All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Thank you, Bubba

I'm still shellshocked about Bubba being cut, and can't seem to stop posting about it. Sorry if I'm repeating myself. I was half-expecting it, but it all seems so sudden. I guess I was expecting him to get one last game to say goodbye, at least. How weird, that they flew him to Baltimore, let him put on his uniform, then gave him the kiss-off before the game. I guess that reflects how hard the decision was to make, but still. No wonder he was blindsided.

Waldman said last night that the Marlins might claim Bubba off waivers. She said they tried to trade for him during spring training, but were turned down. Girardi always liked Bubba, and thinks he can be an everyday player. And the Marlins need a CFer. They've been using infielder Alfredo Amezaga in the outfield, along with other assorted warm bodies.

Might be best for Bubba's career if he's claimed. Even if he's called up again in September, there's no room on the Yankees roster for him next year. And the Marlins would give him a shot to play every day. He's said that's what he wants.

However, if I had to bet, I'd put my money on Bubba clearing waivers. If the Yanks really want to keep him, I don't think Girardi would rock the boat. The wait is ten days, I think. If no one puts in a claim, he'll go to Columbus, play there for three weeks, then return to the Yankees when rosters expand on Sept. 1. Maybe he'll find his stroke with the Clippers. He's better than his 2006 numbers.

I'll be keeping my antennae up for news on Bubba's situation, and will post anything I find out.

And now I'd like express my appreciation for what Bubba's given us for the past three seasons. From the beginning, Yankee fans fell in love with his pluck. When he first came up in 2004, he was the youngest player on a rather old team. Indeed, he was the first rookie to make the team out of spring training in the Torre era.

Everyone loves an underdog, even Yankee fans. And he really did beat the odds, just cracking the Yankee roster. He must have felt doomed when he was traded to the Yankees. The Yanks had the reputation then of never bringing up their farm talent. Bubba's chances were seen as so dim that Baseball Prospectus didn't even include him. But he had a spectacular spring training, hitting .357 / .386 / .690 / 1.076.

He made the roster, and started out with quite a splash, homering in his first at bat. In his next game, he homered again and made some spectacular circus catches in CF (getting Moose his elusive 200th win). Bubba got a curtain call the first game he started as a Yankee. Fans were chanting his name and cheering wildly any time a ball went near him, even if it was the most routine can of corn imaginable. As Alex Bealth of Bronx Banter put it, a folk hero is born in the Bronx.

As some disgruntled Dodgers fans pointed out, Yankee fans then were simply not used to rookies. Bubba was a breath of fresh air - a scrappy kid so happy just to be wearing pinstripes, on a team full of jaded superstars always grousing about their contracts. He played his heart out every game. He added a real spark to the team, and it was a joy to see.

Since then, we've had more rookies on the team, many more successful. But who knows? Maybe Bubba helped open the door.

As promising as his first season was, his second was better. From this article at YES:

Meanwhile, Bubba Crosby made the most of his first extended run of playing time in the majors. Not only was he an effective outfielder, mostly in place of Bernie Williams in center, but Crosby hit .321 in September during the thick of a pennant race. During that time, Bubba hit his only home run of the year — a game-winning solo blast into the right field bleachers against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 19. Boston won on that same night, so take away that victory and the Yankees would have failed to win their eighth straight division title by a half game.

I thought Bubba might finally break through this year. He had the opportunity, with Sheff and Matsui out. He was hitting well: .286 / .333 / .357, with both his average and power rising with regular playing time. That was better than Melky Cabrera. Melky went into a horrible slump around then, and if Bubba had been available, he might have taken over LF, with Melky sent back to Columbus.

But Bubba suffered that unfortunately timed hamstring injury. He was out nearly a month, and struggled at the plate after he got off the DL, never really getting enough at bats to fix his swing. Success in the big leagues is often all about luck and timing, and it just didn't work out for Bubba this year.

So far, anyway. I still think Bubba can be an everyday player, and I hope he gets a chance to prove it. Either with the Yanks this fall, or with a new team.

Bubba, thank you for a lot of thrilling moments on the ball field, and for the spirit and spark you brought to a very old, very corporate team. You always played the game right.

And don't give up. You have the talent and the drive to make it. I know you'll do it. It'll work out, don't worry. You've overcome so many challenges just to get where you are. You'll overcome this one, too.
posted by BubbaFan, 2:41 PM


i am heartbroken... i miss him already...
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, August 06, 2006 3:25 AM  
I'm heartbroken, too. I find it hard to even watch Yankees games now. It's not the same without Bubba.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, August 06, 2006 10:00 PM  

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