The Yankees have sent out a media advisory in preparation for a press conference with Mark Teixeira at 3 PM before tonight’s game. As it turns out, the Yankees first baseman is planning to announce his retirement from baseball after 14 seasons in the majors.
Though he has struggled with injury and ineffectiveness this year, many believed he would try to latch on with a team for the 2017 season. Just this offseason, Teixeira talked about wanting to play for another five seasons after his contract in New York was up. As funny as it was to hear then (he would be pushing 40 by the end of it) his surprise 2015 season made it a possibility. It’s just too bad he couldn’t have a repeat in 2016.
It’s hard to consider what the narrative of his time here will be. He signed in 2009 as a first baseman with power and an ability to hit all over the field. Unfortunately, some of those abilities eroded in New York and he became more of a dead pull hitter. As strategies changed and shifts became more prominent, Teixeira failed to adjust and his batting average plummeted. The power stayed throughout, making him a legitimate threat and still one of the best hitters in the lineup.
Then things changed when he suffered a torn tendon sheath preparing for the World Baseball Classic in 2013. Suddenly his career became less about hitting to all fields and more about whether he could even stay on the field. He fell victim to a growing number of aches and pains, constantly missing time and becoming unreliable. It seemed his Yankee tenure was destined to rattle around the drain until things took a surprising turn last year.
That year he hit 31 home runs and had one of his best offensive seasons in his Yankees career. He was an All-Star and, along with Alex Rodriguez, effectively turned back the clock and propelled the team toward the playoffs. Then something random and stupid happened and he broke his leg on a foul ball.
We thought he’d be the same player this year, but that couldn’t be further from what actually ended up happening. He went from possibly his best season in pinstripes to his absolute worst. He tore cartilage in his knee and nearly missed the remainder of the season. Things were back to normal for him, and I guess you can only do it for so long when you’re not being paid the same millions of dollars that you were worth back when you were 30.
Still, though, it’s important to remember the first three years of his Yankees career. He hit 111 home runs, collected 341 RBI, and hit .266/.363/.514 over that time as a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner, leading the team to a World Series title in just his first year. It’s easy to forget after everything we’ve been through with him.
Despite everything that came after, he was a good Yankee for longer than he was a bad one, even if he was annoying and unbearable during some of the tougher moments. To his credit, he also offered some incredibly hilarious moments off the field because Mark Teixeira is your middle-aged dad. Even when he wasn’t performing, he did a good job of not being completely unlikeable. He’s awkward and weird, makes weird faces, and is somewhat embarrassing, but so is your father and you love him anyway. Maybe this is Mark Teixeira’s legacy. I’d sign up for that.
His number won’t be retired, but a plaque is a matter up for debate. Hopefully in five years when he attends his first Old-Timers’ Day, we can remember the good over the not-so-good.