Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rant #995: Struck Out

This is shaping up to be a very long summer for New York Yankees fans.

The team, which has been a powerhouse since the mid 1990s and also has a fabled past that no other team can even approach, has fallen on very hard times this year.

The team has suffered numerous injuries to key players, and after a good start, they have pretty much caved in.

Nothing is working, and few of the injured players are even close to game ready, so the team has had to go with second-, third- and fourth-line players, and it hasn't worked.

However, yesterday, something happened that was one for the record books, or at least the Yankees record books.

Andy Pettitte struck out Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau in the bottom of the third inning for his 1,958th strikeout for the team, passing Whitey Ford for first in team history.

Pettitte needed two strikeouts in the game to gain the lead, and the 41 year old lefthander stuck out Clete Thomas in the second inning to tie the record, which has lasted for about 47 years.

Ford retired in 1967, and is a regular at Yankees' Oldtimers Day events. He actually held the team record since 1963, expanding upon it in his last four years in pinstripes.

Pettitte is pretty much on his last legs as a Yankees pitcher. He has spent his entire career with the organization, save a few years when he defected to the Houston Astros.

Like Ford, he is a lefty, and also like Ford, he is one of the best pitchers of his generation.

Pettitte has 213 wins for the Yankees during his career, while Ford had 236, so that record that Ford owns won't be broken anytime soon.

But Pettitte's record won't either.

Pettitte does have more than 2,000 total strikeouts in his career, but it will be interesting to see if he can surpass that total with the Yankees.

The Yankees are old, broken down and injured, and Pettitte has been off and on the disabled list since coming back to the Yankees last year.

It is highly doubtful that he will come back next year, or that the Yankees will want him back as a 40-year-old-plus pitcher with little gas left.

But gaining this record is another feather in the cap for the lefty, who also holds the record for most postseason wins at 19.

I mean, the strikeout record hasn't gotten the play the Derek Jeter received when he went five for five in gaining his 3,000th hit, the first player to do it as a Yankee.

And Nolan Ryan doesn't have anything to worry about with Pettitte.

But it still is a nice record to have, a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.

Can Pettitte be the first Yankee to record 2,000 strikeouts as a Bronx Bomber?

He will at least come close, so it gives him an incentive to go for, and for Yankee fans to watch.

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