New York Yankees: Fans can expect Gerrit Cole to be ready with 99 mph fastball

Gerrit Cole near full power at the Stadium

New York Yankees fans have a lot to look forward to in this shortened baseball season.  New pitching ace Gerrit Cole hasn’t been laying by the pool at his new home in Greenwich, CT; he’s been busy preparing for the 2020 baseball season during the layoff caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  Back in April and May, we were seeing videos of his wife Amy and he playing catch.  Cole even played catch with neighbor Aaron Boone.

Recently he has been seen working out at Yankee Stadium even before it opened for summer camp.  Yesterday at the Stadium, Cole had a workout with pitching coach Matt Blake.  Cole’s fastball was clocked at 95-99 mph.  Coach Blake said he was pretty close to game speed.  With three weeks of summer camp yet to be had, it looks like Cole will be at full arm strength by his July 23rd matchup with the Washing National’s Max Scherzer on baseballs opening day.

Amy and Gerrit Cole on baby watch!

Back in January shortly after the New York Yankees signed pitching ace Gerrit Cole, he and his wife Amy announced that they were expecting a baby in June.  That due date was June 30th.  Taking to Instagram on Saturday, Amy polled her nearly 55,000 followers as to what major life-event will take place first: the birth of the couple’s first child or the beginning of spring training.  58% said the baby would come before the start of summer camp.

They were wrong as there is no baby news yet. So the baby watch continues.  Gerrit Cole had a workout yesterday at the Stadium, if he doesn’t show up today or suddenly leaves, we will know why.  The couple is expecting a baby boy and Amy showed on her Instagram account a pair of Yankee baby booties with the number 45 on them.

Will the New York Yankees use openers this year?

Anything is possible in short-season, said New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone on Wednesday.  With the three-week summer camp, some of the Yankee pitchers may not be up to full arm strength.  During a conference call with the media, Boone was asked about a six-man rotation that some teams may use.  Boone said that we are going to be creative and smart, referring to how he will handle the pitching staff early in the season.

In the past, the Yankees have been quite successful using openers when they were short of pitchers in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons.  Yankee reliever Chad Green was the most used to open games.  Green was successful in most instances.  The Green Luis Cessa duo may be used again, at least at the start of the season.

Hal sees the possibility of fans at Yankee Stadium

New York Yankees owner and general partner Hal Steinbrenner revealed in an interview with the YES Network that he believes that fans will be able to attend Yankee games at Yankee Stadium at some point in the season.

He says that the capacity would be somewhere in the 20-30% range, and everyone will be able to safely socially distance. He also added that he is “personally not sure that will be feasible, but we will see.”  Assuming that the coronavirus remains under control, the likelihood of that happening will increase as the season progresses.  It would be fantastic for Yankees fans if they could attend postseason games at the Stadium.

New York Yankees: When will the MLB Spring Draft be and who will the Yankees select?

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees are mostly focused on when the baseball season will start and how to keep players ready for the eventuality.  On March 12, the remainder of baseball spring training was canceled, and the March 26 regular-season start date was pushed back by two weeks.  That was nearly two months ago, and the start of the season has not yet been announced, although plans to start the season are forthcoming shortly.

The push back and also caused a delay in the MLB Spring Draft.  The draft initially scheduled for June 10th now looks as though it will take place sometime closer to the middle of July, although no schedule has been released.  In earlier negotiations, MLB and the players union agreed to shorten the draft from the original 40 rounds to just 5 rounds.

The draft will assign amateur baseball players to Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. The draft order will be set based on the reverse order of the 2019 MLB season standings.  The New York Yankees ranking third-best in the 2019 season will allow them the 28th pick in the draft.  The 29th pick Houston Astros lost their pick when MLB fined them for illegally stealing signs in the 2017 baseball season.

There is no way to know for sure who the Yankees will pick, but talking to sources and scouts, there is a good idea as to who they would like to sign.  The most likely pick for the Yankees in the first round will be a shortstop out of Mountain Pointe, Arizona, Carlton Tucker.  Tucker has the foot movement and the hands to play shortstop long-term, even though he’s an average runner. He has medium arm strength, though his throws have good carry and he shows the ability to change arm action and slots as is needed for the shortstop position.

