Game 67: TB vs. NYY — Old Timers’ Day joy, but a series still won

For as long as I remember, summer wasn’t summer without baseball. And baseball wasn’t baseball without my dad. So, watching a ballgame on Father’s Day is a gift for me.

It reminds me of my childhood spent with dad watching games on a grainy black-and-white set while he explained the mechanics of the game and talked of legendary players. Reminds me summer days at the ballpark cheering on a favorite team, despite its dismal record, eating peanuts and telling jokes. Reminds me of the weekend Dad spent teaching us to play ball with his old bat and catcher’s mitt in the backyard. And as always, there was joy and fun building those family memories.

It is in those moments that my strong bonds between Dad and baseball are formed. Dad so enjoyed the game that we couldn’t help but learn the enjoy it too. Our family may all root for different teams now, but the common bond is still the game itself. Though he’s been gone nearly a decade now, Dad would love knowing his kids and grandkids are now building their own family memories around this same game of baseball.

And maybe that’s what he had in mind all along. Thanks, Dad!

In the final game of this weekend series against the visiting Rays, CC Sabathia had a great game overall, throwing 102 pitches into the 8th inning. He gave up 10 hits, a walk, and 3 runs, and solidly struck out 10 Rays’ batters.

The only runs the Rays scored tonight came in the 2nd inning. He gave up 2 consecutive singles to put runners on the corners before a double scored the lead runner. Two outs later, the batter hit a solid single that scored both runners, but then the Yankees defense kicked in and got the runner trying to stretch his single into a double.

Leaving the game to a standing ovation, Sabathia would have had a great game and probably a win had the Yankees had any kind of offensive support. Adam Warren came on to close out the 8th for Sabathia and throw a solid 9th inning, but the Yankees’ offense limped through the game. They still managed 7 hits and 4 walks on the board, but they only run they got was a 2-out solo home run in the 5th by Aaron Hicks.

Final score: 3-1 Rays, Yankees win series 3-1

Next up: The Yankees travel to Washington, D.C. to complete their previously suspended game from May 15. That game will conclude first, picking up in the 6th inning with the game tied 3-3. About 30 minutes after that conclusion, they will play the make-up game from May 16. The Yankees will head back to the Bronx for their 3-game mid-week series against the Mariners before beginning their road trip against the Rays.

Before the current Yankees took the field, Yankee fans were treated to witness the celebration of the 72nd Annual Old Timers’ Day, featuring many favorite players, spanning generations of greats from the 1940s to the 2010s. Always a fan-favorite day, players from decades of former Yankee rosters take the field for a few innings, full of good-natured competition and fun.

Before the action on the field, the familiar voice of the late Bob Sheppard greeted the fans to Old Timers Day and the stadium roared to life, and current Yankee broadcasters John Sterling and Michael Kay began the introductions of each participant.

After introducing the widows of former players — Jill Martin (Billy), Kay Murcer (Bobby), Diana Munson (Thurman), and Helen Hunter (Catfish) — they continued with a plethora of former Yankee greats like Dr. Bobby Brown, Bucky Dent, Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson, and Gene Monahan, among so many others of Yankee Universe. Fans cheered with standing ovations for pitching legends Whitey Ford and Don Larsen, now in their 80s, but looking spry and all smiles today.

(Full video of today’s introductions.)

The newest members making their debut at Old Timers’ Day were Dion James, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Nick Swisher, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone. It’s a bit of stretch to call most this group “old timers” (Swisher being just 37), but it was good to see this group again. Their relative youth brought a zeal and enthusiasm to the game. Especially fan-favorite Nick Swisher, as they welcomed him back to the Bronx with roaring applause. He waved and thanked the crowd with his signature smile and genuine gratitude, obviously much missed.

As they do every year, the players divided into two teams, the Bombers and the Clippers. The sheer joy of being in pinstripes and taking the field seemed to energize the crowds, and the game did not disappoint. Wild pitches and missed catches brought good-natured ribbing, and Swisher showed off his still-sharp baseball skills with a 2-run double and a big 3-run homer into the second deck. With pitching by the likes of Pettitte and hitting by Swisher, it was inevitbale that the Bombers would outscore the Clippers, final score of 15-3 by the end of their abbreviated game.

