This was the year, well almost. Various stuff happening in my life, minimal interest in my team, not very exciting pennant races overall. I had decided not to by mlb.tv, a big step for me as I don’t get cable TV, so this would mean watching NO Baseball on TV. My wife encouraged me to get it, and I did, and I watched the early season with some interest. There were some interesting early stories (Kershaw’s dominance, the return of Jose Fernandez, the fabulous Cubs, reemergence of Cleveland as a contender, early play of the Phillies), I blogged a couple of times.
But the Yankees were old, boring, and bad, and there were almost literally no players who held my interest. Once the likely became certain, that A-Rod and Teixeira were NOT the players they were in 2015, and that, in turn, Ellsbury, Headley and McCann WERE exactly the players they were in 2015, the Yankees really no longer held my interest. I doubt I watched a single complete game after May 31st, and really parts of not that many others. Yes, the 3-headed bullpen was pretty fun (and pretty unhittable) early on, and yes, the Yankees thus were winning the close ones and kept near .500 despite a negative run differential.
Starlin Castro was (I guess) a positive addition, though a player with a sub-.300 OBP is not my kind of player, despite the home runs. Didi Gregorius was having a good season, and Carlos Beltran was reborn, but the team overall was old, slow, and uninteresting, and by July 1 I had stopped watching, stopped reading the box scores, and mostly stopped following the sport at all! 60 years of fandom was fading away, and I was not analyzing, not blogging, etc. Bye, bye, baseball.
At the deadline the Yankees threw in the towel, and I cheered: they traded Miller, Chapman and Beltran, along with Ivan Nova, and got a collection of semi-exciting prospects in return. I applauded the practical decisions, especially as they weren’t really that far out of a playoff spot, and I wondered if they would have the guts to go for it. Then, more significantly, they cut A-Rod, convinced Tex to retire, brought up their top prospects Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Rob Refsnyder, Tyler Austin, Chad Green and Luis Cessa.
And SUDDENLY there was energy in the clubhouse and on the field. Sanchez had a start like no other rookie ever, really. Judge and Austin both homered in their first at bat, and what’s more back-to-back. And I was watching: Sanchez (who came up first) had energized me to extent of at least watching the news, so I knew of the debuts, and they didn’t disappoint. In reality, of course, the rookie hitters (except for Sanchez) did not do that well (next most productive, probably, was Mason Williams) but watching the Yankees was FUN again. For the last 45 days of the season I saw a part of nearly every game. They surged for a while (mostly due to long home stands), went on the road in the thick of the wild-card race, fell on their faces in Boston and Toronto, and were eliminated on September 30 – third to last day of the season.
Will the Yankees be good next year? Who knows? A rotation of Tanaka, Sabathia, Pineda, Green and Cessa doesn’t scare anyone, but it could be fun. A lineup with Ellsbury, Gardner, Headley, and McCann still sounds old. But not as old as adding A-Rod, Tex and Beltran. Bird was hurt and missed the whole year, but he looked real at the end of 2015. Torreyes was there all year as a utility infielder, and when he got more playing time showed that he could really field and could hit some. They won’t, of course, but the Yankees COULD field this lineup in 2016:
Catcher – Sanchez
First – Bird
Second – Castro
Short – Gregorius
Third – Torreyes
Left – Austin
Center – Williams or Hicks
Right – Judge
DH – Refsnyder
In this (fantasy) lineup, Didi Gregorius at 26 is the OLDEST player!
Rotation: Tanaka, Green, Cessa, Mitchell, Kaprelian
Tanaka at 28 (29?) is the old man here.
And of course EVERYONE can staff a bullpen with 20 somethings – Betances qualifies and he can pitch!
So I’m NOT quite ready to give it up. Baseball is fun again. Hooray!