$2,625? For what?

Published 10:10 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The New York Yankees spent $423 million on new baseball players this offseason, most of that amount on pitching.

Now, barely a week into the season and after spending all that money, the Yankees had to send substitute first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher in to pitch the last inning of a 15-5 loss at Tampa Bay on Monday night.

It still sounds like bizarro-world to say “the defending American League champion” Rays, or Devil Rays, or whatever, but perhaps since the Rays were hoisting their first-ever banner to the hallowed rafters of the Tropicana Dome, it was fitting Swisher got the call out of the pen.

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It was also fitting that — in the same game in which Yankee starting pitcher Chien Ming-Wang gave up eight runs in one inning to send his ERA to 28.93 — Swisher was the only Yankee to stop Tampa Bay’s bats.

Swisher held the Rays scoreless in his inning and even struck out Gabe Kapler with a 78-mph pitch. Swisher’s fastest pitch came in at 80 mph. MLB.com, with its live box score, called all six of Swisher’s pitches to Kapler “changeups.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Swisher — one of the few Yanks who isn’t making many millions of dollars a year — was leading the high-priced Yanks in batting average, home runs and ERA (earned run average – runs allowed by a pitcher per nine innings).

Occassionally, through the course of a 162-game season, a player or manager has to take a bad night or bad streak and do something odd to loosen up the pressure. So in that sense, good for Swisher, who said, “I had fun with it. When am I ever going to have a chance to do that again? Probably never. We know we didn’t play very well. Got to find something to laugh about in that moment. I just happened to be the guy.”

Of note here too, Swisher is one of the best guys in all of pro sports. If any guy knows what to do with the big salary he makes, it’s him.

Among just a couple of the charities Swisher supports are Swish’s Wishes, which helps kids who need vital medical care and supports those kids’ educational and recreational opportunities; and Strikeouts for Troops, which assists wounded veterans and their families while veterans recover in military hospitals.

So Swisher is a pro athlete who gets it. But if the Yankees don’t get it together in time for their sparkling new $1.5 billion stadium, New York fans won’t be cheering Swisher or any Yankee.

One P.S. about the new Yankee Stadium, and a reason why a Yankee fan would be in his/her right mind to let the team hear it in full Bronx fashion – a seat behind home plate runs $2,625 a game. That’s not for a season ticket. It’s $2,625 per seat, per game. A “normal” box seat between first and third base goes for $350 each.