Off-season bits: February edition, part 2

In a quick follow-up to this week’s news, the Yankees announced one return and one retirement, each hosting their own press conference yesterday (Saturday). At least four more seasons with one player, and a final one with another.

Luis Severino was set to sit down for arbitration to argue out a number for his salary and years with the Yankees, but just before doing so, he (via his agent) and the Yankees agrees to terms. So Severino re-signed back to the team for 4 more years, through 2022, for $40 million, with an option for 2023. Before talking with the press with his wife and agent, he called his mom, who asked if he won. “No,” he said, “but I got $40 million.” Her response? “Oh, that’s more than $5 million.”

Severino is the presumptive Opening Day starter, after being in the conversation for the Cy Young Award last year, and really proving to the team his ace status. Severino has carved his niche with the starting rotation, taking the lead away from veterans like Sabathia and stars like Tanaka. But deservedly so. Now, he’ll be continuing to carve his Yankee legacy for the next four (or five) years, becoming the anchor to the starting rotation.

Of course, that position formerly was held by Yankees star pitcher CC Sabathia. But in recent years, his physical injuries (like his knees) and recovery from alcoholism removed him from the ace to the support, though he certainly hasn’t slowed in his production, having some of the best outings in the most recent seasons.

Sabathia, joined by his wife Amber and three of his four kids, formally announced his retirement, making 2019 his final major league season. He’s just 14 strikeouts away from the career milestone of 3000 strikeouts (something only 16 other pitchers have done). And conversations have already started about a certain voting process in 5 years, wondering if Cooperstown will make that call for the veteran pitcher. (It should, by the way, but that’s a conversation for another post.)

Missing from the Sabathia entourage was his oldest son, who was busy with his own athletics at his high school, and his mother Margie, who years ago famously donned all the catcher’s gear to help him practice his pitching. Sabathia is looking forward to playing Mr. Mom and enjoying things like summer vacations and holidays in between keeping up with his foundation that continues to impact inner city kids in his hometown of Oakland and current residence of the New York area.

Sabathia is a fan favorite, even of those who aren’t Yankee fans because of his love of the game, and a favorite among players, alumni, and other athletes all over. People’s good wishes came pouring in and will continue to follow Sabathia as he begins his “farewell tour”, also known as the 2019 season. He will also host kids from every local Boys & Girls Club at every American League city (plus San Francisco) the Yankees visit this season to honor the impact of the organization on his own life, something he credits with saving him and helping him become a professional ball player.

Both Severino and Sabathia talked a lot about the person who’d been their top supporter, their mothers. YES Network reporter Jack Curry noted this and posted a short video about how important mothers are in baseball.

It struck a chord with me too. I know my own mother is the reason I’m such a fan, and the person who usually sits next to me at baseball games. She’ll be at every Spring Training game with me in just a few days, and she’ll have a thousand things to say, opinions, questions, and comments that lead to really intense discussions. But there’s something about baseball and moms. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Go Yankees!

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