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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pinch hitting: John Findura

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Feb 04, 2013 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Our next Pinch Hitter is John Findura, a 37-year-old who supervises the Writing Center at Bergen Community College in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

“On my parent’s first date, my mother was late because she was watching a Yankee game,” John wrote. “I first approached my wife because she was wearing a Yankees sweatshirt. Speaking of my wife, she’s still upset that I didn’t cry at our wedding but openly wept upon shaking Don Mattingly’s hand at the Yogi Berra museum.”

For his post, this lifelong Yankees fan wrote about Mattingly and the appreciation of fading icons.

Right off the bat we all knew it was gone. I followed it as it passed over my head and landed a few rows behind me in the right field bleachers of old Yankee Stadium. It was Don Mattingly’s final home run, and for most it was overshadowed sometime in the 44th inning when Jim Leyritz hit an opposite field walk-off to beat the Mariners in Donnie’s first postseason series. Of course the Yanks would lose the series to Seattle, and the next year, that Jeter kid would come into the picture. But that game was incredibly important for me because it was the last time I saw Donnie Baseball play in person, and I can’t believe it’s been nearly 20 years.

Most discussions this offseason have been about the luxury tax or Jeter’s ankle or Mo’s arm or something about A-Rod apparently drinking the blood of orphaned refugees while he participated in human trafficking (I in no way condone human trafficking). Of course I think about all of that, but I’m much more interested in just watching them play and appreciating them. A lot of fans came of age during the great Dynasty of the 90s, but when I turned 10, Mattingly was in the middle of his MVP season and playing for a Yankees team that never seemed to win.

I missed out on DiMaggio and Mantle and Munson, but I clung onto Mattingly harder than his mustache clung to his lip. I wasn’t letting go. A lot of younger fans don’t remember those lean years of the late 80s when having Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Willie Randolph and Alvaro Espinoza meant nothing. Future Hall of Fame votes don’t equate to wins on the field. For many years, the only bright spot we had was Donnie – an underdog story, someone who always had a dirty uniform and a perfect mustache.

The thing is, I want to appreciate what we have. I remember reading my yearbook at the stadium with the names and pictures of the up-and-comers: Hensley Meulens, Orestes Destrade, Mike Blowers, Wayne Tolleson. When we traded Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps I was so distraught I missed a day of school. Over Jay Buhner.

I don’t know if fans today can appreciate the unbridled thrill when we acquired Jesse Barfield or Danny Tartabull. In ’89 we were hoping Barfield could carry us on his back – or at least Steve Balboni would, because I don’t even think we fielded a pitching staff that year. Those were our great hopes. I don’t think anyone expected us to win the series that year, and if they did, they were delusional; we were just excited at the prospect of winning a few games. Lee Guetterman would save us! If you want to argue over Ivan Nova’s effectiveness, please remember our ace Andy Hawkins.

Now we get caught up in so many different aspects of the game, and we expect to win every year. While I love winning the Series (yes I said “I” as though I were part of the team – I have willed many a ball over the fence and given the evil eye to most of the population of Boston), what I love is to watch good baseball. Now that Jeter and Mo and Andy are nearing the end of their careers, I love watching them even more because I know — just like with Donnie — they don’t last forever. I’m sure there’s some kid down in A ball who will come up and replace them and continue our winning ways (please, Gary Sanchez, please!), but for now I just want to watch some of the best ball players ever playing in their pinstripes while they can still play.

The lesson of Mattingly is that you don’t need to be a Hall of Famer or a World Series champion to enthrall the fans. You need to be a good baseball player and play hard. For those who want Cano traded because of the luxury tax situation, I say relax. Freeing up some money might be necessary, but I’d rather watch another year of Cano than be under the luxury tax threshold and watch Lenn Sakata try and turn a double play. Don’t like Joba? Hmm, he’s much more fun to watch than Cecilio Guante giving up 430-foot fly balls. Worried Brett Gardner doesn’t get on base as much as he should? Two words: Claudell Washington.

The frightening part? I loved watching Balboni and Jack Clark and Charles Hudson and even Alvaro Espinoza, because baseball is fun and the Yankees are the Yankees. Regardless of how the season plays out or how many human sacrifices A-Rod has made (at last count: approximately 34), I’m still watching every game and appreciating these guys who wear the pinstripes.

