Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Last night, watching Hiroki Kuroda lead the charge across the diamond toward the Rays, it occurred to me that we may be seeing the last of another great Yankee
Posted by el duque at 10:16 AM
Along those lines, heros sometimes are made. I shall always remember Shelley Duncan with fondness, because years ago - after a miserable Tampa Ray flattened Francisco Cervelli with a cheap shot, nearly ending his career, during an exhibition game - Shelley kicked a guy in the nuts and launched a payback brawl. If Duncan ever comes to Syracuse for a baseball card convention, he's got my $10 for an autographed glossy. That's a lifetime promise.
Last night, when the benches cleared, three Yankees led the march across the infield, into the no-man's land of a brawl: Esmil Rogers, Antoan Richardson and Hiroki Kuroda.
That's right... Hiroki Kuroda. Age 39. The guy who still can't speak the language. Hiroki Kuroda, who could have every reason in the world to sit this one out. Hiroki Kuroda, the lone Yankee starting pitcher to last the entire year, while younger men crumbled and fell. Hiroki Kuroda, who the Yankees were supposed to go easy on this year, so he wouldn't be overused - but they sure threw that plan out the window - AND HE STILL SURVIVED. Hiroki Kuroda, a great Yankee, a guy on the front lines last night when a teammate had been plunked.
We may be seeing the last outings of Kuroda's great Yankee career. They say he intends to retire in Japan, not the U.S. He'll decide his future this winter. But make no mistake, we may be watching the end of a great pitcher's time in New York.
Over the next week, a lot of people will cry and go crazy over Derek Jeter's goodbyes. At some point, Kuroda will walk off the mound, perhaps for the finale, as a Yankee.
Dammit, we better notice. We better let him know we appreciated him. He led the charge last night. He led the charge all season. Hiroki Kuroda goes down as a great Yankee. Save your money for the baseball card conventions, Yankiverse. We will always want his 8x11 glossy.