Remember CC Sabathia’s almost no-hitter? Just kidding, of course you do. It was one of the better pitching performances the Yankees have been on the right side of in a while. Well I found this article by Joe Henderson of The Tampa Tribune which says that good old Joe Girardi would have pulled the Yankees ace after Kelly Shoppach hit no matter what, no-hitter be damned. CC’s response?
Sabathia grinned and said, “It would have been a good discussion.”
“It makes it easy now,” Sabathia said. “We would have been fighting up there on the mound.”
I, for one, would pay to see the Yankees coaches and players try to drag CC off the mound. What would the line from Vegas be for a fight like that, -400 on CC? Either way CC would have come out of the game without making a huge stink about it. He would have done it but it would not have been because no-hitters are not important or because his arm needs to be saved. No, CC would have done it because his manager told him to. He would have had something to say about it, after all his adrenaline would have been pumping and any human would want the chance to pitch a no-hitter. But, he still would have left the mound because CC understands the game of baseball. That is what makes him such a valuable commodity for the Yankees.
You may be able to talk (or have a heated discussion) with your manager but at the end of the day you are paid to follow his orders. CC gets that. And his knowledge of how the game should be played is crucial in helping younger players develop and make the most of their talents not to mention help create a clubhouse people actually want to be in.
Everyone who has been a Yankees fan since before 2009 remembers how dysfunctional the teams were during the 04-08 seasons. Whether the problems were real or just media creations, there were rifts in the clubhouse the extent of which we will never know. We want the Yankees to be more like the Cleveland Cavaliers than USSR Hockey Teams. Last year the Yankees were having fun, enjoying themselves. From 04-08 there was no outward expressions of revelry or joy. We will also never know how much it hurt the team but they simply did not look like they wanted to play together. Debates about chemistry as an important aspect of baseball will rage forever but this remains true: good chemistry can only help a team; bad chemistry can only hurt a team.
Talent counts for around 95% of baseball; you couldn’t throw me on the field or make me the manager (no matter how enthusiastic I would be) and still expect to win. What separates the teams who have reached the top is that last 5% of intangibles. Somewhere in that last 5% champions are made. CC is a champion, there is no doubt about that. He would have come out of the game if Girardi told him to because CC understands that talent alone does not a winning team make.
Remember kids, 5% can make a big difference.