Associated Press photo

 
 

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46 Responses to “Pinch hitting: John Findura”

  1. PacoDooley February 4th, 2013 at 9:11 am

    I became a Yankees fan when they were winning championships in the 1970s, but remained a fan through the ‘Balboni’ era. I became a much more obsessive fan in the years that preceded their dynasty (the end of the Mattingly years) and it has been a lot more fun to watch this team when it is always able to win each year. I don’t want to go back to the Balboni era, though I think that the ‘season without a championship is a failure’ mentality is getting old and people need to think long term and accept some losing to establish a longer string of real dominance…

  2. Bronx Jeers February 4th, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Great post. After all the stats & records, the championships & early exits, wins & losses; the game at its simplest level is about players.

    And in that respect we’re in for a special season.

  3. tomingeorgia February 4th, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Nice job, John. Nothing is better than a baseball game under the summer sun. Let’s get on with it!

  4. Shame Spencer February 4th, 2013 at 9:24 am

    The lesson of Mattingly is that you don’t need to be a Hall of Famer or a World Series champion to enthrall the fans. You need to be a good baseball player and play hard. For those who want Cano traded because of the luxury tax situation, I say relax. Freeing up some money might be necessary, but I’d rather watch another year of Cano than be under the luxury tax threshold and watch Lenn Sakata try and turn a double play.

    ———————————————-

    I just wanna take this moment to go on record and say that my favorite season ever was 2001. A year we lost in the most brutal way imaginable.

    Regarding Cano… tell that to the new bosses! There’s not a fan in all of the fandom that wants to move Cano because we’re up in arms about the cost… it’s all on the FO.

  5. Tackelberry February 4th, 2013 at 9:25 am

    One of the best Super Bowls ever!. Now, on to baseball!!!!!!

  6. Shame Spencer February 4th, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Tackelberry February 4th, 2013 at 9:25 am

    One of the best Super Bowls ever!. Now, on to baseball!!!!!!

    ———————

    It was definitely an exciting game.. I don’t think I’ve ever seen worse defensive performances from both teams!!

    The play calling for the Niners in that last sequence might go down as one of the worst in Super Bowl history.

  7. PacoDooley February 4th, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Shame Spencer February 4th, 2013 at 9:24 am
    I just wanna take this moment to go on record and say that my favorite season ever was 2001. A year we lost in the most brutal way imaginable.
    ——————————

    Please don’t tell me that he Yankees lost the 2001 WS. I missed the end of game 7 (was in Mexico and they stopped broadcasting in the top of the 9th!), and so I ended the day assuming that the Yankees had won the WS. I still deny the possibility that Arizona came back to win that game. I refuse to believe it, so as far as I recall the Yankees won the 2001 title…

  8. pat February 4th, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I posted the article about Tex the other day while running out the door and without having time to get into why realism may be good but his comments bothered me.

    Shortly after Tex signed with the Yankees he said all the PC things about why he chose NY but also said the company in the clubhouse would allow him to blend in and not have his salary stand out.

    When Tex parted ways with Boras, he said all the PC things about relationships running their course but also made a comment about now that the contract situation is taken care of I don’t want to be thought of as a Boras client.

    His comments in the article this weekend brought back those thoughts and made me think of Tex as that person you know who is fun to be around but always heads to the restroom when the check comes for dinner hoping someone else will get it. That person gets annoying after awhile.

  9. J. Alfred Prufrock February 4th, 2013 at 9:34 am

    John,

    Nicely written piece.

    Mattingly was my Dad’s favorite ballplayer in that era. We had a team that could have been a contender and won a title or two, had we done two things: kept McGee and kept Righetti in the rotation.

    Can you imagine a Winfield-McGee-Henderson OF?

    And I am aligned with this sentiment of yours:

    “The lesson of Mattingly is that you don’t need to be a Hall of Famer or a World Series champion to enthrall the fans.”

    That’s why I am tired of watching our young talent exit, or not get a chance because they only “trust” veterans and because, according to them, you don’t “have the luxury” of development at the ML level when you’re a Yankee.

    Fans get excited to watch young “Mattinglys” and “Canos” come of age in the pinstripes, and will watch their evolutions with great interest and emotional investment, whether the team is in serious contention or not.

    The idea is, you watch the seed push up from the roots, sprout leaves and branches and grow, and that allows the baseball fan imagination to roam over future seasons, regarding both individual accomplishments and team ones.

    Your young players may be the Mattinglys, Jeters and Canos of tomorrow.

    There’s great irony in the idea that we should rest satisfied as fans because we “still have Jeter and Mo to watch.”

    Of course, we would not have that, nor the pleasure of watching them grow up together and become champions, had Gene Michael not fought for keeping those two – as well as Bernie – when George wanted “now” talent for them and wasn’t interest in waiting out their growing pains.

  10. trisha - true pinstriped blue February 4th, 2013 at 9:34 am

    “Regardless of how the season plays out or how many human sacrifices A-Rod has made (at last count: approximately 34), I’m still watching every game and appreciating these guys who wear the pinstripes.”

