Before Rick Pitino was best known for doing dirty, awful things to mid-western restaurant patrons, he was a well respected college basketball coach. And before that, he was coach of the Boston Celtics.
Pitino's stay was brief (three-and-a-half seasons) and wholly ineffective (102-146 record, zero postseason berths), but he did leave behind one very famous tirade to Boston sportswriters on March 1, 2000.
Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old.If you're a Yankee fan, you may need a similar pep talk when it comes to the Bombers' bench.
Darryl Strawberry is not walking through that door, fans. Wade Boggs is not walking through that door, and Tim Raines is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old...and possibly under the influence of crack cocaine.My original idea for this post was to discuss the relative dearth of talent on the Yankees' bench, an idea that came to me as Juan Miranda made Mike Sciossia look like a genius for twice intentionally walking him in front of Robinson Cano.
Then Miranda pulverized a Scott Shields fastball for a homer in the seventh, and Colin Curtis followed an inning later with a three-run shot (after entering as a pinch-hitter with an o-2 count no less!). All of a sudden, the bench didn't seem so pitiful.
But is it? With the trade deadline approaching, let's take a closer look at the Yankees' reserves.
Juan Miranda, 1B/OF: It's said that Joe Girardi likes Miranda's stroke (that came out wrong). His role is to be the Yankees' power threat off the bench from the left side. Miranda has three homers and eight RBIs in 57 at-bats. If that doesn't blow you away, his .227 average and .302 on-base percentage probably won't jack you up, either.
Francisco Cervelli, C: The continued corrosion of one Jorge Posada has made Cervelli more-or-less a regular, but I suppose he's still technically a reserve so we'll include him here. The Frisco Kid got off to a blazing start, batting .360/.448/.400 in April and .307/.368/.400 in May. The wheels came flying off in June (.180/.275/.246), but he's gotten back on track this month (.318/.375/.364). He has no pop whatsoever (only 10 extra-base hits, zero homers), but he's a quality defender and a good character guy. And whenever you can have a Italian guy on your team who speaks with a Venezuelan accent, you have to be pretty pumped.
Colin Curtis, OF: Curtis is one of those easy-to-root-for-guys. Most dudes who beat testicular cancer as a teenager and go on to make it to the Major Leagues earn that distinction. But beyond the human interest element, Curtis seems to know what to do at the plate. He had a great 10-pitch at-bat against Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton last month, and his homer on Wednesday was profoundly impressive—especially under the unique circumstances. Plus, he beat ball cancer when he was 15. Can't forget that.
Ramiro Pena, INF: A middle infielder in the Andy Stankiewicz mode, Pena is your classic good glove-no hit player. He's invaluable on your roster if Alex Rodriguez's hip starts barking in the third inning, or Derek Jeter needs a half day off, but he represents dead weight at the bottom of any lineup he bats in. There's really not much else to say here.
Marcus Thames, "OF": I put Thames' position in quotes because the 33-year-old has the defensive ability of that right fielder on your Little League team who smelled really weird. Luckily, Thames can hit left-handed pitchers quite well, and that's kept him on the Yankees, and in the big leagues in general. Thames missed significant time with a sprained ankle, but his numbers (.287 BA, .396 OBP, three homers, 13 RBIs in 87 at-bats) does reveal that he has some value. It's possible he smells like that kid, though.
So no, Larry Bird isn't walking through that door, and Darryl Strawberry ain't, either. But how about Johnny Damon?
Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.