Saturday, November 5, 2011

Yankeetorial: As the Kei Igawa story begins a new chapter, will the Yankees again play the fool?

Sadly, the lassies of the NY's Rochester/Batavia corridor will be denied a chance in 2012 to experience the all-time leader in wins, innings and strikeouts from Scranton, Pa., on their fertile fields of play. The Scranton Yankees, who will play games on the road, will stagger north without Kei Igawa.

Talks broke down - after seven seconds - between the Yankees and the three-time IT IS HIGH Yankee Employee of the Month winner, prompting Igawa to declare for free agency. The Yankees will get nothing for the pitcher, known for his love of the Japanese game shogi. It's over. We never even got to call him "Shogi Berra."

We've ragged many times about the Great Igawa Debacle: How the Yankees buried a LH pitcher in Scranton for five years, while running nonstop cattle calls for lefty bullpen help. The reasons were complicated, as Bill Pennington's piece in the NYT pointed out last summer. Still, I'll never understand how we couldn't deal Igawa for something, a bucket of fried chicken at least. In the end, I believe they simply didn't want to give him a chance to remind the world of their mistake.

Well, Igawa could get the last laugh. They say he's not interested in returning to Japan. If he signs with an MLB team and pitches well - I know, you're laughing at this thought - what will it say about the Yankee braintrust?

But that's not my concern. Kei Igawa is being presented as the reason we should pass on Yu Darvish, the next big thing from Japan. In every Darvish story, Igawa pops up like a chattering midway whack-a-mole, Exhibit A for the argument to be cheap.

Disclaimer: I have no clue whether Darvish is any good. I'd suggest 99.9 percent of the bloggers who do are bullshitting.

Nevertheless, I hope the Yankees sign Darvish, even if at a high price. It's been a while since we shelled out for a famous international prospect, the kind you follow from Day One. (Is it my imagination, or isn't Texas winning those bidding wars?) The story line might be tragic, but it's always fun to follow.

Listen: As Brian Cashman finagles the Yankees into a coldly efficient machine - something we've never known in our adult lives - let's dare to ponder one more concern: The Yankees must never become boring.

The Yankees need the Igawas and the Carl Pavanos as part of their mythology.

You win with the Russell Martins and Brett Gardners. You dream about the Brien Taylors and Drew Hensons.

Comedy or tragedy, Yu Darvish will be a great Yankee story.

And - get this, folks - so was Kei Igawa. This year, we get to see how it ends.

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