The Yankees have need of more shortstop prospects in their minor league system.  Presently they have several in the system including Alexander Vargas, Anthony Volpe, Josh Smith, and a few others, but as always, the Yankees want to continue to expand their options.  In spring play, Tucker improved at the plate. Showing more consistency on the defensive side, along with the aforementioned gains at the bat, are why Tucker’s stock took a leap forward this spring, making a stronger case for the New York Yankees to sign him away from his commitment to the University of Texas.

Carlton Tucker is now 18 years old, he is 6’1″ weighs 170 pounds and bats and throws right-handed. At his young age, he has plenty of time to develop and improve his skills in the Yankee minor league system. He has a brother Cole who is in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

Where the New York Yankees may benefit most in this 2020 draft is the bargains that will be among the undrafted players.  Teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees who are industry leaders in player development and have enough brand value to entice players to sign with them.  Those players sign for a maximum of $20K no matter where they sign.  So a team like the New York Yankees has the brand power to entice those players to sign.  New players want to go where they have the best chance of improving.

New York Yankees: History of the Yankee uniform, and a discussion with ace Gerrit Cole (video)

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez, Gerrit Cole, Aaron Boone

The Yankees are known for pinstripes, but they always haven’t had them.

The New York Yankees have been wearing the pinstripes for years. What most fans don’t realize is that the Yankees started out with a dark grey jersey with four buttons at the top and a bright orange O over the left front.  The reason for that is that the Yankees started out as the Orioles in Baltimore, not New York.  The original eight members of the American League were the Orioles, the Chicago White Stockings, the Americans (Boston Red Sox), the Tigers, the Blues (Indians), the Senators, the Brewers (Orioles), and the Athletics (Phillies).  All had their distinct uniforms.

In the case of the Yankees, when they moved from Baltimore to become the first New York City team, they maintained their dark grey uniforms when they became the New York Highlanders in 1903.  Turn the hands of time ahead 100 years, and four of the eight teams are exactly where they started – Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland. Of the other four, the A’s moved to Kansas City and then on to Oakland; the Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins; Milwaukee moved to St. Louis in 1902 and became the Browns, then moved to Baltimore in the ’50s and became the Orioles), and then there were the Baltimore Orioles who eventually became the New York Yankees.  All of those changes required changes to uniforms.

The only change to the Highlander uniform was that instead of the O, the team put an N on the right side and a Y on the left.  But the same dark grey uniform remained with the four buttons.  The Yankees got their Highlander’s name from playing at Hilltop Park at 168th Street and Broadway, which was the highest point in elevation in New York City.

In 1904 when Willie Keller was the hitting king the Highlanders introduced a new away uniform.  It was a medium-dark blue with a white belt.  During 1910 the Highlanders were known as both the Highlanders and the Yankees.  The official name change didn’t come until 1913.  But in 1910, the first interlocking NY showed up on the left arm of the team’s uniform.

The design was actually created in 1877 by Louis B. Tiffany for a medal to be given by the New York City Police Department to Officer John McDowell, the first NYC policeman shot in the line of duty. Perhaps because one of the club’s owners, Bill Devery, was a former NYC police chief, the design was adopted by the Highlanders and was to become the most universally known sports insignia.

In 1913 the Highlanders/Yankees moved to the Polo Grounds.  The name that had gained favor Yankees was made official as the New York Yankees. To make the change as evident as possible, the Yankees changed their home uniforms to be white with pinstripes.  Thus the birth of the famed Yankee pinstripes.   To each team in baseball, the uniform is extremely important because once you put it on even if you played for another team first, you are the history and pride of that new team.

Since 1913 there have been several minor changes to the home and away New York Yankees uniforms, but most involve thickness of the lettering. The interlocking NY is only on home pinstripes, and the name New York goes across the chest of the away uniform.  The only significant change is that the 1913 pullover was changed to a button-up jersey.  The Yankees are one of three teams that do not wear players’ names on uniforms but are the only ones that never wear player names.  Both the San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox wear player names on their away uniforms.

The importance of the uniform is highlighted every year for every team.  When a new player is introduced to a team and fans, it’s not official until the press conference when he first donned the team’s uniform.