    John, with you all the way! If you can take a macro perspective in terms of looking at the season and a micro perspective in terms of looking at the positives in any given game, you have the formula for feeling like the luckiest fan in the world. The Yankees always have something great to offer. This season will be no different.

  11. J. Alfred Prufrock February 4th, 2013 at 9:37 am

    *wasn’t interested

  12. Out Pitch February 4th, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Perfectly timed article to introduce a season of lowered expectations.

  13. Ys Guy February 4th, 2013 at 9:44 am

    it was an exciting super bowl for sure, certainly not a well played or coached super bowl though.

    i like the article. someone with some appreciation of a ballgame and a ballplayer! well done!

    leave it to JAP to start breaking down the teams of the late 80′s and start lecturing on what the FO did wrong.

  14. 86w183 February 4th, 2013 at 9:52 am

    To me a season without a post-season berth is a failure. Winning it all is too special and too difficult to serve as a be-all end-all to me.

    It’s pretty clear the Yankees’ youth will get their collective opportunity in 2014. It wouldn’t be a shock if the Yanks had a rookie platoon in RF (Austin/Almonte?). Romine, Adams and maybe Sanchez could be in the picture along with pitchers Pineda, Phelps, Betances/Banuelos, Marshall and Montgomery are all possibilities.

    Once the Yanks get thru that season they will have a ton of cash to spend and will have re-set their luxury tax status, proving much more financial flexibility going forward.

  15. smartchoices February 4th, 2013 at 9:55 am

    “Perfectly timed article to introduce a season of lowered expectations.”

    I enjoyed the pinch hit post, but there’s something about settling for or appreciating mediocrity that doesn’t feel right to me.

    That said, I am excited for ST and will of course be rooting the team on this season.

  16. Shame Spencer February 4th, 2013 at 9:57 am

    pat – I forgot about some of that, great point!! The Yanks have put him in a tougher spot ;)

    People were mad at me for suggesting moving Tex.. but I will continue to explore the possibilities!!

  17. J. Alfred Prufrock February 4th, 2013 at 9:58 am

    What I really want to know is, was Ray Lewis’ “enhancement advantage” what kept the ‘niners from surmounting the final 3-point deficit?

    Tainted Ravens Super Bowl championship.

  18. J. Alfred Prufrock February 4th, 2013 at 10:00 am

    leave it to JAP to start breaking down the teams of the late 80?s and start lecturing on what the FO did wrong.
    ///

    Well, thanks for the compliment, but I’d say any conscious fan had a problem with McGee for Sykes.

  19. smartchoices February 4th, 2013 at 10:02 am

    86w,

    There’s a fair amount of doom and gloom about the 2014 team, but I’m prety excited about the youth invasion. The influx of energy and athleticism will be a good thing. I only wish they were ready now.

    As to ‘financial flexibility going forward’, Hal has indicated the lowered budget will continue beyond 2014. The free spending days are over. I’m withholding judgement to see if they can gear up the farm system to actually make it work.

  20. Mike Ri February 4th, 2013 at 10:02 am

    What I really want to know is, was Ray Lewis? ?enhancement advantage? what kept the ?niners from surmounting the final 3-point deficit?

    —————

    .. .What kept the niners from surmounting the final 3 point deficit was the horrible play calling . ..not Ray Lewis

  21. PacoDooley February 4th, 2013 at 10:03 am

    I would like to see a strategy that is based on the following tenets:

    1) invest in scouting and be very aggressive with adding to the talent pool (harder now that there are IFA and draft caps)

    2) go big after YOUNG free agents, but avoid spending large amounts on older FAs (so by all means, spend a heap if Andrus or Stanton become FAs at their young ages, but do not spend on players like A-Rod or Swisher)

    3) be willing to overspend (a little) on your own free agents to build team character – for example, it was fine to overpay Jeter and Posada (and they should pay Cano, unless he wants a Pujols like deal)

    4) be willing to trade for young superstar talent under control (so trade the farm for a guy like Stanton, but not for Shields or Vasquez)

    5) continue to fill holes with ageing talent on short term deals – they are undervalued overall

  22. J. Alfred Prufrock February 4th, 2013 at 10:04 am

    I enjoyed the pinch hit post, but there’s something about settling for or appreciating mediocrity that doesn’t feel right to me.
    ///

    The problem is, you can’t trumpet getting to see Jeter and Mo and also sanction management’s blindly accepted truism that young players “don’t have the luxury” of developing.

