C.C. Sabathia walked off the mound for what looked like the last time in his career grimacing in pain. The big lefty had just strained his shoulder on a pitch in the eight inning of Thursday night’s 8-3 loss to the Astros. Sabathia tried to stay in the game but knew it was his time. He walked off the mound with head trainer Steve Donahue dejected, but got a rousing ovation from the crowd that remained at Yankee Stadium.
Sabathia has been the heartbeat of this Yankees team for over ten years now. When he arrived in 2009, he brought a presence that wasn’t there beforehand. And according to Alex Rodriguez on Fox Sports’ telecast, he brought the winning pedigree that allowed the Yankees to win the World Series that season.
Sabathia will never be Greg Maddux or Walter Johnson. He’ll never be in the conversation for the best pitcher of all time. But Sabathia’s perseverance, guts and moxie makes him a sure-fire Hall of Famer in my book.
Sabathia’s career stats are as follows; 251-161 with a career ERA of 3.74. He’s a five time All-Star, a Cy Young award winner and one of the toughest pitchers in baseball history. What he lacked in numbers he makes up for in personality.
Sabathia’s playoff stats aren’t eye popping, and he was shelled quite a few times, but when he was healthy there were very few pitchers you’d rather have on the bump. C.C. oozed confidence and that confidence brought the entire clubhouse up. He single-handedly carried the Milwaukee Brewers to a National League playoff berth, and without him in the 2009 playoffs for the Yankees, they never would have had a shot.
Many people will look at Sabathia’s stats as a player and say “yeah he was good but he wasn’t a Hall of Famer”. For someone like Sabathia, he needs to be measured in more than just numbers. He brings intangibles that not many other people have.
Sabathia will one day have both his plaque in Cooperstown and most likely his number up in Monument Park. He deserves it, because he was not only a pleasure to watch on and off the field, but personified everything it means to be a Yankee.
It’s a sad end to what was a great career, but C.C. wouldn’t want it any other way. Thank you, C.C. Sabathia, for teaching the young Yankees how to fight and claw for every inch. Thank you for being as feisty a competitor as we’ve seen in a long time. Thank you for being you. See you in the Hall of Fame.
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