Before we get on with the post, I’d like to personally apologize for not posting any content on the site for the last few days. There was a death in my family and I needed a few days off. I’m still not quite 100% yet, but I figured it was better to come back to work sooner than later. Thank you everyone for your understanding. Now, on with the post.
2016 is set to come to a close this evening, and it has been quite a ride. There was good (the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908), and then there was bad (celebrity deaths, divorces and an odd presidential race). But we’re not here to talk politics or entertainment. We’re here to talk baseball. More specifically, Yankees baseball.
The New York Yankees had a tumultuous 2016 season; first they were sellers, then they suddenly were faux-contenders. But during the season, there were plenty of moments that were hard to forget. So to commemorate the end of the year, let’s count down some of the most memorable moments of the 2016 season–in no particular order, of course.
1. Welcome to The Show: Gary Sanchez
No one was expecting Gary Sanchez to make a huge impact on the Major League roster. However, Sanchez was one of the main reasons the Yankees competed during the final few months of the season. Sanchez mashed 20 home runs , which was enough to make Brian McCann an expendable piece on the roster.
The Yankees eventually traded McCann to the Houston Astros and announced Sanchez as the starting catcher in 2017. But with no McCann as a safety net, Sanchez has to prove that his second half performance wasn’t a fluke.
2. Mark Teixeira retires
Prior to Spring Training, Mark Teixeira said he wanted to play for at least five more seasons. But it was obvious that Father Time wasn’t on Teixeira’s side. Teixeira realized it was time to hang up his cleats, which resulted in him announcing his retirement.
The announcement was a bit of a shock as everyone expected Teixeira to play for a few more years. But instead we saw the most emotional press conference of the season, one that had the fans in tears. Afterwards, Teixeira simply had fun playing baseball. And once the season was over, fans became emotional again. Because it was the last time anyone was going to see Teixeira don No 25 for the Yankees.
3. Alex Rodriguez (forcibly) retires
While Mark Teixeira had an emotional press conference to announce his retirement, he was allowed to stay with the team until the end of the season. Alex Rodriguez on the other hand was forced to retire because he was terrible during the first half of the season. The Yankees were able to meet Rodriguez halfway and gave him August 12th as his last day. Rodriguez’s final game was a sweet affair–except for the fact Mother Nature cut his pregame ceremony short.
While Teixeira’s press conference was genuine, Rodriguez’s press conference was…well…uncomfortable. You…can see for yourself.
4. Brett Gardner: Web Gem Master
Everyone knows that Brett Gardner is probably one of the best left fielders in game, and that’s because he’s what I like to call a “Web Gem Master”. Over the course of the season, it was almost impossible not to see a Gardner highlight on your television.
There was the game against the Toronto Blue Jays where he landed in the stands and hit his head on the pavement. Then there was the game against the Los Angeles Angels where he robbed C.J. Crohn of a home run. And finally, there was the overdramatic catch he made against the Blue Jays which clinched victory for the Yankees.
All in all it was a pretty good year for Gardner, and it ended with Gardner winning the first Gold Glove of his career.
5. Welcome to The Show: Tyler Austin & Aaron Judge
The August 13th game against the Tampa Bay Rays was special for two reasons: I was celebrating my birthday at Yankee Stadium and while I was initially disappointed Gardner and Teixeira weren’t in the lineup, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge ended up being excellent replacements. The Yankees announced Austin and Judge were going to make their Major League debuts a few hours before the game, and rest assured they started their careers off with a bang.
Austin and Judge both homered in their first at-bats at the Major League level, and because of them, the Yankees ended up winning the game. Austin and Judge both cooled down significantly since then, but when Austin homered, it truly mattered. Judge on the other hand didn’t have a good feel for the strike zone, which is something the Yankees hope he works on next season.
6. Anger and Brawls and Ejections, Oh My!
This particular week was tough on all of Major League Baseball; Jose Fernandez had died a few days prior in a boating accident. And all eyes were on the Miami Marlins and New York Mets game where the Marlins appropriately honored their fallen comrade with a win.
But north of the border, the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays got into a huge scuffle, one that ended with multiple ejections on the Yankees side…and none on the Blue Jays side. It was easy to say tempers flared…but it’s no secret the Blue Jays have been getting on everyone’s nerves ever since they became a winning ball club. It’s almost safe to say the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are no longer the most hated teams in baseball.
7. 1996 World Series Championship Ceremony
Other than Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge making their Major League debuts, the 1996 World Series Championship ceremony was another highlight on August 13. Players such as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Joe Girardi and more were honored prior to the game, as the team celebrated the 20th anniversary of a historical dynasty.
8. Goodbye Andrew Miller…
Andrew Miller was a wonderful bright spot for a team that was struggling during the first half of the season. But everyone was blindsided when the Yankees traded Miller to the Cleveland Indians for prospect Clint Frazier. Miller was missed by the Yankees in the clubhouse, and by the fans.
However, Miller went on to pitch in the postseason and dominated all the way to the World Series.While Aroldis Chapman bested him during the Fall Classic, Miller was fantastic, and he surely made Yankees fans proud. It’s safe to say that the fans will continue to miss Miller as he plays out the final two years of his contract in Cleveland.