Following the game, Swisher was unofficially dubbed the “MVP” of today’s game, saying that today’s festivities sum up the joy of what its like to play baseball for a living. He said, “I feel like every time you take the field, you have a lifetime pass to be a little kid for as long as you want. For me, I’m just happy to be here. I couldn’t believe that [homer]. You only dream of stuff like that!” Close friend David Robertson made sure he celebrated right with his own Gatorade shower during his post-game interview.

Until next year…

Go Yankees!

Game 57: NYY vs. TOR — #CCStrong & Grand Slam Andujar

The Yankees are now “North of the Border” for a brief series in Toronto for another foray into the AL East rivalry. CC Sabathia got the start tonight, and once again, Sabathia just dominated. He threw 89 pitches in his 7th innings, gave up just 3 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs, and struck out 6 batters.

Actually, both of his allowed runs were 1-out solo homers in the 6th and 7th innings. That means, the only other allowed base runners were a lone single in the 1st and a walk in the 4th. David Robertson and Chasen Shreve each sailed through their separate innings and continued Sabathia’s strong start.

The Yankees were held off from the scoreboard for most of the game by the Blue Jays’ starter, despite collecting a hit in most of the innings leading up to the 7th. Their starter gave up a single to Sanchez in the 7th before handing the ball off to the bullpen. It might have been a mistake. The reliever hit the first batter and then gave up a walk to Hicks to load up the bases.

And then with no outs yet, it was up to Miguel Andujar to step into the batter’s box. He liked the first pitch he saw and smacked it into the 2nd deck of the left field seats, Andujar’s first career grand slam and 7th home run of the season, to put the Yankees in the lead with that 1 swing.

Then in the 8th, with a new Blue Jays’ reliever on the mound, Stanton led-off with a single, advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch, and got to 3rd on a ground out. After another out, they changed relievers again, and the new guy walked Gregorius, who promptly stole 2nd to put both runners in scoring position. Aaron Hicks made that possible with a solid 3-run home run to ensure the Yankees’ victory.

Also, all the runs scored for both teams tonight were scored on home runs. It’s a weird, random fact, but I know people like those. I know I do.

Final score: 7-2 Yankees

Injury update: the Yankees announced today that pitcher Jordan Montgomery is scheduled for Tommy John surgery on Thursday. The procedure will be performed by the Yankees’ team doctor Dr. Christopher Ahmad at New York-Presbyterian. Standard recovery time is 12-18 months, so Montgomery will be out of baseball activities for the rest of this year and most of next season.

That makes the search for a permanent starter inevitable. There is some room in the Yankees’ salary to sign someone significant without hitting the dreaded luxury tax. In other words, we should expect the Yankees to be making a deal for a 5th starter sometime soon.

MLB Draft Day 2: The Draft continued today with rounds 3-10 and the Yankees picked up 8 more potential prospects, every 30 selections (numbers 97-307 overall). They selected 2 outfielders and 6 pitchers — Ryder Green, Frank German, Brandon Lockridge, Rodney Hutchison, Daniel Bies, Connor Van Hoose, Mick Vorhof, and Josh Maciejewski.

Rounds 11-40 continue tomorrow, and the prospective players have some time to decided whether to sign or not with the organization. Many selected on a later round opt for their other commitments (usually attending or continuing college), which often allows them to re-enter the draft after getting some more playing time and refine their skills with their local and college teams.

You’ve got to do what’s right for you. You might not be drafted right out of high school in the 1st round (like Aaron Judge or Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez), but you may need to do a few years of college before being drafted in the 1st round (like Yankees’ Draft Rep Nick Swisher) or 3rd round (like Brett Gardner) or the 17th round (like David Robertson). Again, you do what works best for you.

Go Yankees!

Game 51: HOU vs. NYY — Gardy Party brings win in 10th, despite 5 errors

No one can say tonight’s game was anything close to cleanly played. Not with 5 errors on the scoreboard. The defense certainly needs some work, some basic throwing and catching and fielding routine grounders.

And yet, despite that mess, the Yankees kept the game tight enough to find a win in extra innings. CC Sabathia started this middle game of the mid-week series against the visiting Astros, threw 99 pitches in his 5 innings, gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs (3 earned, thanks to a few of those errors), and struck out 4 Houston batters.

