Saturday, August 30, 2014

Could Ellsbury's ankle be the 2014 equivalent of Gardner's 2013 ribs?

The poet Robert Frost, a man who pondered fences even more than Bobby Abreu, once famously asked whether the world will end in fire... or in ice?

He was, of course, writing metaphorically about the 2014 Yankees.

Will we go out swinging hot bats... or sitting in the clubhouse, pressing ice to a swollen elbow or knee?

In recent years, one regular certainty about the Yankees has been the Injury Specter, who is always lurking outside the door or behind the team bus. It seems that whenever we reach full stride, someone reaches for his strained hamstring. It's the mark of old, veteran teams. It's the mark of players who wear down after 140 games, or of pitchers who assume a new consciousness after 140 innings.

Last Sept. 12, all my remaining hopes for the 2013 Yankees died. That night, our best clutch hitter, Brett Gardner, stepped up to the plate against Baltimore. He took a swing and grimaced, then walked gingerly to the dugout. He strained the muscles around his ribs, and he never batted again in the season. Losing him was our final kick in the side.

Well, last night, we might have lost Jacoby Ellsbury, who did something to his ankle on a play at the plate in the ninth. He limped after the game, and he might need an MRI, and if there's anything Yankee fans fear more than bum ankles, it MRIs, which always seem to show something nasty.

We all know what it would mean to lose Ellsbury right now. It would mean losing our best hitter and replacing him with Zelous Wheeler. It would be like moving from an exalted and pretentious high-brow Robert Frost anecdotal lead to a grotesque finale, based on junk TV culture. That's something you'll never see here.

Nope. The 2014 Yankees are like a starship running on impulse power after a direct hit from a Klingon vessel, thanks to those damn cloaking mechanisms, which would be outlawed, if Bud Selig were Commissioner of the Universe, rather than merely Commissioner of Baseball. (Then again, we would probably have to lose much of our front bridge staff - at least Checkov and Uhura - due to Selig's imposed salary caps, so it's probably a good thing he's not in charge.) We're holding steady, awaiting the damage report from Scotty. Wait a minute. Wasn't Robert Frost Scottish?

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