    Like I said, Gene Michael doesn’t talk George off the ledge on Jeter-Mo-Bernie, there’s no twilight romance in the Bronx.

  23. J. Alfred Prufrock February 4th, 2013 at 10:05 am

    .What kept the niners from surmounting the final 3 point deficit was the horrible play calling . ..not Ray Lewis
    ///

    Just a little a.m. fun with irony, Mike.

  24. Tackelberry February 4th, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Please don’t tell me that he Yankees lost the 2001 WS. I missed the end of game 7 (was in Mexico and they stopped broadcasting in the top of the 9th!), and so I ended the day assuming that the Yankees had won the WS. I still deny the possibility that Arizona came back to win that game. I refuse to believe it, so as far as I recall the Yankees won the 2001 title…

    _________________________________________________

    Losing that WS hurt more than any other, including blowing the 2004 ALCS to the Red Sox. That one bothered me more becuase of what it would have meant for the city of NY after the tragedy of 9/11 to bring a championship home that year. Also becuase of how they won games 4 and 5 in the Bronx and because I wanted to see Paul O’Neill, my favorite Yankee on those teams, retire a World Champion.

  25. Mike Ri February 4th, 2013 at 10:06 am

    .What kept the niners from surmounting the final 3 point deficit was the horrible play calling . ..not Ray Lewis
    ///

    Just a little a.m. fun with irony, Mike.

    —–
    lol gotcha !

  26. PacoDooley February 4th, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I should say, my goal as a GM would be similar to what I think Cashman is now wanting to do – combine the St Louis or Texas ability to collect and develop talent with the willingness to spend big when needed. That combination could cement success – think of Tampa with money (but fewer top draft picks to boost their talent pool!). So don’t say you will never pay $30M a year for a player – just don’t pay that for a mid 30s A-Rod, but do pay it for a 26 year old Harper

  27. Tackelberry February 4th, 2013 at 10:07 am

    What kept the niners from surmounting the final 3 point deficit was the horrible play calling . ..not Ray Lewis
    ________________________________

    True. I felt that at least on 1st down, Kaperneick could have tried a naked bootleg or a draw play to Gore. Maybe on 2nd down as well.

  28. Tackelberry February 4th, 2013 at 10:08 am

    What the Yanks do next year could very well hinge on what they decide to do with Cano. If they don’t pony up the money and let him walk, that opens up alot of possibilities where they can spend their money.

  29. J. Alfred Prufrock February 4th, 2013 at 10:14 am

    The worst loss, still, for me is ’81.

    We had no business blowing that lead.

    I can still see Jello Man LaSlobba jiggling with joy. :mad:

  30. Against All Odds February 4th, 2013 at 10:26 am

    (As an aside, can less-then-effective receivers and running backs drag down a QB who is amazing, or is it the QB who makes the others shine?
    For example, has Brady been more-than-fortunate to play with some of the offensive players he’s had on his team, or has he made them look maybe better than they are?

    ——————–

    Any QB needs weapons when it comes to the offensive side of the football. There are QBs that raise the talent of the team such as Manning. I believe Brady is one of those players. Their SB teams weren’t unstoppable offensively. Guys like Welker, Lloyd, and the TE two headed monster weren’t on those teams.

    In the first half of Brady’s career he didn’t have an elite explosive offense. When they compared Brady to Manning back then it was Manning has all the numbers. It wasn’t until the 18-1 season that his numbers took off due in large part to Moss and Welker. And since then thr Pats have don

  31. Clarkie23 February 4th, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Great article. I was also at Mattinglys final game at Yankee Stadium when he hit that homer. I’m a diehard Mattingly fan bc of the way he played the game and what he meant to Yankee fans. I was fortunate enough to meet him this past November. A true class act and a hall of famer in my mind.

  32. Ys Guy February 4th, 2013 at 10:35 am

    jim harbaugh blew it with that first down run in the last series. it looked to me like he was worrying about leaving baltimore too much time on the clock and called the run which didnt really have any chance of scoring, just to keep the clock running.

    then they took 3 shots at the end zone and lost.

    bad stretegy.

  33. Jerkface February 4th, 2013 at 10:38 am

    It was funny watching Ray Lewis fail on every single play he was involved in.

  34. 4TrainNorth February 4th, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Just lol’d at “Lee Guetterman.” Great stuff.

  35. yanks61 February 4th, 2013 at 10:43 am

    86w183 February 4th, 2013 at 9:52 am

    I feel exactly the way you stated it in that post. And I hope that’s the way it plays out. Everyone will need a little patience, but I think 2015 will open with a lot of energy in the kids and some pretty good FA signings.

