I love talking about baseball with anyone. Especially with Sawx fans so I can tell them to go Fack themselves. Friday night, I had the opportunity to talk hardball with an older generation Yankees fan named John in an Ancient Order of Hibernians hall. The guy has been a Yankees fan for over 70 years and remembers seeing Gehrig and Ruth play at the original Yankee Stadium (before its charm was gutted by the 1970s renovations). Below are some of the topics we chatted about.
Yankees Payroll: Despite being a humble, bingo-playing man, John had no qualms about the Yankees payroll. He cannot get over the fact that people start bitching about the recent signings of Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett but fail to consider that their payroll will be less than last year. He is very pleased that the Hank/Hal tandem will continue to spend like their father. "Put the best team on the field," says the man. Many older generation fans have soured on baseball due to the ridiculous salaries of players, but John is such a dedicated fan that even at his advanced age he makes several bus trips from Albany to Yankee Stadium a year.
Yankees Prospects: Almost every other word out of the guy's mouth was "Jackson." Of course, he was talking about future perennial All-Star CF Austin "Action/AJax" Jackson. Knew everything about him. Cannot wait for the 5 tooler to start manning sports' most pristine real estate in 2010. If I remember correctly (don't hold me to this due to copious Guinness consumption), I think Mickey Mantle's name was even mentioned when discussing Jackson. I have no idea how he knows all of this considering I don't think he has a computer/internet access. He was also adverse to trading Ian Kennedy away.
Current Outfield Situation: According to John, the CF job needs to be given to Brett Gardner. Melky needs to be released/traded due to his negative influence on Cano (who is expected to have a great comeback year). He would love to see Matsui moved but the full no-trade clause makes it virtually impossible. Nady or Swisher? Like me, he likes Nady more than Swisher but thinks Nady is a better trade option due to his salary. Likes Damon for LF.
Key to '09: The health of Posada.
Teixiera: The Yankees best signing in a long time. Thinks he will be at worst a Tino Martinez.
Overall, a great and interesting conversation given his obvious wealth of knowledge concerning the Yankees and baseball in general. I hope to catch a game with him at the New Stadium.