|Dressed as Elvises on the last road trip of 2004, left to right, it's Bubba Crosby, |
Brad Halsey,Dioneer Navarro, Scott Proctor and Andy Phillips.
Halsey was one the pinpoints of disagreement between Alphonso and myself at the close of the Millenium - which, for the Yankeees, happened in 2004, the year everything ended. I was certain that Halsey would be the next Andy Pettitte, but Alphonso pegged him as the next Brandon Claussen. Our debate raged all summer.
The Yankees drafted Halsey in 2002, as the ace lefty of the University of Texas' national championship team. Damn, he had Pettitte written all over him. In two seasons, he rose to Columbus and was killing it. That summer, he was 11-4 when the Yankees called him up. I was touting the guy for weeks, but Alphonso wanted none of it. (He was heading into his doom and gloom phase, which is now 10 years long.)
Frankly, Alphonso was right. Sort of. The Admiral's ERA that year was above 6.00. Still, he made history. He was the starting pitcher in the game against the Redsocks, when Jeter dove into the left field seats. (Later, he'd give up Barry Bonds' 714th HR.)
The following winter, the Yankees dished him off to Arizona with Dioneer Navarro and the now-cursed Javier Vazquez - deliverer of the gopher-grand slam by Johnny Damon, which officially ended the Yankee dynasty. For the three, we obtained the aging Randy Johnson, who never fit into NYC. Vazquez bumped around and returned, no better than before. Navarro has cobbled together a decent catching career, and hurts the Yankees, every chance he gets.
Halsey bounced from several teams, the 11th man on almost every staff. Alphonso wins the debate, though I'm sure that doesn't make him feel good today. The Admiral actually finished his career in the Yankee farm system, hoping for a comeback. Funny how that goes, eh? What was the line by Tooter Turtle in that Vietnam Era cartoon, (the one with secret anti-war protest:) "Twizzle, Twazzle, Twuzzle, Tome/Time for this one to come home." They always do come home.
This was when the Yankees were weaving the long sad braid of Ed Yarnells and Sam Marsoneks, the steady stream of young pitchers who would sour us on the future. Last summer, when we traded Rafael De Paula for Chase Headley, most of the fan base didn't bat an eye. Still, I prefer to believe in these guys - be it a Refsnyder or a Pirella or anybody. For every 100 pebbles, you pan one piece of gold. But damn, it's so great when you find him.
Listen: In a lot of ways, Brad Halsey was just a speck in the ocean. He shouldn't be inspiring wistful memories. But damn... 33? Jeez. That's way too soon. That's grade school kids. That's a grieving wife. That's not it's supposed to be.
In another world, somewhere out there, it's still the old Millennium, the Curse of the Bambino still lives, Brad Halsey is still pitching, and Alphonso is happily eating crow. But that ain't here, eh? Condolences to the family. Twizzle, Twazzle, Twuzzle, Tome...