The biggest news yesterday was obviously that the Yankees finally released Jacoby Ellsbury. I don’t care that the only reason they did it was because insurance would not cover the final year of his contract, I’m just happy he’s finally out of our lives.
The second biggest story line from yesterday was that the Yankees designated Greg Bird for assignment. Now, this does not mean we’ve seen the end of Bird. Nobody could pick him up and he could wind up back with the Yankees in spring training, but I imagine some team will fall in love with his sweet left-handed swing because they watched that one clip of him hitting a home run off Andrew Miller a thousand times (don’t deny it, we all have.)
I was always on Bird’s side through all the ups and (mostly) downs. The potential of Bird’s bat at first base was alluring, especially in the middle of big right-handed hitters Judge, Sanchez, and Stanton. But the moment he lost me, and many other Yankees fans, was August 16, 2018.
"We've got a great team … We just gotta keep standing up for each other."
Greg Bird speaks with @M_Marakovits following a disappointing 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay. pic.twitter.com/ta0W9GCMKm
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) August 16, 2018
The Yankees had just lost 3-1 to the Rays at Yankee Stadium. For most of the game, their offense was shut down by Blake Snell and the Tampa bullpen, but in the 9th inning the Yankees mounted a rally. Didi and Gleyber started the inning with back-to-back singles, and Neil Walker then walked to load the bases for Bird. Tampa replaced Sergio Romo with Adam Kolarek, and on the first pitch he threw, Bird popped up to foul territory. Gardner and Romine followed by striking out to end the game.
After the game, Bird’s comments were infuriating. With a smile on his face he talked about how he’s just happy to be out there playing ball, and that this is the most games he’s ever played in a season and he’s proud of that. This, coming from a guy who had a whopping .698 OPS to that point in the season and had just embarrassed himself at the plate with the game on the line.
Then came the whopper: “I’ll have… 5–, 6–, 7,000 more chances and I’m pretty happy about that.” Just for fun I looked it up and Bird had 90 more plate appearances with the Yankees, in which he slashed .150/.244/.300 for a pitcher-like 48 wRC+.
When Mr. March himself mouthed the words “7,000 more chances” was the moment he lost me. I don’t expect every player to act like Paul O’Neill after they strike out, but I also cannot stand a guy who seemingly doesn’t give a crap while only managing to get on the field 186 times over 5 years because his bones are made of string cheese.
So, goodbye and good riddance to Greg Bird. I’m just happy we don’t have to fall for your potential any longer (I hope).