Nope, sir... not A-Rod or Jeet. Not CC or Robbie.
Try Hughes and Nova, Rapada and Eppley. Think Dewayne Wise. And what do they all have in common?
They've been on the cusp of being demoted to baseball's biggest hellhole, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees -- the Traveling Wilkes Barres - who haven't set a footprint into the mudflats of Moosic all year.
Their home is a bus that putters along the New York State Thruway, the most hopeless and uninspiring stretch of concrete this side of the Attica wall. They pee in Thruway rest stops and dine on the Sbarro foodlike products that make airports so full of sweaty passengers. They sleep in cloverleaf exit Ramadas, or Best Westerns, where the continental breakfast buffets give us all cause to never leave home.
Living hell. That's what they know. Living. Hell.
Did you notice how Frankie Cervelli took two months to get over his demotion? Or that Eduardo Nunez promptly jammed a tootie and still hasn't returned? Remember infielder Bill Hall, who we dropped in late March? He was willing to accept a minor league assignment. But not that one. He didn't want to be stuck between Batavia and a hard place.
So close to The Show... and so stuck in the snow.
This is good. This is how we want our marginals - knowing it's a lonnnng drop to the Montezuma Rest Stop near Weedsport. We want Clay Rapada and Dewayne Wise to know the difference between NYC and CNY.
Nine in a row. The stars have been the Wises and Rapadas, the Epplers and Stewarts - those who stand a stutter-step away from Thruway hell, the hungriest players in baseball. Maybe Scranton was too comfortable. Is there a stretch of highway more godforsaken than the Thomas E. Dewey? If so, let's find it. Next year... the North Dakota Yankees.