FIFTY THOUSAND MOONS

Monday, February 29, 2016

Will the most interesting Yankee in 2016, by far, spend the year in Scranton?

The 2015 Yankees - generally a tired, boring team - gave us two great moments.

One was Carlos Beltran's pinch-hit, three-run HR against the Blue Jays, which snapped Toronto's 11-game win streak, restored the Yankees into first, and briefly made Beltran's three-year contract seem 1,000 pounds lighter around the neck.

The second was "the Slade Heathcott game." Heathcott - who looked good in early summer, got hurt and disappeared - homered to beat Tampa - another three-run shot - after the Yankees had been no-hit for eight innings and gone down to their last out. Gardner had signed, A-Rod hit a double, McCann was walked, and Heathcott came out of nowhere... which, for him, was business as usual.

It feels like we've waited a hundred years on Heathcott. He's only 25. He was drafted out of Texarkana High School - our number one pick - with a Josh Hamilton buzz, in part due to his torturous background. The details of his teenage upbringing - he was homeless, he was an alcoholic, he was - as the trainers would say - day-to-day - slowly came out. On the day after an excruciatingly long piece on him was published in the Charleston paper, Heathcott sparked a massive brawl with an opposing catcher. He looked too volatile to make it. Then came the injuries, one after another, often self-inflicted because he ran into a wall or dove onto his shoulder. The Yankees dropped him from the 40-man roster. We resigned him, and boom - there he was last September, hitting the HR that might be the only thing he's remembered for.

Even now, he faces an OF so crowded that it will be tough to find playing time in Scranton.

Yet there he is - still the great Yankee hope, sort of.

I don't wish ill on any Yankee player. I don't need to. If anybody thinks Gardner, Ellsbury and Beltran can last the season, they haven't watched the team. And the jury remains out on our two Aarons - Hicks and Judge - until they perform. But my secret hopes still rest on Slade Heathcott, the most interesting Yankee in the last five years. It's been a long, crazy road for the guy.

This is his year. Keep fingers crossed.

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