January tidbits — awards, moves, a fire, contracts, and a goodbye

The BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) held their annual dinner in New York tonight, honoring various noted players, alumni, and important baseball figures from this past year, including Dellin Betances, Brett Gardner, and Mark Teixeira. Betances was given the Sid Mercer-Dick Young New York Player of the Year Award, Gardner the Dan Castellano “Good Guy” Award (for his “candor and accessibility to writers”), and Teixeira the Joan Payson Award (for excellence in community service through his Harlem RBI programs). Also recognized was Derek Jeter with the Joe DiMaggio “Toast of the Town” Award (for a player who has become a New York favorite) and Pete Frates with the You Gotta Have Heart Award (for despite his struggle with ALS, he introduced the world to the Ice Bucket Challenge which raised millions of dollars for ALS research).

Yankee fans, it’s time to bid farewell to Ichiro Suzuki as he heads south for a year with the Marlins. Pending a physical, Ichiro will continue his long career as the 4th outfielder in their roster. Fans can catch Ichiro in Orange and Black against the Yankees in mid-June during a 4-game split (2 games in Miami and 2 in the Bronx). He will be missed, but we wish him the best of luck as he continues to add to his 4,122 hits (between Japan and the US) on his march to the inevitable Cooperstown bid.

Also, the Yankees quickly traded away recently acquired pitcher Gonzalez Germen to the Rangers for cash considerations. Easy come, easy go in this off-season.

On Wednesday, a 7-alarm fire engulfed a large apartment complex across the Hudson River from Manhattan, nearly destroying everything, but surprisingly, the loss was simply material and no lives (not even of the furry kind) were lost in the fire. One of the many residents displaced is long-time Yankees’ radio announcer John Sterling, who lost everything but the clothes on his back and his 2009 World Series ring (because it was the one he was wearing). Sterling’s loss includes 4 other World Series rings, 2 Emmy awards, and countless pictures and memorabilia. Sterling remains upbeat and positive, preferring to hold onto his memories than the “things”, cherishing the intangibles over anything that is or can be lost. Our prayers are with Sterling and all the residents as they rebuild and recreate their homes.

Last week, the Yankees came to terms with three pitchers who were arbitration-eligible — David Carpenter, Nathan Eovaldi, and Michael Pineda. Carpenter agreed to $1.275 million, Eovaldi to $3.3 million (though not officially announced), and Pineda to $2.1 million. Every contract is written differently and evolves differently depending on the progression of the player’s career, but often, at the end of the first major contract with a team, a player becomes arbitration-eligible for the final year of said contract, meaning they can negotiate a better (or worse, depending on the player and team) salary for that final year. It’s kind of like a negotiation — the player promises a good year and the team gifts them with what they think is a fair salary for that year. It’s often then used as a future negotiating point for their next contract negotiations, a good outcome can mean a huge raise and multi-year deal.

Our prayers go out to the family and friends of the great Ernie Banks, who passed away yesterday, just 8 days before his 84th birthday. Banks played his entire 19 year career with the Chicago Cubs at shortstop and 1st base (1953-1971). A 14-time All-Star, 2-time NL MVP, and with stats like 2,583 hits and 512 home runs and 1,636 RBIs and .274 batting average, it’s no wonder “Mr. Cub” was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1977. Banks was the first African-American player to wear the Cubs uniform and quickly became the face of the organization and fan favorite of Wrigley Field. In return, the Cubs retired his #14 and put a statue outside Wrigley in his honor. Banks was elected a member of the All-Century Team and is considered (along with the likes of Yogi Berra, a good friend of Banks) a prime example of the outstanding players that aided the transition between Baseball’s Golden Era and the Expansion Era. Known for his positive attitude and contagious smile, Banks will be remembered as one of baseball’s “Good Guys”. He will be missed.

Go Yankees!

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