As a Yankee fan, I tend to take All-Stars and Hall of Famers for granted. In just the last two years the Yankees have signed CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Teixeira, and Roger Clemens, and re-signed Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada. I love watching these high caliber players, and I will always root for them; well, as long as they are in pinstripes). But I?ve always been more enthralled with the guys who?s destiny isn?t yet set, the guys who are still trying to make a name for themselves. It?s the Melky Cabreras, the Bubba Crosbys, the Brett Gardners who keep baseball in my blood.
I always seem to connect with the younger players who are still trying to prove themselves at the big league level. I quickly became an adamant supporter of Chien Ming Wang and Robinson Cano as they rapidly developed into integral members of the team, but it was Cabrera who became my favorite player. Melky is not an all-star, but it is always a blast watching him play. He just oozes energy, whether it be his bullets from center that save a run, his priceless handshakes with Cano, or his game-saving catch against the hated Red Sox, robbing Manny Ramirez of a home run. There is something about the youthful enthusiasm that he brings to the field every day that makes it impossible for me to stop rooting for him.
I had the same feeling with Bubba Crosby a few years back. One of my fondest memories of the Yankees is when he hit that walk-off homer against the Orioles. Sure, in the grand scheme of things it was insignificant, but in the moment it was one of the most exciting baseball events that I?ve experienced in recent years. He isn?t a star, he isn?t even a big leaguer anymore, but his excitement after that shot to left was a perfect example of why baseball is America?s past time; it is all about living out your dreams.
There?s just something priceless about watching those young guys fighting for a job, whether they are going to become stars or not. I think that everyone gets that feeling to some extent. Remember when Shelley Duncan started mashing home runs as soon as he made the team in 2007? Or when Joba surprised us all with his 0.38 ERA in his 24 innings in 2007? How about Aaron Small winning 10 games in 2006? Unbelievable! Even when Phil Coke was lights out last year, and when Gardner came up, he might have only hit .228, but everyone loved seeing him give everything he had, every time he played. As Yankee fans, we get so wrapped up in the All-Stars on our team, that we sometimes forget about the other guys who, in my opinion, truly complete the game.
I love watching the big name guys, but for me, there?s something about watching someone work his way onto a big league team that is even more exciting.