Gerrit Cole sits down with legend David Cone and Jack Curry to talk pitching

In an interview taped for the YES Network that was broadcast last evening, Gerrit Cole speaks with YES Network analyst Jack Curry, and Yankee baseball legend David Cone on how he became a pitcher, on analytics and ball spin among other pitching subjects.

https://www.yesnetwork.com/video/yankees-access-gerrit-cole?t=top-videos

 

 

 

New York Yankees Analysis: The top 10 Yankee right-fielders, find out (video)

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

In the sixth installment of my top 10 New York Yankees series, I give my choices for the top 10 Yankee right fielders of all time.  The Yankees, in their glorious history, have many of the best players ever to play in their positions in the history of MLB.  Previous installments have featured the top ten pitchers, catchers, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd baseman. With so many good players and different ways of measuring greatness, different writers may have different rankings, these are mine.

 

10.  Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge has only played for the Yankees for four years but has racked up a batting average of .273 with 246 runs driving and a 126 home runs. Considering his excellent stats, his defense is even better.  He has a rocket of an accurate arm, making many difficult plays look easy.  In future years he could easily rank considerably higher on this list.  The only thing that might prevent that is his frequent injuries.

9.  George Selkirk

Many Yankee fans may not know the name of George Selkirk, but he played for the New York Yankees between 1934 and 1942, playing his entire career for the Yankees.  Selkirk was an excellent fielder and hit a .290 batting average for the Yankees with 576 runs batted in.  His fielding percentage was .976, which was excellent for that time.

  1. Gary Sheffield

Gary Sheffield could have been higher on this list. However, he only played three years with the Yankees.  Sheffield was a menacing figure at the plate.  In his three years, he hit .291 with 269 RBIs and 76 home runs.  Sheffield, like Aaron Judge, had a cannon for an arm.  He made spectacular plays, often hitting the right-field wall.  He had a remarkable 22-year career in the outfield.  He played for the Yankees between 2004 and 2006.

7.  Hank Bauer

Hanke Bauer is often an underrated right fielder.  He played for the Yankees between 1948 and 1959.  During that time, he hit .277 with 654 runs batted in and 158 long balls.  He was one of the Yankee’s most contact hitters of his time.  In 12 years with the Yankees, he hit an average of 110 hits a year for a total of 1326 hits. He was a five-time MVP candidate during the span.

6.  Lou Piniella

Lou Piniella was one of the most popular New York Yankee players in the 1970s and ’80s.  He spent eleven years with the Yankees hitting .295 with 417 RBIs. Piniella was not a home run hitter but had 971 hits in his Yankee tenure.  He was a magnificent arm in the outfield. Piniella had a vast knowledge of the game and went on to be the Yankee manager from 1986 to 1987.  He also managed the Mariners, Cubs, Rays, and the Reds. He returned to manage the Yankees for the second time in 1988.

  1. Roger Maris

Roger Maris is a famous Yankees that is often overrated due to his record 61 home runs in 1961.  What is overlooked is that he was an outstanding right fielder.  His fielding percentage was .978.  He hit .265 with 541 runs batting while getting 203 home runs. He was an MVP in the right-field and an MVP in centerfield as well in 1961.  He is one of a very few Yankees to win the MVP award several times.  Maris, who came from the Athletics but his seven years with the Yankees, were his best years.  After leaving the Yankees, he quickly faded away.

  1. Dave Winfield

The hulking Dave Winfield was another Yankee that was a fan favorite. However, he didn’t have the best relationship with the New York Yankees’ primary owner George Steinbrenner and regularly fought with him.  Winfield came to the Yankees from the San Diego Padres in 1981 and hung around until 1990.  During that time, he hit .290 with  818 runs batting in and 205 home runs.  His 1300 as a Yankee was part of a career that produced 3,110 hits.  While with the Yankees, he was an All-Star eight times and a five-time Gold Glover in right-field.  Dave was a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

  1.   Reggie Jackson

George Steinbrenner, who was not shy when spending money, reached out into the new free-agent market and acquired Reggie Jackson from the Baltimore Orioles for just short of $3 million in 1976.  Jackson would later say:

“It was like trying to hustle a girl in a bar,” the flamboyant Jackson said about Steinbrenner’s efforts after he signed a five‐year contract with the Yankees said to be worth $2.9 million. “Some clubs offered several hundred thousand dollars more. possibly seven figures more,‐ but the reason I’m a Yankee is that George Steinbrenner outhustled everybody else.”

For Steinbrenner, it was a cheap buy as Jackson turned out to be George’s best ever purchase.  However, Jackson was a controversial player with the Yankees; some loved him some hated him.  That includes manager Billy Martin, catcher Thurman Munson, and Steinbrenner himself.  There were often fights for power amongst the three.  From Jackson in dugout fights with Martin and his hitting three homers in one game, he always wanted to be in the spotlight.

