Greetings from San Francisco. Yesterday, I drove over the Bay Bridge to Vallejo, CC Sabathia’s hometown, and wrote this column about Sabathia dedicating a basketball court to his fallen cousin Demetrius Davis.
It was an extremely touching event. You could see how connected Sabathia still feels to his roots and how he unites the community there.
--In Seattle on Sunday, I spoke with former Yankee Raul Ibanez, who is still slugging at age 41 even while playing his home games at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. Ibanez’s .500 slugging percentage ties him in that category with Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler among others, although it should be noted that Ibanez doesn’t have enough plate appearances (170) to qualify for the batting title. And also that one of those “others” with a .500 slugging percentage is R.A. Dickey.
Anyway, I asked Ibanez what he thought about guys like Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells (who has declined precipitously as of late) enjoying the same sort of rebound seasons that Ibanez and Eric Chavez did last year. Whether he saw some common denominator.
He did. “I think when it comes to the hitters, Kevin Long is phenomenal, and Joe (Girardi) is unbelievable,” Ibanez said. “The whole environment, no matter what’s going on, if the team’s doing well or not doing well, there’s always a sense of calm in the locker room. There’s never any sense of panic in there. There’s always a really positive vibe.”
That arrives as a bit counterintuitive, since Girardi looked at times last August and September like he was about to go all Clark Griswold as the Yankees’ large lead over Baltimore melted into nothing. But I asked Sabathia a similar question back in spring training, and he gave me a similar answer.
“He’s not far removed from being a player, so he understands what you go through as a player,” Sabathia said of Girardi. “He understands playing here. It’s not that he leaves us alone, but he lets us figure things out.”
I told Sabathia that Girardi can often come off as highly stressed when he meets with the media in his post-game news conferences. I theorized that perhaps he lets out all of his aggression in the media sessions and then returns to the clubhouse looking more relaxed.