Ron Costello

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Bridge to Yankee Stadium

The George Washington Bridge is a two-minute chip shot from Yankee Stadium. Going into the city peak-time the EZ pass tolls are hefty — $11.75. Off peak hours — $9.75. Back out is free.

Cash only is $14 all hours. That's vehicles with two axles and single rear wheels, of course.

Of course. Considering the Yankees' payroll is $217.7 million and change, they loaded up on EZ passes.

From the Yankee's Triple A affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton — actually it's not in WilkesBarre or Scranton, but in a shot and a beer town called Moosic, where knowing how to Polka is a prerequisite —Yankee Stadium is no chip shot away. But if you've got a titanium driver with a club-head the size of Rhode Island, go ahead and tee it up.

The Yankees started the season like the Phillies — old heads on the DL. Three of their five-man rotation — Tanaka, Pineda, and CC — were nursing injuries from the previous season. Plus, they had an albatross at DH they still owed $60 million to through 2017.

Sound familiar? Not many figured the Yankees in the post come October. More likely they'd be raking leaves or hunting.

All they had going were a bevy of talented young arms in Lackawanna County who could throw it through a brick wall. Sure, they were light on Show-time, but they were hungry as all get out, which is how they'd describe it in Moosic, "all get out."

Instead of coughing up big dollars, as they would have in Pop-Pop Steinbrenner's day,  they figured something out. If they rotated the young'uns between Moosic and Yankee Stadium — pay attention, this is where the EZ passes come in — they'd have young, fresh arms ready to go in the Bronx, like all get out.

In MLB, a pitching trend is emerging. Young pitchers don't buy into the Robin Roberts Rule anymore, which states that a pitcher pitches as many innings as anatomically possible, then carries his arm in a sling in the off-season.

If the arm hurt, it was a "sore arm." You got over it. The closest a pitcher got to an orthopedic surgeon was if he lived next door to one, and back then only Koufax and Ford could afford those neighborhoods.

Some clubs are handling pitchers differently. Like the Yankees. During the season, the Yankees rotated 19 pitchers from Moosic to the Bronx, including ten who made their major league debuts. The young'uns weren't just used in the rotation, either, but in the bullpen, too, helping to preserve the arms of the regulars — keeping them fresh. The Dodgers and Rays used similar rotations.

It worked.

The Yankees are in the post either by winning the AL East, or in the first wild card spot. Guaranteed!

Moreover, in the post-season, the Yankees won't have the Mets' problem — via demands from the orthopedic surgeon through the agent Scott Boras, to shut down Matt Harvey for the post season. They say Harvey's pitched too many innings and Roberts just rolled over in his grave.

Not the Yankees. In the post, their rested pitchers can throw like all get out!

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