trade sent him to Milwaukee. Signing with the Yankees in the offseason, Sabathia returned to Cleveland and earned the fifth of the league-high 19 wins he’d earn that championship season, going seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out eight in a 10-5 Yankees win.
The win offered a quantum of revenge for both the Yankees and Sabathia against Cleveland, who spoiled the opening of new Yankee Stadium with a 10-2 win a month prior. Though he escaped being charged with the loss, Sabathia had labored through 5.2 innings, throwing 122 pitches.
Mets: Mike Piazza (8/29/98 @ Los Angeles)
Somewhat forgotten in the joyful chaos of the 1998 MLB season were the adventures of Mike Piazza, who began the year in Los Angeles with the Dodgers before finding his home in Queens, a brief five-game stint with the Marlins sandwiched in between. Returning to Dodgers Stadium in the dog days of summer, Piazza went 3-for-4 in the Mets’ 4-3 victory.
Piazza reintroduced himself to the Dodger faithful with a double to lead off the second inning, later scoring the first run of the game on an RBI single by Jermaine Allensworth.
Giants: Antrel Rolle (11/2/11 @ Arizona)
The eighth overall pick of the Cardinals in 2005, Rolle became one of the highest paid safeties in the league when he joined the Giants in 2010. En route to the team’s fourth Super Bowl title in 2011, Rolle returned to University of Phoenix Stadium and helped the Giants earn a 31-27 victory.
In addition to a fourth-quarter interception, one that prevented Arizona from building on a 20-17 lead, Rolle also had six tackles, the last of which stopped tight end Todd Heap just short of a first down on the penultimate play of the game, ending the Cardinals’ comeback bid.
Jets: Curtis Martin (10/19/98 @ New England)
Shortly before Bill Belichick would do the exact opposite, changing the course of the Jets-Patriots rivalry forever, Martin defected from New England to New York, joining the Jets in time for the 1998 season. When the Jets traveled to Foxboro for a Monday night tilt, the Jets were sitting at 2-3 and coming off a blowout loss to the St. Louis Rams … a game Martin had missed due to injury. He returned to the field with a vengeance, tallying a hard fought 107 rushing yards in a 24-14 Jets win.
The victory kicked off a 10-1 stretch to end the season for the Jets, who would reach the AFC Championship Game before bowing out to the eventual Super Bowl winners in Denver.
Rangers: Mark Messier (1/23/92 @ Edmonton)
The image of Messier accepting the Stanley Cup in 1994 will forever be iconic to Rangers fans, but even before the hoist 54 years in the making, the Captain created some memorable moments, including his return to Edmonton. After the Oilers took a 1-0 lead, Messier helped tie the game less than a minute later, earning the secondary assist on a Tony Amonte equalizer.
In the third period, 13 seconds into a Rangers power play, Messier put in the game-winner, scoring a power-play goal that put his new squad ahead for good. Amonte would return the favor with the primary assist on Messier’s winner, while Adam Graves’ insurance goal later in the final stanza created a 3-1 final.
Devils: Bobby Holik (10/28/92 @ Hartford)
Holik began his career as a first-round selection of the Whalers in 1989, selected 10th overall. After two seasons, however, he was traded to the Devils, along with a second-round pick, for Sean Burke and Eric Weinrich. While the latter two built length NHL careers, journeymen who racked up mileage with several teams, Holik and the eventual selection, Jay Pandolfo, became crucial parts of New Jersey’s dominant run that began in the mid-1990’s.
Holik gave the Whalers a taste of what they were missing in his first visit back to the Hartford Civic Center early in the 1992-93 season, tallying two assists, both primary helpers on John McLean power play goals, in a 4-3 overtime win.
Islanders: Felix Potvin (4/14/99 @ Toronto)
Notable Islander homecomings have been scarce (we’ll be sure to keep an eye on Leo Komarov’s return to Toronto this December), but this goaltender did what he could when facing his old teammates in Toronto, who sent Potvin over to New York in a deadline deal, to close out the 1998-99 season.
Though victory was not to be, the goalie referred to as “Felix the Cat” kept the Islanders in the game against the playoff-bound Maple Leafs, making 35 saves in a 3-2 overtime defeat. In a cruelly ironic twist, Bryan Berard, the former Islander sent over to Toronto, had the game-winning goal. Potvin would play 33 games in goal for the Islanders before departing for Vancouver.
Knicks: Amare Stoudemire (1/7/11 @ Phoenix)
During his years with the Suns, Stoudemire took part in many games that broke triple digits with Mike D’Antoni had the helm. Stoudemire reunited with D’Antoni in 2010 when he joined the Knicks, and the two brought back old memories when they visited Phoenix. The pair victimized the modern day Suns, giving Phoenix fans blasts from the past in the most painful way possible.
As the Knicks rolled to a 121-96 win, Stoudemire tied for the New York lead in scoring with 23, sharing with Raymond Felton, and came one rebound short of a double-double.
Nets: Vince Carter (4/15/05 @ Toronto)
With the basketball world still going crazy from Vinsanity, as the slam dunk icon is set to return for his 21st season this fall as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, it’s easy to forget that Carter was once a New Jersey Net. The Nets became Carter’s second team in 2005, traded in February. He helped the Nets, going through a semi-rebuild, stage a late playoff push, and that trek went through his former employers in Toronto.
With the Nets battling the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by a second-year man named LeBron James, for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, Carter, playing 43 minutes, helped the Nets overcome a 14-point halftime deficit, scoring 39 points and tallying nine rebounds to shock the Raptors by a 101-90 final. The win was not only part of a 10-2 stretch to end the season, but the start of a four-game winning streak to close things out, locking up the eighth and final seed for the Nets.