Wednesday, February 13, 2013

YCN: Yankees Report to Camp After A-Rodiculous Off-Season

My latest for Yahoo:

The Yankees' pitchers and catchers reported to Tampa, Florida Tuesday morning for the beginning of this year's Spring Training. Nothing seemed to out of the ordinary, but that will change once the position players report to camp by February 20 (excluding those taking part in the World Baseball Classic).

The current team will look a little different from the group that took the field the past few years and there will be players in camp that one would never expect to see in a Yankees uniform. It's the result of an odd winter-hot stove season.

Things actually started to look and feel very different before the 2012 season was over. The Yankees won the AL East, but barely squeaked past the Baltimore Orioles in the division series. Neither team hit, which was a sign of things to come when the Yankees faced the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. The Tigers knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs for the second straight season, taking all four games in an embarrassing sweep in which the Yankees hit .157 as a team.1

Joe Girardi pulled the trigger on the first big shake up in the Bronx when he sent Raul Ibanez up to pinch-hit for the slumping (what an understatement!) Alex Rodriguez in Game 3 of the division series. It paid off when Raul Ibanez hit a game tying home run and later won the game in extra innings with another Bronx Blast. Everyone was happy, A-Rod said all the right things, etc. Then Girardi pinch-hit for A-Rod again in Game 4 and sat him in Game 5. Suddenly things were not so peaceful.

To compound matters, Rodriguez spent some of his time in the dugout flirting with a woman behind the Yankees bench. The networks and local papers blew it out of proportion as though no player had done something like that before. But then again this was A-Rod, who might as well change his name to Lightning-Rod at this point.

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