Missing the Pinstripes in October…
I seriously thought the Boston Red Sox would advance to the World Series this year (to play the Chicago Cubs). For some reason, it appeared to be destiny that Theo Epstein, who broke the Curse of the Bambino, would have the opportunity to break the Lovable Losers’ long-standing World Series drought against his former team.
Admittedly, I was not disappointed to see the Cleveland Indians, and in particular manager Tito Francona, upstage Boston with the ALDS series win, sending the Red Sox home. Primarily because of reliever Andrew Miller, I am pulling for the Indians in the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays. Francona has long been one of my favorite managers so it’s an easy team to root for.
Granted, I am still pulling for the Los Angeles Dodgers given they are my favorite NL team, however, I believe this is the year of the Chicago Cubs.
So, at this point, the only team I don’t really want to see in the World Series is the Blue Jays. As a Yankees fan, it is very difficult to root for other AL East teams.
It is interesting that if the Indians and Cubs do meet in the Fall Classic, the two best Yankees relievers at the start of the year will be facing one another. Miller, during his short time in New York, was my favorite Yankee after the retirement of Mariano Rivera. Miller was great in New York, but Francona has found ways to use Miller in superior ways to take full advantage of the pitcher’s greatness. Aroldis Chapman is arguably one of the best closers in baseball and he could very well find himself back in pinstripes at the end of the year. It would be very fun to watch these two brilliant pitchers work their magic in the game’s biggest stage.
Every team remaining in the playoffs has at least one former Yankee on its roster. Cleveland has former Yankees prospect Zach McAllister in addition to Miller. The Cubs have Chapman. The Dodgers have Rich Hill, who was briefly a Yankee a few years ago. Lastly, the Blue Jays have former Yankees catcher Russell Martin. His backup is former Yankees prospect Dioner Navarro. So, at least one ex-Yankee is guaranteed a ring this year.
Perhaps they should invite him to Old Timer’s Day so that he can continue to terrorize Yankee pitching…
While there was delight in watching the Indians beat the Red Sox, there was sadness watching the end of the brilliant career of David Ortiz. He was such a thorn in the Yankees’ side over the years, but I built up great respect for the player. He ended his career without a noticeable dropoff in ability and production. By comparison, it was clear Alex Rodriguez was done when he left. Ortiz could have stayed in the game a few more years, earning multi-millions of dollars. He should get the call for Cooperstown one day. He earned it. He is one of the very few players that was able to end his career on his terms.
Coming soon to a stadium near you…
Last year in the Arizona Fall League, we were able to get an advance preview of how great catcher Gary Sanchez could be. This year, pitcher James Kaprielian and shortstop Gleyber Torres have stood out in the early days of the AFL. Kaprielian is showing that the Yankees should look inward for help in the starting rotation next spring, and Torres is providing a glimpse of the future when Yankees will be forced to make decisions regarding incumbent starters Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro to make room for Torres and second baseman/shortstop Jorge Mateo.
Credit: Tim Holle/Brevard County Manatees via River Ave Blues
It’s also good to see first baseman Greg Bird, the most probable replacement for the retired Mark Teixeira, back on the field. He does seem a little out of place in the AFL as a bonafide major leaguer among a sea of prospects, but the lost year due to injury makes this a necessity to prepare Bird for next season.
I am anxious for the current season to reach its conclusion so that the Hot Stove League can start to simmer. I am anxious to see what GM Brian Cashman can do to help the Yankees take the first step back to contender status. This was a very promising year after the so-so start. I don’t expect the Yankees to be World Series contenders next year, but I do believe that another championship could be attained within two to three years with the right moves now. I am hopeful that 2017 brings more of what we saw in September with the Baby Bombers.
As the saying goes, time will tell as it often does…