Tuesday, March 9, 2021

As a Yankee, it's now or never for Giancarlo Stanton

Holy crap, two weeks into spring, and - get this - NOBODY HURT! 

Not Judge, not Hicks, not even Giancarlo! Have we missed something? (Am I jinxing somebody?) Nobody's pulled up lame. Nobody's been carted off. There oughta be a sign outside Steinbrenner Field: 


Call OSHA! Alert the media! For 2021 Yankee Iron Man, I hereby nominate Giancarlo Stanton. 

Thus far... Look ma, no cavities! He's played three games, gone 2-7 with two doubles, three fans and a walk. He's played DH, with talk of an outfield cameo. He looks happy, healthy, smiling - aware of his indestructible frame and high expectations. He knows the deal: Go big... or go home. 

At age 31, Stanton draws as much attention for his contract as his home runs. He'll be on the Yankee dime until 2028, when he's 38. They'll pay him $30 million per season, a payroll-crushing figure, and every winter, when free agents come on the market, they'll point to him and say, "He's why we can't afford anybody."

That leaves 2021 as his fulcrum point. He either puts up a big season or the drums will beat for "GIANEXIT." (Hey, anybody notice how "-exit" - as in Brexit - has replaced "-gate" - as in Watergate ?) He needs to play 120 games, drive in 100 runs and goose the Yankees to a world series. If he fails, the outlook only worsens for age 32. Once he hits the  mid-30s, and the belly expands, the odds darken further. 

Last spring, right about now, as the assembled Gammonites were marveling about Stanton's physique, he strained his right calf in a drill. It would make him miss opening day. Some minor grousing occurred, but when the season was delayed by Covid, all was forgotten. So, what happened next? As he trained for the July opener, he strained his left hamstring. Out for five weeks. The grouses grew.

Last year, Stanton played 23 games, coming to bat 94 times. He hit .250 with 4 HRs. By the time he returned - days before the playoffs - he was lucky that the fans were cardboard: Paper people cannot boo. 

If he goes down this year, God help him. 

Stanton's last great season came in 2017, when he hit 59 home runs and won the MVP. It was sort of weird, that MVP award, because Miami finished dead last. You had to wonder about an MVP whose team comes in last, and who gets dealt the following winter. It's like buying a brand new Buick with a funny rattle, which the salesman says is nothing. But why the $500 price tag?

That said, no measure of Stanton is complete without mentioning the horrific September 2014 beaning by Milwaukee's Mike Fiers (the pitcher who later blew the whistle on Houston's cheating.) Stanton took a fastball to the head. He suffered multiple fractures, his face a Picasso. History is filled with promising hitters who never recovered from such trauma. Tony C comes to mind. Don Zimmer spent two weeks in a coma. Mickey Cochran never suited up again. A guy named Ray Chapman fucking died. Stanton came back. As we whine and bellyache, let's never forget this: Stanton came back. 

So, does he have another one in him? 

Supposedly, he and  fellow china doll Aaron Judge turned to yoga this winter, hoping to eliminating the tweaks. It's fun to believe. But make no mistake: If Stanton goes down again, his image in NYC will be hopelessly tarnished. It's now or never. If I'm jinxing him, sorry. But there's no other way to put it.


JM said...

May this serve as a wakeup call to the Porcelain Giant. Which wouldn't be a bad name for a children's book, mostly pictures, large format so you feel the breeze when you fan the pages.

The story, of course, would be a cautionary tale of what happens when you get so pumped up and homer happy (hi, Marge), perhaps from some unnatural substances, that you crash and burn once you try to get off them (hi, Giambi).

The follow-up would be a book called Porcelain Giant II, about an amazingly talented kid named Aaron who, being younger, plays more than the first porcelain giant but can never stay on the field long enough to reach his original potential.

The author could go on to write a third book, Ice Cream!, about a catcher who can't catch and can't hit and wonders why everyone doesn't love him.

Anonymous said...

Duque, no need to worry about jinxing Stanton. He is a human jinx. He'll get hurt again at some point, probably sooner than later. You can almost say the same of Judge, sorry to say.

The Hammer of God

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

I vote "Never."

Anonymous said...

Zack Britton was sent for a MRI on a sore pitching elbow. That cannot be good.

Kevin said...

Britton went to the Tube for a "tweaked" elbow. Move along....

Alphonso said...

If you want to see an injury, give him that outfield cameo.
There is no sprinting after a strike out or a home run.
But chasing a fly ball?

HoraceClarke66 said...

The Porcelain Giant! I love it, JM!

Apparently, back in the 1950s, somebody dubbed Moose Skowron "The Glass Moose" for all of his injuries. Of course, The Moose played in 1,087 games in his 9 Yankee season, or just under 121 a year—and that's with Casey Stengel's constant platooning.

Giancarlo? He's averaged 66 games a year as a Yankee. But hey, let's be fair! Last year was Covid. So let's throw in, say, another 100 games that Stanton would've had, assuming a stretch of injury-free ball the likes of which he's never seen as a Yankee. That would get him up to...just under 100 games a year.

Uh, boy.