A lead-off solo homer in the 2nd got the Astros on the board. In the 4th, with 1 out, Sabathia gave up a walk and single that both scored on a big double. And in the sloppy 5th, the lead-off batter made it safely on a messy throwing error, advanced all the way to 3rd on a single that was further complicated by another throwing error, and then scored on a single. A sacrifice fly scored on more run for the Astros.

Then Jonathan Holder came on in relief of Sabathia for 2 innings, and set a pattern the rest of the bullpen would keep for the rest of the game, keeping the Astros from adding to their score and lead. Robertson and Betances continued that momentum through their innings in the 8th and 9th, respectively.

And because this was that kind of game, the Astros’ pitching staff pretty much matched the Yankees’ in many ways. The Astros’ starter gave up 8 hits, a walk, and 3 runs in his time on the mound (6 innings). And most of their bullpen helped keep the Yankees from any potential hope, despite the close game and all their defensive errors.

I once heard someone say that the way Brett Gardner goes, so goes the Yankees. So we should have known something was up when Gardner led off the 1st inning with a big 2nd pitch solo home run. In the 2nd, with 2 outs, Miguel Andujar doubled, moved to 3rd on a passed ball, and then scored on Gleyber Torres’ single. Then the Yankees loaded up the bases with Gardner’s single and Judge’s walk, but left them stranded. Aaron Judge later kept the game tight with a 1st pitch solo home run to the right field seats to lead-off the 5th inning.

Again, a rather tight game ensued, which is really what surprised me with all the sloppy fielding. So into the bottom of the 9th, the Yankees found their next opportunity. Andujar led-off by working a walk, and then 1 out later, Brett Gardner hit 2-run home run just over the right field wall to tie up the game. And the remaining fans of the sold-out game went crazy. (This is the reason you stay until the last out, people!) Judge followed that with a solid double and moved to 3rd on Stanton’s 2-out single, but Sanchez’s big swinging strikeout sent them into the 10th inning.

Aroldis Chapman came on for the top of the 10th and held the Astros scoreless. With 2 outs, he gave up a walk that moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. But then on another wild pitch, catcher Gary Sanchez played the ball off the back wall and fired it down to a waiting Andujar at 3rd to tag out the runner there.

So the Yankees got their 2nd chance (or rather 10th, I guess) to find the winning run in the bottom of the inning. But with 2 fairly quick outs, things were looking grim. And then Miguel Andujar hit a solid double into the left field corner. It would be down to Gleyber Torres. He worked through the at-bat and somehow found a solid enough single to score the speedy Andujar with time to spare for a great walk-off win.

Final score: 6-5 Yankees, in 10 innings

If tonight is any indication, you can understand why the young rookie Gleyber Torres was named the AL Player of the Week. Last week, Torres hit 5 home runs and 9 RBIs and maintained an average of .368 in those 6 games. And he’s certainly making a case for being considered such on a regular basis.

And the annual amateur draft is coming up June 4-6. It’s where we first heard first-round names like Thurman Munson (1968), Derek Jeter (1992), and Aaron Judge (2013). Who knows who the Yankees will choose this year. And every year, the Yankees send representatives to make the announcements of their choices. This year, the Yankees will be represented by former Yankees outfielder and current special assistant to the GM Nick Swisher and Yankees Manager of International Operations Victor Roldan.

Go Yankees!

The off-season is over, at least for pitchers & catchers…

Tuesday, pitchers and catchers invited to Spring Training camp reported for duty at the Yankees minor league campus in Tampa. Yesterday, they spent Valentine’s Day working out for the first time together this season, doing throwing and catching drills and starting this season right with a sense of team unity. For the last few days, people have lingered on the sidewalk outside the complex, fans on the right, media on the left, and players have showed up to chat with the media and sign for the fans periodically leading up to this week. Now that things are in full swing, the location has shifted from the smaller facilities (on Himes Ave.) to those at Steinbrenner Field, with limited fan viewing available for the daily workouts (free for anyone with the time).

