Well, it’s officially here. Spring Training 2015 started today in Tampa as 25 pitchers and catchers from the roster and 17 non-roster invitee pitchers and catchers reported for duty today. And it’s really, really cold. Okay, so it’s Florida and our “really, really cold” is overnight in the upper-30s, waking up in the 40s, and hitting a high of about mid-50s. I know it’s all relative, and I’m sure those of you in the Northeast who are shivering in double-digit negative numbers or still shoveling feet of snow from your yards would do most anything for 30-50 degree temperatures. Sorry. But remember the start of baseball season is the start of Spring… warm weather is on its way… eventually.
While 42 players found their lockers, worked out, talked with the media, signed autographs for eager fans, and generally got used to the complex (and its new features), Yankees manager Joe Girardi sat down to talk with the media in his annual “State of the Team” press conference. Of course there were the obvious questions about replacing recently retired players or the return of recently suspended players, those regarding the pitching staff and its struggles last year with injuries, but the majority of the time, Girardi spent time with the standard Yankee rhetoric of “we’re here to play and we’re here to win”.
The difficulty with addressing issues even before all the players have even donned the uniform is that so much of it revolves around assumptions and speculation. One year ago, did the Yankees really anticipate the loss of 4 of their 5 starters to various injuries? Was anyone talking about anything but Jeter’s “not a farewell tour”? Did anyone see non-roster invitee Whitley starting his first MLB game at Citi Field this last May? Or that fan favorites Soriano, Kuroda, and Ichiro would spend their last days in pinstripes in 2014? Was anyone even thinking that former manager Joe Torre would be elected to the Hall of Fame and have his number retired in Monument Park?
It’s only February 20. There’s still so much baseball to play, time to stay healthy, moments to cherish and remember, and a surprise player that will shoot himself into the spotlight, perhaps briefly, but take Yankee Universe by storm. How do I know this? Because it literally happens every year. And this is a brand new year, a new day, if you will. Fresh, with no mistakes in it… yet.
Girardi joked that he made need name tags to keep all the new guys straight. I think I agree with him. It may be the first year I regret the Yankees don’t wear names on their jerseys. But then this must be what most teams go through every year. I compared the 2014 Spring Roster to the Spring Roster for this year, and unlike for 2014, I had a lot more new typing than copy and pasting. It’s a new era in Yankees baseball.
But I don’t think I mind. Sometime change is terrible, but I think this is a good change, a leap forward (though some feel it rather begrudgingly). I mean, the current status quo hasn’t really worked out so well for the last few years, so why not shake things up. It reminds me of the 1996 season, when everyone (even some rather important Yankees’ higher-ups) thought the Yankees were down for the count even before Opening Day. And we all know how that worked out.
Besides, I’d rather hope for something amazing and positive and be wrong, than dread the worst and be right. This should say a lot as I really like to be right. But this early in the 2015 season, maybe we all can believe that I could be right and the Yankees could really bring home that 28th Championship.