When we signed Tex in the winter of 2008-09, he had just concluded a 33 HR, 121 RBI, .308, Gold Glove season. Guy belonged in the Avengers. O's fans still boo him for signing with New York. He made $175 million, not counting endorsements, and hit the walk-off HR to beat Minnesota in the 2009 playoffs. Nice ride.
Out of those eight seasons, three were great, two were so-so, and three were Rob Schneider movies. Basically, Tex never recovered from the over-shift. He whacked liners right at people, and he never learned to bunt. Last night, he went two for four, raising his average to .202, which is what Mike Pence would hit. Nevertheless, he played with a joyous smile, knowing that he'll escape the catcalls. I predict he'll be a popular announcer, having already hosted an online comedy series, called "Foul Territory," when he channels a frustrated Chris Farley. Here's one with Jeter.
But blink - and life goes on. Last night in Scranton, Tyler Austin didn't play. (Not sure why; Ike Davis - the lost cause who recently replaced another lost cause, Nick Swisher, in the Railriders' lineup - hit two home runs. Good for Ike.) But Austin is our hope at 1B. He is only 24, but one of those prospects you've heard about for so long that you think he's 40. He was hot beans four years ago, after hitting .322 with 17 HRs at four levels. The Yankees put him on the 40-man. Then he hurt his wrist - (just like Tex, eh?) - and floundered for three seasons, stuck in Trenton with Chris Christie.
Last year, after Austin struggled at Scranton (.235) and was demoted, bloggers started lumping him in with Cito Culver and Dante Bichette Jr. - farm fodder. Austin started this season in Trenton - didn't do much - but was promoted to Scranton due to injuries. There, something happened. He's hitting .319 with 13 HRs at Scranton (17 for the year, tied for the farm system lead). He has revived himself the old fashioned way - by producing - and Yankee fans wonder if he's real or Memorex? Next spring, unless Cashman signs a bum, the competition at 1B will be between two glow-in-the-dark mysteries - Tyler Austin and Greg Bird.
We won't know about Bird until spring. But we have two months left to learn if Austin can hold his liquor. I figured that he'd get the call soon and then - yesterday - Tex announced his impending retirement.
Let's face it: Girardi must give Tex his rightful curtain calls. The Yankees can't do to Tex whatever it is they're doing with A-Rod. They can't send him to the Upside-Down world and pretend he's in Tahiti. But Tyler Austin needs a shot, and Tex must come to grips with the notion that life goes on, with or without him. Blink, and it's 2022. And unless the Yankees find their own Teixeira, we will still not have a championship. Let's see what this guy can do. I'm running out of blinks.