Thirty years ago, the Mets and the Red Sox locked in mortal baseball combat, in a World Series. It ended with the Mets on top of a baseball world that didn’t necessarily love that edition of the team, and the Red Sox having been kicked to the rocks below after having gotten close enough, yet again, to a Promised Land determined never to let them set foot upon it again, or so it seemed.
On the regular season’s final day last fall, CC Sabathia awoke in Baltimore the day after the Yankees played a doubleheader and felt uncertain whether he would explode or implode. A weekend with the bottle alone in his hotel did that to him.
Hung over and mentally parched, Sabathia’s first top on arriving in Camden Yards that Sunday was manager Joe Girardi’s office. The big Yankee lefthander was going against his own wife’s advice. Amber Sabathia, according to the New York Daily News, urged her husband to wait.
. . . and what would be a little spring training without a few little controversies, actual or alleged, here and there?
■ THE CHANGELING—That would be new commissioner Rob Manfred, for whom it seems everything short of shortening the basepaths (oops! don’t give him any ideas!) is on the table, whether it’s outlawing defensive shifting, coming up with new rule adjustments to (it is alleged) speed up the game, or even returning baseball to the 154-game season. (The American League went to 162 games after its first expansion, beginning in 1961; the National League did likewise starting with its first expansion in 1962.)
CC Sabathia sat in the Yankee dugout gazing upon the field with a look, to an outsider, that seemed suspended between resignation and disbelief, moments after his day ended two thirds of the way through the bottom of the fourth. His Detroit counterpart, Max Scherzer, who had to get past late-season shoulder barking, would remain in the serious business of absolutely throttling a Yankee lineup for another inning and a third, doing to the Yankees what Sabathia once did to the other guys.