Contemplating the awful truth………Yankees Spring Training, 2014

It’s time…..and this time it’s going to be different. The Yankees, their Guest Instructors, and the media are gathering in Tampa for Spring Training. Soon, the pitchers and catchers will be on the same page, and the hitters will be taking their cuts at ‘big league’ pitching. This year it is going to be different, very, very different.

It’s not because Andy Pettitte has – for the second time – retired, leaving a hole in the pitching rotation that will take some filling; and it is not that quite possibly the greatest closer of all time – Mariano Rivera – has put away his glove, and will be concentrating on family life and his church. It is the fact that the last of the ‘Core Four’, the Captain of the Yankees, the one and only Derek Sanderson Jeter starts his last season when ‘Play Ball’ is called for the first time this year. The Captain has his 3,000 hits (the vital shot coming on a home run at the Stadium, no less), and with all his other attributes (and without the slightest taint of PEDs in his background) seems to be a ‘shoe-in’ five years hence, when he becomes eligible for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Indeed, there is already discussion as to the possibility of a ‘unanimous first ballot’ result for Jeter. Despite the fact that there will always be some electors from The Baseball Writers Association of America who will say that NO ballplayer deserves that accolade, and will be willing to seek ‘fame’ (or, more correctly, infamy) by voting ‘no’, I think that Jeter has as good a chance as anyone at scaling this last personal pinnacle. He has managed to avoid any public impropriety (unless you count appearing in a series of VISA commercials with the late George Steinbrenner) despite having been linked with a most impressive list of starlets, TV actresses, singers and the like, and his ‘Turn 2 Foundation’ has, since 1996, done great work amongst the youth in West Michigan, Tampa and in New York. No, the Captain will retire covered in honours and glory, but leaving yet another yawning gap in the Yankees ranks.

Who knows if Mark Teixeira will return to first base duty fully recovered from his ‘lost season’? Wrist injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from, and it has just been announced that Teixeira will not even play a ‘Grapefruit League’ game until March, so we are left wondering. As for the outfield, the departure of Curtis Granderson has been more than covered by the arrival of Jacoby Ellsbury, which made the Yankees faster and younger as well as giving them potentially a ’60 steal a season’ player. Locking up their existing ‘speed merchant’ Brett Gardner for 4 years ($52 million) was a good deal, and now means that Ichiro Suzuki (probably in his final year with the Yankees) and the newly-acquired Carlos Beltran will probably have to split time in the outfield. Thinking of the number of steals that an outfield of Ichiro, Gardner and Ellsbury might produce is positively mouthwatering. Now, if only the Yankees can get CC Sabathia – who has lost even MORE weight – to settle back into his old form, and their new, prize pitching acquisition, the Japanese ace right-hander, Masahiro Tanaka (said to possess the best split-finger fastball in the whole of baseball) to settle in quickly with the bigger MLB ball are major questions that need to be answered.

Two things we have NOT discussed; the situation at third base is uncertain, thanks to the appalling behavior of Alex Rodriguez. I have lost any respect I might have had for him as a person particularly as he was, at one stage, suing the Yankees, MLB, AND his own Player’s Association! He cheated, then lied about using PEDs, then tried to cover it up. I sincerely hope that Major League Baseball has seen the last of him – some means of keeping him from stepping on a baseball field ever again must be found.

Do I expect the Yankees to miss the Playoffs two seasons in a row? No, I don’t; I think that everyone associated with the club would wish to avoid that ignominious result in Derek Jeter’s last season. Finally, although some clubs will wish to honour Derek Jeter as he visits their home fields for the very last time, I certainly do hope that we will not see a repeat of the ‘Mo Farewell Tour’ that we saw last season. I am extremely conscious that the very last regular season game for Jeter will be on Sunday, 28th September, against the Boston Red Sox – at Fenway Park. A very good friend and I attended just ONE Yankee game last season – Mariano’s last game at Fenway. The way the Red Sox treated him was described by them at the time – tongue in cheek – as ‘a roast’. The media reaction the following morning – particularly in the New York press – said it all. Let’s not try for two in a row, Red Sox, eh?

4 comments on “Contemplating the awful truth………Yankees Spring Training, 2014”

  1. Jeter is a class act all the way 🙂


  2. Yes, he certainly is – and a lot of people will miss him (although all athlete’s reach this point at some time!)


  3. For a good Derbyshire lad, you do write a load of nonsense.


    • Ah! Twigged at last! Well said, David. You Nottingham folk always were sharp ones, as I used to say to my auntie from Bulwell!


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