I always look forward to the Pinch Hitters series. I enjoy the new voices and outside perspectives, and it doesn’t get much more outside than an Australian fan writing about global branding.
This morning, Anthony made a fine point; one I hadn’t considered. Star power matters, and if long distance fans truly are drown to superstars, then the Yankees financial approach to 2014 might limit that appeal. I have to imagine that, for young fans just developing team loyalty, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki seem like stars of another time.
But I keep coming back to one universal truth: Winning trumps everything.
The Yankees were pretty bad for more than a decade, but as soon as those late 90’s teams began winning championships, they were once again the most powerful brand in sports. CC Sabathia and Robinson Cano still bring considerable star power to this roster — the kind of star power that’s still young and cool and in its prime — and the Yankees are putting at least some faith in the idea that Slade Heathcott or Mason Williams or Tyler Austin might become a star as well. As long as the Yankees keep winning, fans will keep coming. There will still be t-shirts in schools and posters on walls, in New York and beyond.
Superstars might create championships, but championships can also create superstars.
• Alex Rodriguez’s left hip surgery went as planned. According to the Yankees, there were no complications and various reports have indicated that Rodriguez’s cartilage damage was less extensive that anticipated. That’s good news. Now comes the six-month rehab.
• Derek Jeter told reporters in Florida that he’s been cleared to begin baseball activities but won’t do so for a few more days. His walking boot is off and he’s been able to begin workouts.
• The Yankees avoided arbitration with Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan this week. They still have Dave Robertson eligible for arbitration and there’s still time to come to an agreement.
• Mark Teixeira (USA), Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic) and Francisco Cervelli (Italy) were the only Yankees named to World Baseball Classic rosters.
• The Yankees added a draft pick when Rafael Soriano signed with the Nationals. Soriano got a two-year deal with a vesting option for a third year. He’ll make more money than the qualifying offer he turned down, but a lot of the money is deferred.
• Kevin Long told the New York Post that he’s already started working with new third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who’s slightly tweaked his batting stance in an effort to bring back some past success.
• Jorge Posada told The Associated Press that he has no plans of making a comeback, but he will join the Yankees as a spring training instructor.
• The Yankees announced plans to play an exhibition game at West Point on March 30. They’ll also play an exhibition in Washington D.C. on March 29.
• The Yankees made a minor league addition, re-signing former prospect Reegie Corona to add some middle infield depth. Corona was on the 40-man roster not so long ago, but a shoulder injury derailed his career. He’s been playing winter ball in Venezuela.
• Although there was some speculation that the Yankees might make a move for Mike Morse, it was the Mariners who actually traded for him. Interestingly, the move opens the catching position and leaves the potential for us to finally see how well Jesus Montero might handle that position full-time.
• Last night, a friend from back home texted me with the news that Stan Musial had passed away. When I was a kid, Musial was a real-life folk hero. The statistics and MVP awards were from a long gone era, but every once in a while, Stan would wear a red blazer, play a little harmonica and become one of us; a midwestern giant with small-town sensibilities and fairy tale charm. Outside of Busch Stadium, there’s a Musial statue that includes the words of commissioner Ford Frick: “Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.” For a kid growing up on a southeast Missouri farm — for myself, for my friends, for my father and his father — those words were perfectly true. Stan was The Man. He really was.
Associated Press photo