But for the media, it means official press conferences and pictures that aren’t shot through the chain link fence. Tuesday was new manager Aaron Boone’s first official conference addressing the media, and as expected, most of the questions included how he will approach managing differently. Of course, it’s going to be different because Boone is a different person than his predecessor Girardi or his predecessor (and Boone’s own manager when he was last in pinstripes) Torre. And right now, not a single pitch has been thrown or home run hit or out made, so discussion of play, potential, or even approach is really a little premature. It takes a while for players to gel with each other, and gelling with an almost entirely new different coaching staff could also take some time. Best case scenario: all the kinks get worked out in Spring Training because that’s what it’s for.

Last November, Aaron Judge underwent shoulder surgery to remove excess and loose cartilage in his left shoulder (non-throwing) and has been rehabbing this off-season. According to a press conference Wednesday, Judge has been a frequent face around the minor league complex this off-season and is considered “right on schedule”, despite potentially missing the first few Spring Training games. Fortunately, the goal isn’t February 23 (the first Spring game) but rather March 29 (the first season game).

Meanwhile, other teammates have focused on their own aspects of prepping for 2018. Gary Sanchez spent the off-season refining his defensive skills, something of much discussion last year. Dellin Betances dropped some weight in hopes of being able to have a better 2018 than some of the lag he experienced in 2017. CC Sabathia also focused on his health, adopting a vegan diet, and hoping to build strength to combat lingering knee issues. And new Yankee Giancarlo Stanton used his social media to show #NoOffSeason in anticipation of becoming a Yankee this year.

Pitchers and catchers continue their daily workouts this week, as more fielders show up ahead of their check-in day Sunday (February 18), with the first full squad workout day this coming Monday. Meeting the team this year are an interesting group of guest instructors — veteran guests: Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, and Willie Randolph; and new(ish) guests: Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Alfonso Soriano, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and Bernie Williams. I expect the Opening Day cheers to be intense as they see some of these fan favorites back in pinstripes and on the field during introductions.

Spring Training is just days away, and it’s already shaping up to be quite the adventure. One that I think we’re all hoping can translate into that elusive #28, the ultimate goal of every season, but one that is completely possible at this point in the year.

Go Yankees!

Note: I was setting up to work on this post yesterday when the news broke out of south Florida, just 270 miles (about 3.5-4 hours) southeast of Tampa. In light of the unfolding story, it didn’t feel right to preempt the news with baseball preparations and wishing people a “Happy Valentine’s Day”, when for far too many it will now never be a happy day. Instead, we remember those once again lost to mass shooting, our hearts and prayers with their families and friends. I hope I never have to delay a post for such an awful reason or write another of these postscripts. It is heartbreaking and disheartening. Parkland, we mourn with you and anticipate days when such terrible news is as rare as violent home plate collisions are now in baseball.

Spring Game 29: PHI vs. NYY — Pulling it all together in the end

Players don’t win games, teams do. It’s why the concept of teamwork is vital to team sports like baseball. So every player must do their part, the best to be part of that team in order to do something good — like win games.

CC Sabathia got the start today against the visiting Phillies, pitching into the 6th inning. Sabathia had a lone sticky inning, but really came up strong for most of the game. Part of this was due to the support of his teammates behind him. Sabathia gave up 9 hits and a walk over his tenure on the mound, and struck out just 1 Phillies batter.

In the 2nd inning, Sabathia faced 8 batters and had trouble putting together those 3 outs. After getting 3 strong outs in the 1st inning, he followed that up with another one to kick off the inning, but then he gave up 2 singles, a wild pitch, and a walk to load up the bases. Another single scored the 2 runs for the Phillies, and one more single loaded up the bases again. The next batter hit a dribbler to 3rd base and Headley made the play at home to stop the scoring before Sanchez fired it to 1st just a hair late to keep the bases loaded. The final batter hit into a short grounder to get the runner at 2nd for the force and get the Yankees out of trouble.

Thankfully, those 2 runs would be the only runs the Phillies scored this afternoon. Mostly because of the stellar pitching from Dellin Betances, who closed out the 6th inning, and Luis Severino, who cemented his spot in the rotation with 3 flawless innings and 5 nasty strikeouts to freeze the Phillies’ offense.

