These thoughts are late. They were supposed to be posted after the Yankees swept the Blue Jays, but it’s been a busy week in the Keefe household where my wife Brittni and I welcomed our first child Cameron. I’m currently writing this on about five hours of total sleep over the last six days as this week has sort of just been one long day.
One thing that has helped with my lack of sleep between 20-minute naps has been the Yankees’ current nine-game winning streak. A week ago I was worried about the Yankees holding off the Orioles, Tigers and Mariners. Now I’m worried about them once again having home-field advantage for the best-of-3 wild-card series.
My son (when will that stop being weird to say?) has never seen the Yankees lose a game. Never. In his world, the Yankees are undefeated. All he has known are wins, record-setting home runs, making history and embarrassing the Red Sox at Fenway Park. I’m jealous.
Last season, I wrote the Off Day Dreaming blogs on every off day, but this season there aren’t many off days. There aren’t many games. So instead, I have decided to use the Off Day Dreaming format following each series. Yankees Thoughts will be posted after each series this season.
Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.
1. I spent the majority of the week sleeping in a hospital chair and my back started to feel like Aaron Hicks’ after that 35-minute bus ride in spring training last year. I was able to quickly recover though, and my timeline wasn’t delayed by two-and-a-half months. I did manage to catch a quick nap in the actual hospital bed when the nurse briefly removed my wife from it, and in the moment, I would have signed off on a 10-year, $150 million deal for Tyler Wade for that nap. It was worth it. So worth it. Not only would I have been OK with a decade of Wade, I would have been OK with the Yankees retiring Nick Swisher’s number, giving him a monument in Monument Park and naming him manager.
Even as I was learning how to care for a newborn, changing my first diaper (I had been practicing on a stuffed animal, which is just a little easier than a human with no core melting down and crying) and trying to find the right amount of force for burping, I still managed to watch the Yankees-Blue Jays series. Those are the Yankees I thought we would see in 2020. Cameron Keefe hasn’t had to live in a world where Jordy Mercer is playing shortstop for the team with the highest payroll in the league. He hasn’t had to watch Michael King open a game, Luis Avilan try to protect a lead or Mike Ford bat third. He has only ever known winning and he has only ever known Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton as healthy and available players. What a world to live in.
2. Is Cameron the Yankees’ good luck charm? Since his birth, the Yankees are 4-0. They swept the Blue Jays on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then beat the Red Sox on Friday. The Yankees outscored the Blue Jays 43-15 in the three games and then came back down four runs to improve to 8-0 against the Red Sox this season. I think he is.
3. Since Cameron was born on Monday night, the Yankees have gotten completely healthy. On Thursday, the Yankees had their first day of the 2020 season in which no players were on the 10-day disabled list. With newest Yankees fan Cameron in the world, the Yankees returned Judge, Stanton and Gio Urshela from the injured list. The Yankees are at full strength, which is something I never thought they would be this season.
4. Cameron’s birth has coincided with Aaron Boone finally figuring out how to create a lineup. On Friday, Boone put together this lineup:
DJ LeMahieu, 2B
Aaron Judge, RF
Giancarlo Stanton, DH
Luke Voit, 1B
Gleyber Torres, SS
Aaron Hicks, CF
Gio Urshela, 3B
Gary Sanchez, C
Clint Frazier, LF
It’s not perfect and I would make a few adjustments, but compared to what Boone ususally comes up with when the Yankees are healthy, it’s night and day. I’m proud of Boone. Maybe he is growing as a manager. Judge and Stanton batting back-to-back is something I expected to see for many years, and then the Yankees scrapped it early in Stanton’s Yankees’ tenure deciding it would be a good idea to separate their best hitters with Hicks or Brett Gardner. I’m happy to see Boone and the analytics department have come to their senses. (There’s a good chance that lineup will only be used against left-handed pitching and I will have to retract my praise for Boone.)
5. Cameron has been around for four games and he has already seen history as the Yankees hit 19 home runs over a three-game span, which had never been done in major league history. On top of that, the Yankees homered five times in an inning on Thursday, something no Yankees team has ever done.
6. As President of the Gary Sanchez Fan Club, I have long defended the oft-criticized Yankees catcher. I have gone out of my way to support a player who was hitting .127/.243/.322 through Sunday. Since Cameron was born on Sept. 14, Sanchez is 6-for-18 with two doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs. His double on Friday night ignited the Yankees’ comeback and his game-tying home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth saved the game and their winning streak. Sanchez is batting .333/.368/.944 with Cameron here and looks like 2016-17 Sanchez. He can thank Cameron for that 1.313 OPS.
7. I don’t care about individual awards, except for the batting title. My care for the batting title comes from growing up needing to watch every Derek Jeter at-bat and needing to check the box score to see what he did in any games I missed. I was disappointed when DJ LeMahieu was unable to become the first player in history to win the batting title in both leagues last season after Tim Anderson won it despite missing 40 games. This season, though, LeMahieu is right there once again to accomplish the feat, and once again he will need to fend off Anderson to do so. Since Cameron was born, LeMahieu is 9-for-18 and leads Anderson .367 to .365 in the batting race. In addition to the .500 average over the last four games, LeMahieu has hit four doubles and four home runs with 10 RBIs to go with four walks. LeMahieu is awesome and an MVP candidate and was so before Sept. 14, but his game seems to have gone to another level since then.
8. The Yankees could win the next five World Series and Brian Cashman could retire some day with 10 rings as general manager, and trading Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos for Luke Voit and international bonus slot money will go down as the pinnacle of his front office career. Voit has had a glorious season and has been one of the season-long bright spots for the Yankees. But since Sept. 14? 7-for-19 (.368), one double, four home runs and 10 RBIs. Voit now leads the majors with 20 home runs and is on a 69-home run, 162-game pace.
9. I was a month old when my biggest fear came true: a Mets-Red Sox World Series. It’s a Yankees’ fan’s nightmare. There are no positive outcomes. One team has to win. Thankfully, I don’t have memories of it, and thankfully, it hasn’t happened again. I’m sure as a Yankees fan my dad was disappointed for his second son’s first World Series to be between the two most hated teams. Cameron will be spared the same matchup this October with the Red Sox having been eliminated in the first week of the season and the Mets having had another Mets season.
10. Winning in September is fun and all, but winning in October is what matters. Right now, Cameron thinks his father is always happy watching baseball and that the team in home pinstripes or with “New York” written across their chest on their road gray uniforms always wins. Well, he would think that if he knew I wasn’t just a guy who brings him a bottle when he cries and struggles to change his clothes or if he knew what baseball was or if he knew what pinstripes were or if he could read.
Cameron will be in for a rude awakening in 10 days when the real season begins and when the guy who brings him bottles when he cries and struggles to change his clothes is no longer enjoying the colorful lights on the black rectangle on the wall. He will be surprised when the laughter of the Yankees going back-to-back-to-back against Blue Jays pitching is replaced with fear when the opposing team gets the leadoff runner on in any inning.
Cameron is a Yankees fan. He was born into it. Here’s to him experiencing as much winning being one as I have.
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