Tonight, President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom posthumously to Yogi Berra for his service to his country through his time in the navy, his excellence in athletics, and his continued contributions to the world after he hung up his cleats, including the education and development held daily at the museum that bears his name in New Jersey. His son Larry and many of his children and grandchildren were on hand for the celebration at the White House tonight. Fellow baseball legend Willie Mays was also honored with the Medal of Freedom tonight. Both men are legends not just for who they were on the field but for the men they were off the field. May we see more legends just like them to be a credit to the game and to humanity for their excellence and compassion and heart for greatness and goodness.
As you know, I’ve never given much credence to rumors that perpetually circulate around about baseball. It doesn’t mean I’m not aware of their existence or that I don’t have an opinion on them. In fact, it usually means that I’m waiting on confirmation before I actually pass on such information, turning rumor into truth. However, some rumors start ridiculous and remain ridiculous until they have proved themselves nothing but ridiculous.
So, to be clear, there are many off-season rumors circulating about possible major veteran trades, unhappy former players, possible top-market free agents skipping town, the details of the personal lives of Yankee alumni, and random speculation on the future of prospects. Rumors, all of them. Some could be true, some won’t be, and some are better left to be dealt with privately.
Something that isn’t a rumor any longer is that pitcher Chase Whitley was picked up off waivers by the Rays. So, we’ll be seeing Whitley when the Yankees play the Rays often as they will being division rivals. Best of luck to him. He deserves any great opportunity to shine more.
Also, the Yankees and local volunteers continue their tradition of serving their community in the off-season. For the upcoming holiday, they handed out food vouchers and then opened the stadium up for a community dinner serving East Harlem and the South Bronx a nice Thanksgiving buffet this past Saturday.
And Brian Cashman slept outside once again last week to help raise awareness for the homeless youth of the City. For the last five years, Cashman has worked with local ministry Covenant House and participated in its annual “Sleep Out” with hundreds of leaders and figures from across the U.S. and Canada in 15 cities. This year’s goal was to raise $6 million dollars for the organization to help provide resources to help homeless kids with food, shelter, and basic necessities.
Awards update: a handful of Yankees were up for a few awards this postseason, as usual. But only one made it. A big well-deserved congratulations to Brian McCann on his sixth Silver Slugger Award (his 1st in New York). McCann beat out every other AL catcher, including this year’s World Series MVP with his outstanding offensive year, leading all AL catchers in home runs and leading the Yankees in RBIs. Silver Slugger Awards are based on statistics, but are also given the added weight of being voted on by MLB coaches and managers.
More postseason award information and complete MLB coverage can be found here.
And while I’m always a big supporter of the rivalry, I admit I was a little sad to hear that long-time Red Sox slugger David Ortiz will be hanging up his cleats at the end of the 2016 season. Ortiz has been a major part of the latest Red Sox dynasty and their three most recent World Series championships (2004, 2007, and 2013). Ortiz and the Yankees (specifically those around during those years, the “old guard” from the “glory years” about a decade and a half ago) are a big part of my own memories of the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. Ortiz also just loves baseball, and it shows in his passion and grit on the field and his gregarious nature off the field. We in Yankee Universe wish you the best of luck in your endeavors in everything but against the Yankees your last season.
With “Big Papi” retiring, it’s like the last of the old guard is finally saying “good bye”. I look back at who actually played in those rivalry games, especially in the harsh postseasons of 2003 and 2004. And Papi is really the last of those guys. The Core Four is on “daddy duty” for the most part now, and the rest of the guys on those teams are rather scattered to the four corners either wrapping up their playing careers or figuring out this post-baseball life. It really is the end of an era. And it really is kind of sad. I really need to process this personally, but I’d expect to see a blog post of some sort in the near future.
But to end this on a positive note, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe, and enjoy your time of good family and friends. Be thankful and do something worthy this holiday. Because we can feel all sorts of good vibes and positive thoughts, but they’re rather worthless unless you give them out into the world. Be a blessing to someone this holiday.
You guys are a blessing to me! I’m grateful for all of you this year.