The Yankees’ offense was up against a pretty good pitcher today, who certainly held the Yankees off for most of the game during his strong time on the mound, into the 7th inning. His immediate reliever continued the strong pitching. Both of these pitchers could rely on their infield especially to make the sharp plays to turn the Yankees’ hits into routine ground outs. The Yankees had a single opportunity in the 3rd inning after Hicks worked the Yankees’ lone walk of the game to lead-off the inning. Judge followed him up with a single and then ended up at 2nd when the next batter hit into a double play (getting Hicks at 3rd and the out at 1st). But Judge would go on to score from 2nd on Brett Gardner’s nice single to get the Yankees on the board.

And on into the bottom of the 9th, they went. With a new pitcher on the mound for the Phillies, the Yankees pulled it all together to make a difference. Avelino led-off with a single and then scored on Castillo’s big double to tie up the game. Then down 2 outs, Amburgey stepped up and hit a solid single to score Castillo (thanks to a really bad throw to the plate too) for a wonderful walk-off win.

Final score: 3-2 Yankees

Player of the Game: I really can’t make this call today for a few reasons. First, we’re in the final week of games, so a lot of the young guys that qualify for this category are now reassigned to minor league camp (more below). And second, today’s game was the perfect example of many of the players contributing to make it work. And I guess today’s POTG would go to the team. With Severino on the mound for the final third of the game, the players had the opportunity to show what it meant to work together in the field. And in the final inning, they collaborated to tie up the game and then win it in a walk-off. Everyone worked together, so everyone won.

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Honoring the 2016 AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for their Championship Season, Steinbrenner Field, March 24, 2017 [photo courtesy of author]
And it’s no surprise really because before today’s game, the Yankees honored the 2016 AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team, who won the International League championship, the Governor’s Cup, and the AAA National Championship last year, with a special video recap of their season and then presented last year’s roster with their championship rings and had the championship trophy on display at Steinbrenner Field. Last year’s roster included Tyler Austin, Johnny Barbato, Luis Cessa, Aaron Judge, Brady Lail, Pete Kozma, Rob Refsnyder, Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, and Nick Swisher. (No wonder they won!)

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The Champion 2016 RailRiders & their new hardware [photo courtesy of author]
And in some roster moves today: prior to today’s game, the Yankees optioned reliever Luis Cessa to AAA Scranton and reassigned him to minor league camp. Joining him there were infielder Ji-Man Choi, outfielders Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier, and Billy McKinney, and pitcher Jason Gurka. They also received reliever Tyler Jones as a Rule 5 Draft return from the Diamondbacks, who was assigned to AAA Scranton and minor league camp. (A Rule 5 Draft return is when a player is selected by another team as part of a deal, but then because he isn’t signed formally by that team, he is returned back to his original team.)

Go Yankees!

67 men, a broken foot, words, old guys, and hope… it’s always about hope

So, we’re up to 67 players in camp this week. Pitchers and catchers reported a week ago, and everyone showed up on Saturday. Their first full work out as a team then was Sunday, and things are off to a good start.

With one exception. Tyler Austin, who was hoping to make the Opening Day roster, at least a bench player, took a foul ball off his foot during live batting practice and fractured his foot. Currently in a boot and hobbling around camp, Austin will be out for at least 6 weeks. Realistically, Austin was up against primary contenders for 1st base Greg Bird (coming back off his own injury last year) and veteran Chris Carter (who the Yankees signed recently for veteran presence and platooning possibilities). While his start could be slow this year, Austin will probably see major league time, much like he did last year.

One of the recent signings, infielder Chris Carter, while initially viewed as a replacement power-hitting DH (for Rodriguez) platooning there with Matt Holliday (who can also play outfield), Carter can also platoon at 1st base, which is especially crucial now that Austin will be out for a while. Carter began his career with 3 seasons with the Athletics before spending the next 3 with the Astros, and last year, he played 160 games with the Brewers, hitting 41 home runs. To make room for Carter, the Yankees designated reliever Richard Bleier for assignment.

Contract negotiations are never easy. Several Yankees negotiated through their contracts as usual, avoiding arbitration. But Dellin Betances was the lone holdout this year. He (and his agent) held to one number, but the Yankees wanted to pay a bit less than that. As neither side was willing to compromise, a mediator was hired and met with both sides late last week. After each side argued their case, the mediator agreed with the Yankees, and Betances reported to camp. Unfortunately, there were a few harsh words expressed publicly, which promoted Betances to respond publicly. No one needs these distractions, so I hope this is done with now so that everyone can move on with the season.