    We just have to hope that everybody isn’t locked up! As was pointed out the other day, things are looking a lot like pre-FA days the way teams are holding onto their youngsters. Personally I wouldn’t mind one bit going back to the 50′s if the Yanks could have the Kansas City A’s farm team once again!

  36. Stoneburner - The Return of Wax February 4th, 2013 at 10:48 am

    That’s why I am tired of watching our young talent exit, or not get a chance because they only “trust” veterans and because, according to them, you don’t “have the luxury” of development at the ML level when you’re a Yankee.

    *****

    No – you just do not like watching the young talent YOU like be traded – the Yankees allowed for young talent to come in – from Cano and Wang – to Hughes and Gardner and Robertson and Nova and now Phelps – you are more upset that players YOU thought would be here have been traded – mainly Melky and Montero – - – -the Yankees are choosing young talent – they are just not the young talent the snobs and elites identified as the ones to keep – I am super glad that Nik Turley and Matt Tracy will probably have more of a future than your darling little pick to clicks as these players the snobs and elities ignored because they were not on the top 100 pundit lists – - – -

    And the Yankees of the ’80s had far more problems than Righetti in the pen and Willie going to the Cardinals – to say nothing of the Drabecks and Rijos and McGriffs dealt away on the farm – - – -smh – - – -and people crticize this current Yankees regime and glorify George now forgetting how bad it was back then and how the Yankees crowd cheered when it was announced he was banned – - – -

    This is Stoneburner, reporting from Ceti Alpha V, with the Wax Poetic minute – - – -

  37. Chip February 4th, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Jerkface February 4th, 2013 at 10:38 am

    It was funny watching Ray Lewis fail on every single play he was involved in.
    ——————-

    I think he’s contemplating putting off retirement for another year to take another stab at a better season.

    Seriously though – have you ever seen someone mug for the camera more with all the fake crying and nonsense?

  38. Against All Odds February 4th, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Seriously though – have you ever seen someone mug for the camera more with all the fake crying and nonsense?

    —————————–

    Yes there have been many ppl over the yrs.

  39. Chip February 4th, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Incidentally, the trade that I proposed wasn’t my idea. It was brought up on Sirius yesterday; part of a discussion about how the Yankees need to change their mindset and included letting Cashman and co walk as they’re not the right group to retool this team under its current financial constraints.

  40. pat February 4th, 2013 at 10:59 am

    BASEBALL!!!!!

    eboland11 Standing outside OF fence, that’s Jeter in distance stretching before taking some grounders pic.twitter.com/NPhg2zMu

  41. Mike_Boston February 4th, 2013 at 11:00 am

    All I have to say is thank you to the DVR because I didn’t have to watch a second of ray lewis’s garbage or any of the nonsense during the blackout, hell I even cruised right through the commercials which were supposed to be so good. Both coaches are abhorrent blowhards. The only redeeming quality of that game was the game itself, who would have known!;-)

  42. austinmac February 4th, 2013 at 11:29 am

    It isn’t much, but at this point I will take news of stretching on the field, ground balls and the like. It has been a long off-season.

  43. DONNYBROOK February 4th, 2013 at 11:32 am

    - MONDAY MORNING SUPER BOWL MUSINGS -

    (1) 49ers got robbed.

    (2) NFL has gone NBA. Zebra’s are Now gonna swallow whistles, and pocket flags the final 2.00

    (3) Nantz and Simms were Horrible – Extended periods of “dead air”, and I’m Not including the
    “black-out” segment. Also, neither one of them knew what the Safety Rule\Free Kick entailed.

    (4) Commercials – A Waste. And that Go-Daddy Suck-Face Spot had my kids looking for a trash
    can to heave in.

  44. Jerkface February 4th, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Keith Law ranks the Yankee farm system 10th.

  45. Ys Guy February 4th, 2013 at 11:44 am

    dvr is the only way to go with the nfl, since the stoppages are so constant and easy to predict and time.

    i watched every play and not one second of halftime or commercials, skipped the entire blackout and saw the whole thing in about an hour and a half.

    thats the way to watch football.

  46. AAA February 4th, 2013 at 11:50 am

    (1) 49ers got robbed.

    ==========================

    Bullsh*t! At least no more so than the Falcons were when a similar episode occured late in the 4th of the NFC title game.

    (3) Nantz and Simms were Horrible – Extended periods of “dead air”, and I’m Not including the
    “black-out” segment. Also, neither one of them knew what the Safety Rule\Free Kick entailed.

    (4) Commercials – A Waste. And that Go-Daddy Suck-Face Spot had my kids looking for a trash
    can to heave in.

    =================================

    Both true. Simms is the worst. Just horrible.


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