Regardless of what negative views fans of others had of him, he deserved the praise.  During his five years with the New York Yankees, he hit .281 with 144 home runs.  He had a 900 OPS.  He also had a .980 fielding percentage in right field for the Yankees.  Reggie was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

2.  Paul ONeill

Paul O’Neill is unsung and unrewarded as a Yankee right-fielder, and many sportswriters would put him down a few notches on this list. But this writer feels he is one of the best players to ever grace the right-field at Yankees Stadium.  His batting average of .303 over nine years with the Yankees speaks for itself.  He hit for power, he hit for contact and was the ultimate team player.  He consistently did what was needed to help his team.

O’Neill played for the Yankees from 1993 to 2001, he was part of four Yankee World Series Championships and contributed to all of them. During his time, the “Warrior” had 858 RBIs and hit 185 home runs while hitting nearly 1,500 hits.  Paul will probably not reach the Hall of Fame for his lack of home runs, but for his time with the Yankees, he owned the fans.  In his last game as a Yankee in 2001, it was the ninth inning, from the entire stadium all you hear for the whole inning was “Paulie” clap, clap, clap, clap, Paulie, clap, clap, clap, clap.

Since retiring from baseball, he has become an integral part of the YES Network broadcasting and giving analysis of Yankee games.

1.  Babe Ruth

There is not enough space in this article to talk about the achievements of Babe Ruth, he is not only my pick for the best New York Yankee right-fielder but for the best baseball player ever.  In what was called the worst trade in baseball history, Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, being short on money, traded Babe Ruth away to the Yankees for $100,000 the day after Christmas in 1919.

Ruth would spend the next fifteen years with the Yankees.  Over the period he had a batting average of an incredible .349, with 659 home runs.  There was no other hitter like him then and since then.  He had a fielding percentage that averaged .965, which for that time was very good.  Ruth was an All-Star and a most valuable player back when awards weren’t as common as they are today.  Being a pitcher for the Red Sox, he even pitched to a winning percentage of 1.000 with a record of 5-0.

In his 15 years with the Yankees, Ruth helped the team win seven American League (AL) pennants and four World Series championships.  In 1936 Ruth was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its “first five” inaugural members.

Honorable mentions go to Jessie Barfield, Willie Keller, Tommy Henrich, and Giancarlo Stanton.

In selecting my top ten, I valued time with the club, performance as per Baseball-Reference.com.  Peak career performance and performance in postseason play was also a factor. Special situations like changing career positions were also a consideration.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

 

New York Yankees News: Cole talks pitching today, Judge’s future, and pivotal year for Miggy Andujar

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

Gerrit Cole talks pitching today on the YES Network

Today you can get a rare intimate view of the new New York Yankees ace pitcher Gerrit Cole.  Cole was acquired by the Yankees during the winter meetings in San Diego for a record-breaking deal worth $324 million over the next nine years.  Cole is one of the top three pitchers in all of baseball, but Yankee fans don’t know that much about him, except that they didn’t want to face him when he pitched for the Houston Astros.

During the coronavirus, baseball shut down Cole has been hunkered down in his newly purchased home in Greenwich, CT.  He has been keeping in form by pitching to his pregnant athletic softball star wife Amy and to Yankee manager Aaron Boone who lives nearby.  With the shutdown, Cole had time to sit down with fellow Yankee pitching star, Yankee legend, and perfect gamer David Cone.  The two spoke with Jack Curry on a variety of pitching subjects.  Cole is an analytics nut and explains his thinking on the mound.  Check it out tonight at 7:30 pm on the YES Network.

 

What can Aaron Judge’s future look like?

Will Aaron Judge be the next huge New York Yankees star, or will he end up being the flop that could have been big?  Everything with Judge is if he can stay healthy.  The massive hulk of a man has had problems in two of his three seasons remaining injury-free.  Now at 28, he is no longer a spring chicken and must prove that he can be that Yankee star all Yankee fans want him to be.

Judge could be the next Yankee Captain as he is loved by Yankee fans, he could be the next Mickey Mantle, or he could be the expected star that never really made an impact and was always injured.  In 2017 when he came in second in the MVP voting, he hit .284 with 52 home runs, he did strike out 208 times but looked well on his way to becoming an All-Star player for many years to come.

