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Yankees Rumors and Gossip 9/14/15: First basemen, MVPs, and John Sterling

Today's blender of rumors includes assembled sentences on Korean first basemen, opinions on who should be team MVP, and, variously, tales about the life of John Sterling.

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  • The Yankees have scouted twenty-nine-year-old Byung-Ho Park, a first baseman in the Korea Baseball Organization (the professional baseball league in Korea). Per his page on the KBO League site, Park has an on-base of .441 in 565 plate appearances this year, with 48 home runs and 33 doubles. That’s much home runs. That’s also much doubles. And it’s not like this is a one-off – last year Park hit 52 home runs, and 37 the year before. This is interesting news, but there are a ton of red flags: that Park is doing this in a markedly less competitive league for one (mark this down as a giant red flag – perhaps a sort of red tapestry, if you will); also that he is twenty-nine, which means he is more or less at the peak of his ability and therefore not likely to develop any further; also that the Yankees already have multiple first basemen, one on contract for next year, Mark Teixeira, and one who is ostensibly the heir to the position after that, Greg Bird. One figures this is probably the beginning and end of this story.
  • One doubt around Greg Bird’s call-up to the Majors in August was if he’d see enough playing time. With Teixeira entrenched at first base and Alex Rodriguez with two hoofs down on the designated hitter spot, Bird looked to be out of position. Then, of course, Teixeira promptly went and got injured and Bird has filled in ever since. Teixeira and Rodriguez are expected to take the same roles for the team next year, so Bird would seem to face the same dilemma; however, the quiet word is the team will keep Bird on board – with some question marks about Teixeira’s ability to keep healthy and evidence that regular time off helps keep Rodriguez afloat, the team figures Bird will get enough playing time between the two veterans to justify his spot on the active roster before he takes first base full-time in 2017.
  • In a confusing declaration, Brian McCann has announced loudly (there’s no evidence he said it loudly but I’d like to assume so) he considers Dellin Betances to be the team’s MVP. While it is true that Betances is an extremely good player, it is not true that he is the team’s MVP, and color me surprised McCann would pick him over others who’ve played markedly more than Betances. By fWAR, Betances is the eighth most valuable human on the team (2.4). First is... well, Brian McCann (3.3). Second, for reference, is Nathan Eovaldi (3.1), and third is Michael Pineda (3.0).
  • In other Betances news, George A. King reports the giant strikeout man will try a new model of protective headgear in spring training next year. Evidently the new cap offers more padding around the side of the head. Betances said he would do "anything for protection." Others in the clubhouse, including Luis Severino, recently tried it on behind the scenes.
  • The Yankees recorded what would appear to be a YES Network-exclusive version of Family Feud, in case that’s the kind of thing that gets you excite. It’s unclear precisely when this will air, but we’ll let you know if anything comes from it. Mark Teixeira was reportedly involved, which in and of itself means this is sure to be some good content.
  • Sports Illustrated ran a longform piece on WFAN’s John Sterling. It’s a good overview of Sterling’s career and includes a number of properly fascinating stories about the loud man's life, though it does lack lines about him spending nights alone getting hammered and watching soap operas – leave that to this classic. But take a look if you want to learn more about Sterling’s apartment burning down, a legitimately sad story I wasn’t aware of. Some choice excerpts from that particular tale:
    . . .He opened a door near his apartment and saw a thick cloud of smoke. "I couldn’t see a thing," he recalls. "I said to myself, ‘John, you better get the hell out of here.’" . . . It was a devastating blaze. One of the buildings in the complex was destroyed, permanently displacing about 500 residents, including Sterling. Everything in his apartment was gone, including his beloved book collection, his extensive wardrobe (he’s known for wearing sharp suits in the booth, even though he’s on the radio), and four of his five World Series rings. Only the 2009 ring on his finger the day of the fire remains.

    He lost photos, phone numbers and letters. . . . One night, he woke up in his hotel in a panic, "petrified" that something would happen to his one remaining pair of eyeglasses. "If I don’t have glasses, I’m f——ed," he says. He quickly ordered two more pairs, which he keeps handy in the broadcast booth, just in case.

    . . .The outpouring of support after the fire was almost overwhelming. Among those who offered him a place to stay were [Buck] Showalter and Alex Rodriguez. . . . YES broadcaster Michael Kay, who shared the radio booth with Sterling for 10 years, hooked him up with a friend in the clothing business who gave him some new suits. And the Yankees sent over a suitcase, a bottle of scotch and boxes of toiletries.
    Also recounted is George Steinbrenner’s affection for Sterling, and the development of Sterling’s signature ‘Yankees win’ call ("One day, for whatever reason, I put a little rock-and-roll into it").