Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner was never your proto-typical ballplayer or Yankee. A bundle of energy etched in a sculpted body, he says, win it.
The Yankees have noticeably been distracted during their first week of Spring Training workouts by the sign-stealing Houston Astros, who have the team in an uproar of anger that is yet to be silenced by their manager, Aaron Boone.
Boone is of the mind, and all Yankees fans can do but hope he is right, that his players need a chance to vent the anger that’s been raging inside over a trip to the 2017 and 2019 World Series that was stolen from them by the Astros in the ALCS.
Whether propelled by the future Hall of Famer or not, it seemed to dawn on the Yankees team, “Yeah, something did happen here.”
And with that has followed protests directed at Commissioner Manfred from all quarters of the team.
Surprisingly, support has emerged from around the league from respected players like Cody Bellinger, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Jon Lester, who took particular exception to Manfred’s labeling the World Series trophy “a piece of metal.”
Dutifully, New York newspapers have reported on each of the Yankees players (see New York Post Yankees and the New York Daily News Yankees). Everyone from Aaron Judge to Gary Sanchez, to Gleyber Torres, to Hal Steinbrenner himself has vented their rage.
Yankees Brett Gardner Taking A Different Path
Curiously though, the longest-tenured Yankee of them all has not been heard from. And we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for him to chime in – because he has other things on his mind.
Much like Rob Manfred, Brett Gardner is not having a good week. A stalker of sorts has invaded his personal life, causing him to have his lawyer seek a restraining order on her.
The gory details are here and everywhere, but suffice to say Gardner wants only to be free of distractions to pursue what might well be his last opportunity to earn a World Series title.
Brett Gardner, you’ll recall, came on the Yankees scene when the team was in flux, transitioning from the famously late-nineties team that won four of five championships in the blink of an eye.
2009 was destined to be the pull out all the stops year engineered by then Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, a man of failing health with no time to lose. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira were paid handsomely to bring that “piece of metal” to New York.
Brett Gardner appeared in 108 games for the Yankees during that championship season, but he totaled less than 300 at-bats. The ring was his, but the team belonged to other players.
Yankees Have A Man On An “Astroless” Mission
In 2020, the Yankees belong to Brett Gardner. He is recognized as “The Man” in the Yankees clubhouse, befitting his occupation of the renowned “corner locker,” where every teammate passing through the door interacts with Gardner, even if it’s just a passing, Hey, how ya doin’?
Gardner must feel for his teammate of more than a decade, CC Sabathia.
Because like himself, Sabathia gave it his all – even to the point of having to be (literally) carried off the field by Steve Donahue, the Yankees trainer following a final pitch that ended with pain.
Like his Yankees teammates, Brett Gardner will take no prisoners this year. But he is not necessarily focused on the Houston Astros who, probably did, steal something from him.
But unlike the current squad of Yankees teammates (possible exception – Gerrit Cole), Brett Gardner “gets it.” The ups and downs of a regular season that never seems to end, the constant travel to hotels that all look the same, and families connected only by an iPhone – this is it.
Or, at least it could very well be pending another offseason waiting for a call from Brian Cashman saying, “Hey Brett, how about doing this one more time?”
There will be a host of backdrop dramas playing themselves out throughout the Yankees 2020 season. But none will be as captivating as witnessing Brett Gardner, the Yankee’s left fielder who – “Gets It.”