Rain-outs make me bored, because I usually occupy myself on weeknights by watching the Yankees. So when they're not on, the first thing I do is sit there pouting, and saying stuff like, "Darn I really wanted to see the game tonight..." as if that will make any difference in what Mother Nature has planned. Then I think about the game that would have been, and sometimes, I even get inspired enough to write something.
I have been sitting here thinking about the would-have-been starting pitcher for tonight's Yankees vs. Reds matchup, Brian Gordon. Then I seriously wondered: could Brian Gordon really help the Yankees?
He has had one start so far. Gordon tossed 5.1 innings, allowed 2 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks, and struckout 3 on Thursday against the Rangers. That translates to a respectable 3.38 ERA. So the easy way to answer my own question would be to say, "Yeah, he can help the Yankees, they won when he pitched and he has a good ERA."
But I've got too much time on my hands to just end it there.
Before his outing on Thursday, I had never heard of Brian Gordon. He has had a pretty interesting baseball life so far.
Brian Gordon was born on August 16, 1978. I'm only saying this because I just looked him up, and I realized he and I have the same birthday (only I'm 1993, but the same day)! Okay now I'm really rooting for this guy.
Gordon was drafted way back in 1997, when I was a little 4 year old, by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was supposed to be an outfielder. He bounced around in the Minors for a long time (and it probably seemed even longer, because no one wants to be stuck in the Minors), and after the 2006 season, he decided that the whole outfielder/hitting thing wasn't working out for him. It was then that he decided to convert into a pitcher. He shined in the Venezuelan Winter League as a pitcher, and found himself on the Phillies in Triple-A. And after he opted-out of his contract there, he was signed by the New York Yankees, and made his debut two days later.
He's a 32 year old rookie. By just looking at that little fact, some people might be scared away from Gordon, thinking "Well, he's 32 and finally made it, it took him long enough, he probably sucks."
But players don't have to be young to make an impact. They don't have to fly through the system, they don't even have to be good in the Majors right away.
The Yankees know this first hand.
I'm sure I'm not the only Yankees fan who remembers Aaron Small: the guy who had been in the game for 10 years, up and down, many teams, who the Yankees called up in 2005 because of injuries, who wound up surprising the world of baseball when he went 10-0 with a 3.20 ERA for the Yankees. That was his career year - the only year that he was good. But he helped the team and worked his way into the hearts of Yankee fans like myself, even making an appearance at Old Timer's Day in 2008. Maybe he was a fluke, maybe he had some talent but couldn't harness it, maybe playing on the Yankees brought out the best in him, who knows. All I know is that flukes do happen. And so do miracles.
I don't know what will happen with Brian Gordon. I don't know if he'll be another lucky signing for the Yankees, or if his one solid start was a fluke. I can't predict the future. All I know, is that even if he doesn't have the most talent in the world, he has the other stuff it takes to win in the Big Leagues: toughness and heart. Any guy who would spend that many years in the Minors, any guy who risked it all to become a pitcher, any guy who made his debut at Yankee Stadium in the circumstances that Brian Gordon did, is a guy I'd say can succeed. Even if it is just a few starts.
A few wins can go a long way, and the Yankee fans won't forget that.
by Virginia Califano
Questions? Comments? Contact Virginia at firstname.lastname@example.org