Across the Yankiverse, yesterday's exhibition no-hitter has fostered mass jubilation and, in some cases, premature ejaculation. Cryptically, Old Man Girardi yesterday told the Gray Lady - quoting now - "Obviously, it means more if it's during the regular season." Hm-mm. What is he getting at? Does Girardi know something? Why is he tossing ice water on one of the great exhibition victories of the Hicks-Refsnyder era?
This got me to thinking. Somewhere, I recalled a similar Yankee spring training no-hitter from a few years ago. It's that or a mushroom flashback. I went into the team's news archives - got sidetracked and never found it. But while perusing the stacks, I realized that the real excitement of the '17 Yankee Spring Team of Exhibition Destiny (TM) is not what has happened... but what has NOT happened:
Note: Last time we mentioned injuries at IT IS HIGH, Tyler Austin went down the very next day with a broken hindpaw. Therefore, before continuing, I wish to hereby address the vengeful, overpaid juju gods of the Yankee astral deep state: Listenup, assholes, just because somebody mentions the absence of injuries does NOT mean you have to immediately crush someone's gonad, just to show you're on the job. Show a little professionalism, juju gods, or Trump will cut your funding, and don't expect help from us. We'll have moved on to become an Irritable Bowel Syndrome Lady blog, and you can spend your next 10 years tweaking runs of diarrhea.
That said, I wish to thank our fine, beloved middle management faeries of fate for what DIDN'T happen two weeks ago: The near outfield collision between clownish Clint Frazier and newly minted CF gazelle Dustin Fowler, which surely took place in a universe not far from here. We came so close - I mean, a millisecond - to a full-scale mashup calamity - two young outfielders crashing into each other, broken bones, lost for the season, maybe forever - and yet NOTHING HAPPENED. Whew.
But while searching for that spring no-hitter - anybody else remember it? - I found that last year on March 19, 2016, a CT scan on Jacoby Ellsbury's banged-up wrist came back negative. At the time, this news comforted us, suggesting Big Jake would recover for opening day. I know it's dangerous around here to say anything positive about Ellsbury, but considering his 2016, it's worth wondering if he ever really recovered. You cannot underestimate the impact of dings on someone who has always been considered - and harshly criticized for it in Boston - a china doll. Ellsbury had one sterling moment in 2016 - he stole home on a play that mystified Brett Gardner. But last year, right about now, when hope similarly reigned supreme, the bruises started to mount.
While we're in the 2016 Wayback, let's note that Brett Gardner didn't swing a bat until around now, mid-March. Gardy was recovering from a bone bruise suffered in the Wild Card game of 2015. Like Ellsbury, he turned out to be a shadow of himself last season. Did the tweaks and twizzles of spring 2016 foreshadow the wretched year that was to come? And if so, it's right about now that this year's team is most vulnerable.
Of course, we can't mention last year's hurt locker without noting Bryan Mitchell's stubbed left big toe on March 30, 2016, hours being told he'd made the opening day roster. What a rotten omen! Seriously, why didn't we just spare ourselves the crapola and transition into a Taylor Swift fan blog right then? We would have saved ourselves so much pain, and we'd still be giddy over Tay-Tay's dissing of Katy Perry. Such a wasted opportunity.
Other signs from last year: A-Rod homered in his first game on March 3... and never again all spring. He went 12 for 49 (.245) in the Grapefruit League and then carried his newfound mediocrity right into the regular season. A-Rod sucked so badly that he was benched by mid-April, right around the time the Yankees signed Nick Swisher to DH in Scranton. Looking back, what incredible warning signs. And yet...
And yet, we still drank the Kool-Aid. Right around now last year, the MLB.com website, in a piece extolling the Yankee season ahead, troweled out this amazing dollop of slush: "Not only have the core guys -- CC Sabathia is the exception -- pitched well, but suddenly, there's depth. Tanaka, Eovaldi, Pineda and Luis Severino have a combined 2.25 ERA this spring." The writer went on to blather about how solid Aaron Hicks looked. I'm not linking to the story. It just hurts too much.
Sorry to be such a downer. It's those words from Old Man Girardi: It means more if it's in the regular season. What could he possibly mean?