Fast forward to 2018, and Judge played in only 112 games due to a few injuries one inflicted by a pitch to the wrist.  2019 turned out worst when he only played in 102 games suffering an injury that caused him to be on the IL.  He missed two of the first three months of the season with a left oblique strain.  Late in the season in September, he diving for a catch fractured a rib which caused a partially collapsed lung.  The injury wasn’t discovered until spring training this year, but it was significant enough that he was unable to play in any games during the shortened camp.

Even missing 60 games last season, Judge was still able to come up with 27 home runs although he had his worst batting average at .272.  Judge can hit for power for sure and is stellar in right field with an accurate cannon of an arm. He has all the attributes of the next Yankee superstar.  His future all depends on if he can stay on the field.  This year will be telling for what the future will hold for Aaron Judge.

The Miguel Andujar quagmire

Miguel Andujar, like Aaron Judge in 2017, looked to be like another big superstar for the New York Yankees.  He hit for power, and for contact, he led the team with a .297 batting average and hit 27 home runs in 149 games.  He even came in second in the Rookie of the Year voting.  The only flaw in his game is that at third base, he only had a .948 fielding percentage.

Going into the 2019 season, he played in only 12 games before suffering a shoulder injury. He ended up having right shoulder labrum repair surgery that ended his season.  After just three games, he went on the IL.  The thinking was that it wouldn’t affect his hitting. When he returned in eight games, he only hit .088, and that’s when it was determined he indeed needed the surgery.

The quagmire comes in when the Yankees needed a replacement at the hot corner.  They selected Gio Urshela from Scranton Wilkes/Baree to fill the void.  What they got was a surprise Gold Glove type player in Urshela.  Gio ended up playing in 139 games with a .314 batting average, only second on the team to DJ LeMahieu.  He also had some power-hitting 21 long balls.

Because of Urshela’s ability to hit for contact and maintain excellent defense at third, the New York Yankees have announced that Urshela will be the starting third baseman through not fault of Andujar’s.  So, the Yankees have a problem, what to do with Miggy.  They have tried him at first and also in the left field.  During spring training, he showed that he could play in the outfield.  The only problem with that is that the Yankees have Giancarlo Stanton in left, leaving Audjar as a bench player or DH.  When the delayed season starts it looks as if Stanton, Andujar, and Mike Tauchman will share the duties in left.  How much playing time Miggy will get in is dependant on injuries and how often he can be DH.  When he does play he has to show that he is worth keeping or he just might be trade bait in the 2021 offseason.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Remembering Hank, MLB to take part in COVID-19 Study, and more

New York Yankees, Hank Steinbrenner

Remembering Hank Steinbrenner

Yesterday marked the sad passing of New York Yankees General Partner and Co-Chairperson Henry G. “Hank” Steinbrenner.  The elder son of George M. Steinbrenner was an amazing man who loved life and was deeply involved in the Yankees, charities, horses, and many other business endeavors.  In recent years he has maintained his office at the Yankees training complex in Tampa, Florida.  He was more involved in the Yankees than many fans realized.  He oversaw all baseball operations with his brother Hal but was directly involved in player negotiations, long-term player recruitment goals, and overall club strategy.

As Hank’s father George began to loosen his grip on the team as he aged and became ill, for a few years before the 2009 World Championship, Hank began to take a larger roll in the Yankees.  Hank was very different than his brother Hal.  Hank was cut from a similar cloth as his father; you knew what Hank thought and often publically.  Unlike the reserved Hal, Hank was colorful, often saying provocative things that would reach the tabloids, reminiscent of the “boss”.  He was warm, engaging, and genuine, but also direct.

He once said of Alex Rodriguez in 2007 when he was about to opt-out of his contract.  “Does he want to go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee or a Toledo Mud Hen?” He also once said, “if there’s a Red Sox Nation, there is a Yankee Universe.” With present managing partner Hal Steinbrenner you will never hear that type of candor.  For whatever reason, over the next few years, it became apparent that brother Hal would be the one that would lead the New York Yankees into the future.

Hank was deeply involved in charitable organizations from Tampa to the Bronx.  Children’s charities in New York and Tampa Bay, including The Joshua House, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, Gigi’s Playhouse Tampa, The Children’s Dream Fund, and the New York Yankees charitable foundations to name just a few.  He was also on the Board of the YES Network and the Gold Shield Foundation.

