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

When benches clear, an unwritten rule says that the no-names must protect the stars. You don't want to lose your starting centerfielder in a rugby scrum on pitchers mound.

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.


Not Anonymous said...


Last year too, Kuroda singlehandedly put that No_name terrible team on his back and got them to September. Sure he faltered in the end but the team dropping out sure as hell wasn't his fault.

Insane that the No Name team was somehow better than this Big Name team btw

Ken of Brooklyn said...

Thanks for this El Duque, I was listening on the radio and his heroics this did not come across!
And ditto Non Anon, Karoda is all class, and a true Yankee warrior in every sense!!!!!!!!

John M said...

After Igawa, every Japanese player the Yankees have had has been pretty great. Even he, perhaps, should have been given another shot instead of being sentenced to minor league hell for the length of his contract. And yes, that includes Ichiro, whose biggest sin seems to be that he's not the same player he was at 30, even though he's better than a big chunk of this team and has been for the past two seasons (though often sadly misused by Pinhead Joe).

Maybe we should give up on the Caribbean and go mining in Japan.