Yes, there is much to talk about with the last-minute extended trade deadline today, and it’s once again kind of sad for Yankee Universe for now but also kind of positive for Yankee Universe in the future. But more on that later.
Today marked the opening day for the annual “Subway Series”. This year the Yankees play 2 game at CitiField in Queens, and then the Mets come to the Bronx for 2 more games to complete the series. Tonight, for the opener, the Yankees sent up CC Sabathia who really had a bit of an okay start overall. He threw 103 pitches into the 6 inning, gave up 8 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, striking out just 5 Mets batters.
A lead-off solo home run in the 2nd got things started for the Mets. A 1-out single in the 5th gave them another run on a 2-out RBI double. And in the 6th with 2 runners on base with singles and 1 out, Sabathia gave up a big 3-run home run to push the Mets into the lead. After another out and a walk, the Yankees brought in Richard Bleier, who promptly loaded the bases with a single and a walk. Nick Goody got them out of the inning in 5 pitches.
In the mean time, the Yankees weren’t exactly letting the Mets have this game easily. In the 4th, Ellsbury led-off with a double and Teixeira joined him on the base paths with a walk. McCann’s fly out moved Ellsbury to 3rd which then allowed him to score on a wild pitch. And in the 5th, with 1 out, Refsnyder worked a walk, moved to 2nd on Sabathia’s sacrifice bunt, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s double. Gardner himself then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single.
While the Mets had a slim lead over the Yankees, the Yankees’ pitching staff sailed through the Mets’ roster. Recently re-acquired Tyler Clippard (more below) breezed through the 7th inning in just 12 pitches. And Adam Warren continued to show the Yankees why he was needed back in pinstripes (or away greys tonight) through the scoreless 8th and 9th innings.
The Yankees tied everything up in the 8th. Gardner, on base with a walk, 2 outs, a new pitcher, and McCann singled on base only to be pinch-run by the speedy Torreyes, who proceeded to immediately take 2nd on a wild pitch. The stage was set for Didi Gregorius’ single to score both quick runners to tie up the game and make the Mets uncomfortable and heightened the drama for the over 40,000 fans in Queens.
And into extra innings, this game went. In the 10th, Ellsbury led-off with a walk and Teixeira singled. Pinch-hitter (and recently recalled) Ben Gamel then laid out a perfect bunt and beat the throw to load the bases. Something was cooking in Queens and it wasn’t coming from Shake Shack near center field. Then with 1 out, Starlin Castro hit a big sacrifice fly that scored Ellsbury to break the tie. It was just enough for the Yankees.
They sent in Dellin Betances, the new closer by default, for the 10th inning. But there was more drama to come. A lead-off double moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt; a hit-by-pitch landed runners in the corners; and a ground out put runners in scoring position. CitiField was split down the middle with the fans in orange hoping for a walk-off something and the fans in pinstripes hoping for an out. A nice strikeout it was, and Betances got his first save of the season.
Final score: 6-5 Yankees, in 10 innings.
Of course, one of the more interesting plays in the game happened at the very beginning. On the 2nd pitch of the game, Brett Gardner hit the ball right off the back wall of the park and safely had a triple. But due to his speediness and (according to Statcast) hitting 20.1 mph at one point, Gardner tried to stretch it into an inside-the-park home run. It was officially ruled as a triple with an out at home on the relay from right-center field. But we should have known this was going to be one of those games right then and there.
So trade updates… today, the Yankees said goodbye to Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova. And I don’t know which one Yankees fans are more upset about losing. The Yankees sent Beltran to the Rangers for 3 young pitchers — Dillon Tate (who went 4th overall in last year’s draft), Erik Swanson, and Nick Green. And the Yankees dealt Nova to the Pirates for 2 players to be named later.
Beltran has become a veteran presence on and off the field, in the clubhouse, and especially in the Latino arm of MLB. Plus, his recent spike in offensive contribution had people already talking about Cooperstown. Nova is considered a “homegrown Yankee”, having grown up in the farm system and making his debut with the team in 2010; this made 2016 his 7th season with the Yankees. Both join recent trades like Miller and Chapman in the growing list of now former Yankees that will be missed by the fans.
With all the empty spots on the active roster, the Yankees recalled outfielder Ben Gamel and reliever Nick Goody, and added recent trade acquisition Tyler Clippard to the active roster. Clippard was originally drafted by the Yankees in 2003 and made his debut with them in 2007 before he bounced around the league pitching for the Nationals, Athletics, Mets, and Diamondbacks. And now, full circle back to the Yankees.
It appears to many that the Yankees have “pulled the plug” on 2016 and are regrouping for the future. And to some extent, I agree with that. I think they realize that the nostalgic pull of the late 1990s dynasty is over (and as to when that actually ended is up for debate), and people are wanting a regrouping to focus on the next dynasty.
I think it can be compared to several times throughout Yankee history when the team needed to close the door on what were great stretches of great teams — Murders’ Row of the late 20’s and the 1950s with DiMaggio into Mantle, et al. greatness comes to mind. I think history is more likely to group the late-90s dynasty with those 2 eras rather than the almost fluke that was the late-70s “Bronx is Burning” team. Chalk it up to the known players or the multiple World Series wins or just a better overall team. Whatever makes you happiest, I guess.
Because for the first time in many current fans’ lives, the team isn’t dominating the AL East consistently. It’s playing… well, like a normal team. It’s nowhere near as bad as the Yankees that most of the bulk of their current fan base were born under (as I was) — most of the 1970s (save a couple of fluke years), the 1980s, and the early 1990s. We got spoiled. We got used to winning. We got used to being the “Evil Empire” and dominating all the little “rebel forces” trying to usurp our rightful throne.
So here’s the fun upshot in all this sudden cold rush of reality: the Yankees will always come back and dominate with another dynasty. It’s in their blood. It’s the DNA of the organization. It may not look like Gehrig or DiMaggio or Berra or Rivera. But it will happen again. And I’d actually bet the farm (so to speak) that it will happen again in our lifetime. Because that’s what the Yankees do. They win. They excel. They set the standard. And when they’re not doing it, they fight as hard as they can to right the ship so they’re on top once again.
Don’t give up on the boys just yet. It may be a long road, but they’re still fighting. And so should you.