It is unknown what Hal died from, but the family said it was a long-standing illness.  Hank was known to be a heavy smoker for most of his life. One thing that is sure, the piano and guitar playing, rock music-loving, horseracing enthusiast Hank that never lost his love of the Yankees will be severely missed his siblings Hal, Jennifer, and Jessica.  Hank leaves his four children and one grandchild.

MLB to take part in COVID-19 study

The New York Yankees and all of MLB will take part in a national study headed by Stanford University, USC, and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory.  The study will help researchers trying to gain a better sense of how widespread the coronavirus is throughout the country. A rapid antibody test will be administered using kits that draw blood from a finger and provide results within a matter of minutes. The tests will determine if participants have contracted the coronavirus even if they were asymptomatic.

The study will involve the New York Yankees, Mets and 25 other baseball teams from around the country. It will test about ten thousand baseball personnel from players, the front office, and stadium workers.  This will be the first study of it’s kind.  Although it will not have anything to do with when the baseball season starts, it will a greater understanding of the disease.

Yankee odds in a Grapefruit League

Anyone that follows my writings, knows that I am not in favor of this approach to getting a baseball season started.  But many are looking at what effect the realignment would have on the New York Yankees.  Fangraphs has looked at the plan and said it would be advantageous for the Yankees and would nearly assure them a place in the postseason.  They project an 89.2% chance of a Yankee postseason.

Under the plan, if implemented, the Yankees would not face traditional rivals, Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, but would face much weaker teams, including the Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Philadelphia Phillies. Joe Girardi’s Phillies would be the toughest competition for the Yankees.

The Fangraphs result showed the Yankees leading the entire Grapefruit League (15 teams) with a 69-43 record, with the Astros (66-46), Rays (64-48) and Twins (63-49) behind them. The Yankees’ overall playoff probability was a whopping 89.2 percent, even with seven of last year’s 10 playoff teams playing in the league.

 

New York Yankees: A history of great Yankee first baseman

The New York Yankees in their rich history have had some really great players.  Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, just to name a few that have been impactful players in the Yankees 117 year history.  Over the years, the Yankee has had no shortage of fine first baseman.

1. Lou Gehrig:

Lou Gehrig is generally recognized as the Yankee’s most excellent first baseman of all time.  Gehrig for 17 years from 1923-1939 graced first base at Yankee Stadium.  Known for his fine hitting and durability at his position, he was called the “Iron Horse.”  He hit 493 home runs and had 1,995 runs batted in with a career batting average of .340. He still has the highest ratio of runs scored plus runs batted in per 100 plate appearances (35.08) and per 100 games (156.7) among Hall of Fame players.  Gehrig was not just a hitter; he provided stellar defense at first throughout his career.  At one point in his career, he played in 2,130 consecutive games.

Gehrig, as great a player he was for the Yankees he is also known for Lou Gehrig disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).  His 1938 stats were well of his 1937 performance, and he knew something was wrong, He was tired.  After a series of tests at the Mayo Clinic, the bad news was delivered to Gehrig.  On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig said goodbye to over 60,000 fans in the stands with his famous “I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech.  The Hall of Fame Gehrig passed away at his home in the Bronx section of New York on June 2, 1941.  Career stats: 17 years .340 with 493 home runs.

2. Don Mattingly

Donny Baseball is one of the most popular Yankees ever, and my pick as the Yankees 2nd greatest first baseman. Don Mattingly spent his entire baseball playing days at first base at Yankee Stadium.  For fourteen years, he snagged balls and defended at first base.  He made his Yankee major league debut in September of 1982.  He became the full-time first baseman in 1984, a position he held until 1995.

Many thought Mattingly would become the Yankees manager.  That didn’t happen as Joe Torre was selected to manage the Yankees for the next eleven years.  Mattingly did manage, though.  He was a special instructor for the Yankee until 2007.  Before the 2008 season, he was hired to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers, a job he held for seven years.  In 2016 ex-Yankee Derek Jeter selected Donny to manage the Miami Marlins, where he still manages today.  Career stats:  14 years .307 with 222 home runs.

3. Tino Martinez

Constantino “Tino” Martinez is my pick for third-best New York Yankee first baseman.  Tino was not solely a Yankee; he played for the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1990 through 2005.