Joe Girardi had the best outlook on the season, equating it to the mid-90s in style and feel during his first press conference of the season last week. With the recent departure of Teixeira, Rodriguez, McCann, and Beltran, the team overall is very young, with the average age of the 40-man roster currently at 26.65, about 3 years younger than the average 4 years ago. Sometimes, those three years make all the difference. But it’s a long season before we can tell how that shakes out.

Speaking of the “old guys”, Nick Swisher recently announced his retirement from playing professional baseball (in a way only he could) and was invited by the Yankees as a guest instructor to camp. Swisher showed up (complete with his old #33) yesterday to help counsel and coach the young team. Joining him at camp today will be Alex Rodriguez who will fit into this role he’s been sort of doing for the last couple of seasons anyway. Both former teammates will be joining Mark Teixeira in the broadcasting booth (though they’ll be in different booths) as all three now have contracts to work part of the season as color commentators in addition to their regular life roles as being “dad” (a role which all three are very much enjoying giving much more time to).

Spring Training begins Friday. Yes, three days until the crack of the bat, the smell of the dirt and sweat, the noisy vendors hocking beer and peanuts, the chatter dissecting Girardi and Cashman’s every choice, the smiles in anticipation and hope, the slumped shoulders in defeat, the grim line of determination, the hustle, the fervor, and the hope. It’s always about hope, isn’t it? Hope that maybe this year could be The Year. Hope that something that started decades ago as a dream could be that reality, echoed in the cheers of thousands of fans and deep in the hearts of all those who wear (and once wore) the pinstripes.

Go Yankees!

All the latest updates, farewells, outreaches, and honors… it’s been a busy 5 weeks!

Between the Cubs’ victory parade, postseason awards, Thanksgiving, Winter Meetings, and now the approaching week filled with Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year, the Yankees have been everything but quiet and stagnant. Some years, Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman’s job seems to just sit back and watch other teams do the postseason dance that is somewhere between an elegant waltz and a fire-sale at times. But not this year.

Cashman has been busy, even making some pretty big moves. First, in the middle of last month, he traded catcher Brian McCann (and cash considerations) to the Astros for a pair of young pitchers Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. Sorry, McCann fans, but McCann wasn’t exactly ready to be a once-a-week player with Gary Sanchez taking a much larger (and well-deserved role). This was a good move for everybody.

Earlier this week, as part of the Winter Meetings (hosted at the beautiful Gaylord Resort, just south of D.C.), Cashman also made a play for two big players. First, he signed Matt Holliday, a veteran outfielder who is slated to primarily fill the position previously occupied by Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran (outfielder/designated hitter). Holliday, a 7-time All-Star, began his career with the Rockies, spending 5 seasons there and making a name for himself, before finding a nice home with the Cardinals for the last 7 1/2 seasons, being a crucial part of their 2011 World Series championship. Holliday seems very excited to be playing in New York, which isn’t really surprising as he wore #7 in St. Louis for Mickey Mantle. You know, David Ortiz said once last season that there are two kinds of players — those who were born to play with the Yankees and those born to play against them (Ortiz being the latter).

Another big pick-up was the deal made when the Yankees signed Aroldis Chapman to a 5-year, $86 million deal. Yes, Chapman fans, two of the Warriors Three will be back in the Bronx for the foreseeable future. This time, with Chapman’s shiny World Series ring glaring and pushing the Yankees to give him another one. A physical exam is still pending the finality of this contract, but things look good for the closer to return to Yankee pinstripes for the next five seasons.

Cashman’s focus was clearly on building up the bullpen as most of the roster moves these last 5 weeks. So try to keep up: Branden Pinder was originally designated for assignment early in November, but then was outrighted to AAA Scranton, so we’ll be seeing Pinder again; Joe Mantiply (after being claimed off waivers from the Tigers), Nick Rumbelow, and Nathan Eovaldi were designated for assignment and then released all three of them just before Thanksgiving; James Pazos was traded to the Mariners for reliever Zack Littell; Dustin Ackley was released; Jacob Lindgren elected free agency; and the Yankees then filled a bunch of holes on their roster with minor leaguers Jorge Mateo and Yefrey Ramirez (from the Single-A Tampa Yankees), Ronald Herrera and Miguel Andujar (from AA Trenton),  and Dietrich Enns and Giovanny Gallegos (from AAA Scranton).

