Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain but death and taxes.” He sure didn’t live in today’s world. We know both in life and in baseball certain things are inevitable. Where I normally write this column, we have two small dogs who howl like fire sirens when the phone answering machine goes on. I might be sitting right by the phone for 11 hours, first working on this column, then finding ideas for future columns. It is a certainty that if I go upstairs without the phone for any reason after sitting next to it for 11 hours it will ring, the machine will go and the dogs will start their howling which can be heard in adjoining states.
Baseball has its certainties as well. Nobody would put a bet on the 1986 Red Sox to win game 7 of the World Series after Bill Buckner’s blunder in game 6. After Derek Jeter broke his ankle in game 1 of the 2012 ALCS, it was a certainty the Yankees would go down in 4 straight. I thought I was only being pessimistic at the time, but that’s what happened. In the last few years it has been a certainty that Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira would suffer a major injury and lose considerable time.
Yankees fans got all the way into August without hearing bad news from first base. Pitchers, particularly starters have dropped like flies, then risen again like the Phoenix. But fans of the Bronx Bombers held their breath.
Sure enough, the bulletin came last night that Mark Teixeira is through for the year with what an MRI revealed to be a broken leg. Before now I have written that when he gets hurt, particularly since joining the Yankees he tends to stay hurt, and it’s happened again. I can empathize. Teixeira hadn’t sent a “tex message,” as John Sterling describes one of his mighty home runs since August. On the 17th of that month when he left the field with a “bruise” on his leg. This sounds like the “pulled muscle” I suffered in my back on January 11. two sets of x-rays showed “nothing.” Finally, an MRI showed two fractures in my back-18 days after the initial onslaught of nearly immobilizing pain caused by “nothing.”
What can we hope for next year? Nobody knows. Mark Charles Teixeira isn’t as young as when he came out of Georgia Tech. He’ll be 36 next April 11, six days after I celebrate my 39th birthday for the x time. He’s clearly slowing down. He hit his 300th home run on June 30, 2011. As I write this he is six shy of 400. Most of 2012 and all of 2013 were lost seasons for him with a variety of injuries. After hitting .151 and .216 the last two seasons, this was his best in recent years, with a .255 average and 31 home runs. Knowing his past history, it is surprising to me that the ownership has again shown as little foresight as they showed by not getting more starting pitching when it was readily available. The Yankees aren’t equipped with anything like a suitable backup for Teixeira now, or a replacement for him after his contract runs out at the end of next season. They can play somebody out of position-Chase Headley or Alex Rodriguez come to mind-or use minor leaguer Greg Bird who just might be OK next year but isn’t prepared for the playoff push the Bombers were trying to make.
It appears the Bombers themselves were as brought down by the bad news as their supporters were. They were destroyed 11-5 last night in the first game of the most critical series of the year. They face the Bluejays in a doubleheader today and a game tomorrow to end the series. If they lose all four, as they did after Jeter’s injury in 2012, they’ll be playing out the string the rest of the way. I don’t know if Hank or Hal Steinbrenner see things as their father did, but George would have been infuriated by the resurgence of the Mets and the knowledge that the Flushing 9 will own the headlines from here on without an unlikely miracle from a Yankee team with neither the offense nor the pitching to pull it off. But that’s just baseball as I see it.0