Tino was an excellent defender at first base.  From 1996-2001, the dynasty years, Tino was one of the most impactful players on the team.  He helped the team to four World Series in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000.  In 1997 he won the All-Star home run derby.  In 2002 Tino joined the Cardinals, and in 2004, he played a year with the Rays.  In 2005 Tino re-joined the New York Yankees.  During that year, at one point, hi hit five home runs in five consecutive games. Career stats: 16 years .271 with 339 home runs.

4. Mark Teixeira

Mark “Tex” Teixeira held down the first base position from 2009 to 2016.  Not only was he stellar at first, but he was also one of the most proficient switch hitters in baseball history.  In his first year with the New York Yankees, he led the team to their 27th World Championship.  Although he got them there, he didn’t play well in the Series, but in Tex style, he was clutch winning game 2 with a walk-off home run.

In 2009 he led the American League in home runs. On May 8, 2010, he became the second Yankee in history to hit three home runs in the same game. In 2011 he hit his 300th home run.  In 2015 Teixeira was named to his third All-Star game. In 2016 his final year before retirement, he hit two home runs in a game that also represented the 400th home run of his career.  Citing injuries and wanted to spend more time with his family, he retired after the 2016 season. Career stats:  14 years .268 with 409 home runs.

5. Chris Chambliss

Chris Chambliss is one of the most popular of Yankee’s first baseman.  Chambliss played for the Yankees from 1974 to 1979.  An excellent defender at first, he is mostly known for his walk-off home run in the 1977 World Series.  His walk-off was one of the most iconic moments in Yankee history.  Immediately after his World Series-winning hit, Yankee fans stormed the field making it impossible to reach home base.  When he reached the clubhouse, he donned a field worker’s raincoat and ran out to touch home plate. Career stats:  17 years .279 with 185 home runs.

Honorable mentions go to Bill Skowron 1954-1962, Jason Giambi 2002-2008, Joe Pepitone 1962-1969, Johnny Mize 1949-1953, and Wally Pipp 1915-1925.  I have excluded Mickey Mantle from this list.  Even though he was a fine first baseman, he was noted more for his outfield performance throughout his career.

 

New York Yankees: No Astros, Yankee fans have not forgotten, you will be punished

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve

The horrible coronavirus has taken the spotlight away from the Houston Astros and their cheating ways.  But, the New York Yankees and fans have not forgotten.  They will pay, and they will eventually feel the shame.

I remember as a young boy stealing a small bottle of maraschino cherries from my local A&P supermarket.  I sat behind the store with a friend and ate the whole bottle.  Later at home, I got sick and had to admit to what I had done.  My mom marched me back to the store and made me apologize to Mr. Blue, the store manager. I didn’t mind so much as I felt ashamed for my misdeed.  The disappointment in Mr. Blue’s face who I knew and that of my mom was more punishment to me than having to apologize.

The Houston Astros players are not young boys, they should know better.  According to their bringing up, some will remain unrepentant, but some will feel the shame of their deeds as they visit baseball parks all over the country, once the baseball season begins.  They will be most likely treated poorly by the New York Yankees fans when they eventually visit Yankee Stadium.

As most sports fans know, the Astros used electronic equipment at Minute Maid Park to steal their opponents’ pitching signs. Then Astros players would signal their teammates whether the next pitch would be a breaking ball or fastball by banging on trash cans in the dugout and possibly electronic signals beneath their jerseys.

MLB’s Commissioner Rob Manfred, after a lengthy investigation determined that the Astros had cheated during the regular and postseason of 2017.  New York Yankee fans also know that that cheating could have cost them a World Championship.  The Astros in the postseason went on to beat the Yankees in the ALCS and then on to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.  You can be sure that the Dodgers feel cheated as well.

The effects of Astros cheating goes far beyond who won those games.  It may have affected every single player that played against them during the 2017 season and beyond.  If outcomes had been different, the stats of players around the country were compromised.   A good Yankee example is that the Houston Astros Jose Altuve won the MVP that year, and Yankee star Aaron Judge came in second. Judge felt cheated when he found out about the scheme.  CC Sabathia was mad as hell that he may have been cheated of wins in his final year of play.

The Astros team was fined, the Astros manager A.J. Hinch was suspended and fired, and the Astros General Manager was also fired.  Arising from the scheme for their involvement, new Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Mets manager Carlos Beltran also lost their jobs.  Are the New York Yankees satisfied?  No, they are not.  They didn’t lose their World Series title, their rings, or their World Series shares.  But most important to the Yankees is that no Astro player was punished.

