In the great tradition started by the tremendous Yankees blogger, Jimmy Curran, I dedicate this blog to #12 (thanks to the latest Leaders List for Fan Blogs that Mark posted on Friday). There are so many great bloggers on the list, and it is certainly an honor and privilege to be among such outstanding writers and fans. Congratulations to everyone who made the list! MLBlogs is the premier baseball blogging site because of all of you!
For number 12, I thought about who I should write about. Unfortunately, the Yankees current #12 is not someone that I’ve been enamored with. I have openly expressed a desire for the Yankees to pursue third base options other than Cody Ransom, so he’s out. Then there’s Alfonso Soriano. He was fun to watch as a Yankee, but he’s toiling at Wrigley Field these days. So, I decided to write about the first Yankees #12 that I distinctly remember.
Jim Spencer, known for his excellent fielding skills, played for a few American League clubs in the early 1970’s (most notably the California Angels, although I probably remember him more as a member of the Chicago White Sox).
Spencer came to the Yankees in 1978, and played in 71 games for the World Championship club that staged one of the greatest comebacks ever against the Boston Red Sox. It was a season that was highlighted by Bucky (bleeping) Dent’s home run in the one game play-off at Fenway Park. .
Spencer was the batter who preceded Dent before his historic homer, but he popped out with two runners on base. Can you imagine how much differently we would have remembered Spencer had he hit the home run instead of Dent?
In 1979, Spencer hit a career high of 23 home runs. He ended his career with the Oakland A’s in 1982.
I can still remember the comments Jim Spencer made about Catfish Hunter during the pitcher’s funeral in 1999. “When we won in ’78, the team headed to New York for a ticker tape parade — 27 blocks, 27 million people. I was in it, Jimmy was only interested in coming home to Hertford (NC). Deer hunting season opened the next day,” remembered Spencer. “He was the kind of player whose competitive drive spilled over to his teammates.” Considering that Hunter was one of my personal favorites, I recall being very touched about Spencer’s words since everyone knew how much the outdoors meant to Catfish.
Sadly, just three years later, Spencer was taken from us too soon when he died from a heart attack. He will always be remembered as part of the historic 1978 World Champions that included Hunter, Dent, Goose Gossage, Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Willie Randolph, Mickey Rivers, Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella, Cliff Johnson, Paul Blair, Roy White and others…
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YANKEES HAPPENINGS AND OTHER NEWS
It was a slow day for Yankees news on Friday.
CC Sabathia looked ready to roll in his spring training win over the Cincinnati Reds (retiring 16 consecutive batters at one point).
It sounds as though Joe Girardi will be announcing the starting centerfielder later this weekend, with Brett Gardner the most likely selection. It’s great that both Brett and Melky Cabrera had such good springs. Just because one may be selected as the starter now does not mean that the other won’t be starting by June, or prevent Mike Cameron from arriving prior to the trade deadline. But all things considered, I like the intangibles that Brett brings to the lineup. His blazing speed is very exciting, and he makes things happen on the base paths. But I also recognize that Austin Jackson will enter the mix next year, or perhaps even later this year. So, nothing is set in stone in centerfield.
If the decision is between Alfredo Aceves and Brett Tomko, I’d go with Aceves…
I liked Derek Jeter’s comment about leading off instead of batting second: “You hit 60 seconds earlier than you normally do.”
It doesn’t sound like David Robertson will make the club. I am hopeful that if he is sent down, he’ll continue to improve and make a speedy return to the Bronx.
As spring training nears an end, I am very pleased with the progress made by several areas of concern, most notably Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. I am dreading the day Mo walks off the mound for the final time.
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There is continued concern over Joba’s loss of speed on his fastball. After routinely hitting the gun at 98 MPH last season, he’s been more in the 88 to 92 MPH range and only hit 94 MPH a couple of times in his last start. The Yankees and Joba don’t seem concerned, but there are definitely some mechanics that need to be worked out. This could be a defining moment for pitching coach Dave Eiland.
I was pleased to hear that Aaron Boone’s open heart surgery went well on Thursday. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery!
It’s going to be a fun year in the American League East as even the Orioles and Blue Jays have solid talent on their teams. Maybe not enough to contend, but they’ll have a say in the eventual Division winner.
Regardless of what happens, I have a feeling that this will be a very special year for all of us (baseball fans, not just Yankees fans). It’s the dawn of a great season…
Have a great day!