Sunday, December 23, 2012

So long, Raul... and thank you

Last January, when the Yankees signed Raul Ibanez instead of Johnny Damon for the position of third nipple, I went Wayne LaPierre on the rappelling rag doll known as Brian Cashman. I wanted Johnny - a great former Yankee - instead of a Philadelphia steak sandwich. When Raul didn't hit his weight - or hair count - in spring training, I rambled and ranted about Cashman's epic mistake. And I wasn't alone. After one exhibition game, I recall Raul facing a Gammonite siege, his slump now something like 0-25. He gazed into a forest of third chins and snow-cap pimples and noted that this was the largest group of Shakespearean talent he had ever faced. "Hooray for me," Raul deadpanned.

Under pressure, the guy never flinched. Never. And a week later, Ibanez homered on opening day against Tampa, one of the few Yankees to matter in the clutch. "Raul, so cool," John Sterling said. And the Master got that one right.

For a guy who hit .240 and went Judge Crater during the entire month of August, Raul is going to generate some incredible ovations when he returns to Yankee Stadium next year in a Mariners uniform. From my personal luxury skybox, a few steps from my refrigerator, I will stand an cheer. He deserves it.

If you ponder the sample size, it's amazing how such a flawed bit player could become such a beloved Yankee. With a catch by Nick Swisher or eyesight by a first-base umpire - that is, if the Yankees hadn't folded so abruptly and utterly - Raul could be a rare Yankee icon: The player who saved a team worth saving.

Instead, he goes into the bin with Aaron Boone, Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez - great HRs that were followed up with - well - pain . When we think of Raul, we'll remember the incredible HRs and then feel a chaser of frustration. After such gallantry, after such miracles, teams are not supposed to lose. But we sure did.

On paper, nobody can call Raul's defection to Seattle a terrible, horrible loss. The guy is 40. And he did hit .240. Those magical clutch HRs probably won't happen again. A sad truth about miracles is that they only happen unexpectedly. You can't buy them on the free agent market. I'm sort of surprised Seattle doesn't know that. 
 Well, I don't know if I've ever formally apologized to Raul Ibanez for the wintery rants about our failure to sign Johnny Damon. So here goes:

Sir, last January, I only wanted us to sign a great Yankee. I was wrong. We did.  I wish you the best in Seattle. You'll always be a fond Yankee memory. Hooray for you. And let me say this with my finger as heavy as it can be on the keyboard:



Anonymous said...

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JM said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the previous comment.

'be used as a substitute of large balaclavas,' indeed.

Raul leaves large balaclavas to fill.

BernBabyBern said...

Anonymous' comments always leave me thinking "Of course ... it's all so simple now."

I, for one, am thankful for a commenter that really gets it, no matter the topic.

Thank you, Anonymous, for your gift of clarity in an increasingly foggy world.

You are appreciated.

... oh, yeah, I almost forgot: It's a bummer about Raul.

Anonymous said...

Raul, so cool! Raul'll be seeing you!

Parson Tom said...

right on, Raul!