Since the reveal, the Astros has been more or less repentant, most apologies seemed insincere and half-hearted, even smug.  During the brief spring training this year, the Astros played their first spring training game in Florida;  they were booed when introduced and booed when a video was shown celebrating the Astros’ 2019 American League pennant.  And these boos came from Tiger fans that were hardly affected by the cheating scandal.

The players who seem to be unaffected by the boos will know that fans are, not were, still holding them responsible for their deeds.  The coronavirus may have diverted attention away from them, but they will suffer throughout this season and possibly for seasons to come.  The Astros had their chance to relinquish their title, their rings, and such, but they didn’t, and the New York Yankees and fans are not going to forget.

New York Yankees: Fans care less about details, they want baseball and sooner than later

New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox

For New York Yankees fans and New York Met fans, for each day that goes by without baseball they are starting to care less about the details, they just want to watch some baseball.  At this point, fans realize that this baseball season will look very different than any season form the past.  In fact, many are beginning to fear that there may be no baseball season at all.

Back three weeks ago, MLB shut down all of the remaining spring training games and pushed back opening day two weeks.  Events around the world have come to a shutdown, since then the coronavirus had become the only topic occupying the news channels.  For many New York Yankee fans, baseball has taken a back seat to their health, and the health of their families as the virus outbreak shows no sign of going away any time soon.

Sports from the NBA, NHL, MBL, and all professional sports to college and high school sports are nowhere to found.   For those that don’t follow sports, they could care less.  But for die-hard baseball fans, each week that passes without the “boys of summer,”  the want for some kind of season grows exponentially.  Fans are starting to care less about the details of what a season would look like, and are little by little coming to the realization, that there may be no season at all.

Weeks ago, when MLB shut down operations all the talk was about the legitimacy of a shortened season and all the details that would have to be ironed out.  A season of 140 games was discussed, then 120 and now 80-100 games.  No one believes baseball will start at least at the major league level until sometime in July.

MLB and the New York Yankees will have to make some tough decisions.  It now seems likely that if we do have baseball, they will try to get as many games in as possible, moving the end of the season deeper into November.  Early in the year, MLB was talking about expanding postseason play, that may still happen as it will give teams a better chance to compete for the championship, none the less a shortened season will always carry an asterisk alongside it.

Issues to be solved:

How long will the season be?  Probably in the area of 80 games.  Will there be an All-star game?  Probably not, it would take away from games played.  Will players be paid for a full season?  Probably not, players and owners will have to share in lost revenue.  Will players and owners have to agree to terms?  Yes!  Could players strike over pay not received?  It’s possible.  Will there be a draft?  Yes, but it might not be until the offseason. What if it snows in November?  Games might be held at neutral sites or in domed stadiums.  What about free agency and service time?  That has pretty well been decided already.  Players will be awarded service time.  What about the trade deadline?  I will be pushed back into August.

But the most significant concern right now is how many games will be played and how long will a mini-spring training be to help avoid injuries during a regular season.   New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone recently said:

“They’re going to want to try to get in as many games as possible, so it’s going to tack on to the end of the season. The season is going to carry on longer, so you’re going to potentially be in warm weather spots or domed situations. That may lend itself to some neutral-site situations. This is an opportunity to be creative; maybe at the end of it all we’ll get to look at it and say, ‘Hey, this worked, this is something we’d like to implement moving forward.'”

The new New York Mets manager Luis Rojas has said:

“I do believe we are going to have a season this year,” Rojas said. “I hope we will. But knowing the timeline right now is very difficult. We certainly know that what is happening right now is much bigger than the game. Now we are following protocols, following everything to the letter to overcome this. But our mentality is that we will play baseball this year, at some point..”

Whatever the case, with each passing day baseball fans, just want to watch some baseball being played.  Things that seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago are now okay with fans as long as we have baseball.  It is this writer’s view that by the end of April, we will know much more as to when a season will start and what it will look like.  I guess that it will be in the area of 80 games to be considered legitimate, it may be played in empty stadiums to start, but it will begin at some point.

On the national political level, many are wondering what the balance should be in saving the economy and saving lives.  That consideration will not affect sports as the sports world will never endanger fans as exhibited by the Olympics being pushed back a year.  It may be a very different baseball season, but it will be one that fans will remember for years to come.