NEW YORK -- Nick Swisher had turned down so many opportunities to sneak an advance peek at the Yankees' World Series ring, not wanting to spoil the surprise for himself.
But as he looked down into the wooden box that manager Joe Girardi handed him during the ceremony before Tuesday's 7-5 win over the Angels at Yankee Stadium, even Swisher could tell that something was a bit off. Like Halos designated hitter Hideki Matsui, Swisher had been slipped a phony ring.
"As soon as I got my box from skip, I didn't even worry about it," Swisher said. "I was giving Whitey Ford a hug, Yogi Berra a hug. I was so excited, and then when I started shaking guys' hands, I was looking down at my box, and I was like, 'What is this?' I flipped it up and knew they were playing a joke on me."
Mariano Rivera confirmed that he was the prankster who nailed Swisher, just as Derek Jeter had popped a Yankees giveaway ring into Matsui's box.
The ring that Swisher found wasn't even close to authentic -- he said it looked like it came from a 25-cent vending machine, with a paper sketching of Yankee Stadium affixed to the top.
"I wore it the whole time I was out there, the fake ring," Swisher said. "Then I was like, 'Man, somebody's got to give me my ring.' Finally, we're walking off the field, and Mo comes over to me. He had it in his hand. He got me good."
Once Rivera finally passed over Swisher's ring, the outfielder said he wasn't about to let it out of his sight. He slipped it on after the game and wore it all night, though he eventually plans to create a display for it at home and doesn't think he'll wear it much.
"I'm just glad I got it," Swisher said. "What an amazing day, to be part of this organization and to be part of history and have that opportunity. It's a blessing and an honor."
-- Bryan Hoch