The Original Yankees #2…
Missing The Mark…
It’s always fascinating to learn more about those who have worn the famed Yankee pinstripes. The great ones are often mentioned; Ruth, Gehrig (my personal favorite all-time player), DiMaggio, Mantle, etc. But not much is said of the lesser known players who have carved their niche in Yankee history.
I saw one blog yesterday that cried out Mark Teixeira is already the greatest all-time “Mark” in Yankees history. My only issue with this statement is that Teixeira has yet to take an “official” at bat for the Yankees, and he certainly has done nothing…yet…to bring the elusive 27th World Championship closer to the Bronx. But the topic did make me think of Mark Koenig. I am not saying that Koenig was a great player (he wasn’t), but he has a place in Yankee history that should not be forgotten.
Koenig was the original number 2 for the Yankees, and played shortstop on the storied 1927 Murderers’ Row team. A Yankee from 1925 to 1930, he was the double play combination with second baseman Tony Lazzeri.
Granted, Koenig did not have great career numbers and he didn’t stick in the major leagues for very many years. But he did bat .500 in the 1927 World Series, and had a .319 batting average in 1928.
In an interview before he died, Koenig described himself best. “I was ordinary. Very ordinary,” he said. “I had small hands and made too many errors. The only thing that I had was a powerful arm. I don’t think I could have stayed on any other club. The Yankees could have carried a midget at shortstop. That’s how good a club it was.”
Koenig had a league-leading 52 errors in 1926, with 4 more in the 1926 World Series which helped open the door for the St. Louis Cardinals to win the deciding Game 7 and their first world championship.
Koenig, who died in 1993 at age 88, was asked why he was the last survivor of the 1927 team. “I don’t understand it,” he said in a 1990 SI interview. “Maybe they got on base more and wore themselves out.”
Mark Teixeira will be the “MVM” (Most Valuable Mark) but we should definitely not forgot the Mark’s that have preceded him through the history of the franchise…
The New “Burner”…
Brett Gardner is definitely positioning himself as the Yankees’ starting centerfielder for Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 16th. I know it is still very early in camp, but Gardner has gotten off to a great start.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Pete Abraham of The LoHud Yankees Blog asked Jorge Posada about the irritation a player like Gardner causes a catcher. “Oh, we hate it,” Posada said. “It changes everything about the defense.”
Nick Swisher put it more bluntly when he said that Gardner was the ‘fastest white dude’ that he’s ever seen.
If I were Melky Cabrera, I would have skipped the WBC to make sure that my presence was felt in Yankees camp. I do not want to belittle what Cabrera can do for the WBC’s Dominican Republic team, but the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” does seem to apply. Maybe he has a tremendous few weeks with the WBC, and comes back to camp in late March to take the centerfield job. But at this point, I think Gardner brings a new dimension to the Yankees offense (so long as he can continue to get on base) and he is the leading contender for the job in my eyes…
The Closure of The Rocky Mountain News
The closure of Denver’s oldest newspaper has adversely impacted one of baseball’s greatest writers, Tracy Ringolsby. I have respected and trusted Tracy’s opinions for many years and he has long been one of my favorites.
I became a fan while he was covering the Texas Rangers for The Dallas Morning News in the late 1980’s. He has been with The Rocky Mountain News for 17 years.
The good news is that Tracy will continue to write for Foxsports.com, and he’ll expand his role at Baseball America.
Tracy has written a very good final column for the News about Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Happy trails to you too, Tracy! We’re looking forward to the next phase of your great career!
New Vikings Quarterback
In my blog yesterday, I indicated that I did not know what to think of the Minnesota Vikings’ acquisition of QB Sage Rosenfels from the Houston Texans. The indifference seems to be shared by the local press in Minneapolis-St. Paul as the Star Tribune’s headline reads “Sage Investment? We’ll See”, while the Pioneer Press opted for the more neutral “It’s Sage Rosenfels vs. Tavaris Jackson for Vikings QB” approach.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Nevertheless, I am willing to give a fellow native Iowan a chance. Just so it doesn’t bring back memories of Bob Lee at quarterback, he’ll be alright…
Maybe it was because I was such a huge fan of Fran Tarkenton, but one of my most painful memories as a Vikings fan (aside from all those Super Bowl losses and the 1998 playoff loss to the Falcons) was during the short time Lee was the starting QB. In 1978, I wrote the team a letter resigning as a fan because of my dislike for Lee, and it took a few years for the passion about the Vikings to return…