But it didn’t stop there. In coordination with the Rule 5 Draft, the Yankees moved some minor leaguers around and said some goodbyes. The Brewers claimed reliever Caleb Smith, the Red catcher Luis Torrens, reliever Tyler Jones went to Arizona, and the Pirates got reliever Tyler Webb. The Yankees themselves picked up a few minor leaguers, catcher Jorge Saez (Blue Jays) and reliever Colten Brewer (Pirates).

All the postseason awards have been doled out, and the Yankees got… two. And nothing went to our Rookie of the Year, Gary Sanchez. No, the big Yankee winner this postseason was Brett Gardner, who took home both the Gold Glove and Defensive Player of the Year for doing the outstanding job we’re used to seeing out there in left field.

However, there are a few alumni honors come next month. BBWAA vote for the Class of 2017, with any new inductees to be announced next month. Several former Yankees grace the ballot this year, none more so than Jorge Posada (the first of the Core Four to reach such an honor). However, the chances everyone seems to hold for Posada (and the few other Yankees alums) seem rather slim, especially as the voters seem to be rather stringent in their voting, less nostalgic as your average baseball fan and more strategic in their selection parameters.

Also selected for Hall of Fame honors this year are current Braves’ president John Schuerholz and former MLB commissioner Bud Selig, both elected by the Today’s Game Committee. Other familiar faces on this ballot, who failed to make the cut this year, include former manager and player Lou Pinella, former players Albert Belle, Orel Hershiser, and Mark McGwire, and former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Debates as to which of these deserve to be in Cooperstown rage on.

Two other awards honored journalists for outstanding writing and broadcasting — the late Bill King, known for his coverage of San Francisco sports, distinctive facial hair, and his catchphrase “Holy Toledo!”, and veteran journalist Claire Smith, who became the first woman to receive the honor. Neither will be officially in the Hall of Fame, but will be part of a permanent exhibit to honor such journalist excellence and contribution to the game. I mean, without them, our knowledge of the game would not be what it is today, even with direct information like social media. It would certainly make my job a lot harder!

And speaking of Yankee alumni, the Yankees announced that they will be officially retiring the number 2 in honor of Derek Jeter on before the game on Sunday, May 14. Rather fitting really, with the extensive knowledge of how close Jeter is with his family, Jeter’s long-sacred number will become the 22nd one the Yankees send to Monument Park, and with that move, all the single digits (save a zero) are officially removed from jersey circulation. Single game tickets are not directly available yet (though they feature prominently on the secondary online marketplaces), though season tickets and multi-game ticket packages are available.

This week, in Tampa, the Yankees foundation hosted their holiday celebration, led by Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal with special guests Alex Rodriguez, Tino Martinez, and Nick & Joanna Swisher. Hundreds of local children were treated to the Yankees 28th Annual Holiday Concert, complete with gifts and carol singing, in preparation for the holidays. The Yankees also hosted other local community outreaches in New York for the holidays including a Thanksgiving food drive and giving back to the children and families of the Bronx with a great goodie bag full of both basic necessities and special gifts.

Looking ahead, many players have already committed to playing for various teams around the world in the World Baseball Classic this March. The Yankees only current representative is Dellin Betances, who agreed to play for the reigning champions, the Dominican Republic, alongside former teammate Cano. Other former Yankees who will play in the WBC include Martin for Canada and Beltran for Puerto Rico. Betances, who was also recently married, will be an outstanding contribution to any team. Also, a big congratulations to Dellin and Janisa Betances!

As far as everything else, there’s still 63 days until Pitchers and Catchers report for Spring Training. So there’s a lot of time left for the Yankees to do something else, despite reports that they’re pretty much done with big moves this off-season. That statement, however, doesn’t preclude any minor “tweaking”, and you must know by now they love their “tweaking”. Enjoy your holiday season!

Go Yankees!