Yankees: Any which Way You Can Is Just Fine, Jacoby

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees lineup for the 2017 season is filled with promise and power. But, there is one player who qualifies as a secret weapon, if only, he were to unleash himself.

Yankees center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, has seen a host of adjectives applied next to his name when it appears in print. From mysterious to The153 Million Dollar Man to an enigma, to a con artist, Ellsbury has seen it all.

And through it all, no one has ever said that he lacks the talent to be a superstar. No one that is except maybe the man himself.

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Unlike, for instance, his partner in left field, Brett Gardner, who is wound up like a top, Ellsbury comes off as being aloof and uncaring about his performance on the field. He doesn’t smash water coolers like Paul O’Neill, he doesn’t argue with umpires like Jorge Posada, and he doesn’t confront his manager in the dugout like Reggie Jackson.

He’s just kind of “there.” And because he’s playing in a city where the one thing fans won’t stand for is a lack of effort, he’s been targeted and assaulted with words that must hurt when he hears or reads them. Here, for instance, is Exhibit A from this writer.

There’s no need to atone for my sins. Ellsbury has been a disaster in a Yankees uniform, no two ways about it. But at the same time, maybe the criticism has been a little too personal at times.

Because when someone tries to get in another person’s head, that’s traveling down a slippery slope. Still, from what Ellsbury has shown us, he does not appear to have much of a personality. His close friends, undoubtedly, would argue with that. But it’s a fair statement as far as his public persona.

Ellsbury will never be the larger than life personality that Babe Ruth, Thurman Munson, and Reggie Jackson were. But, maybe, he doesn’t need to be, and he just needs to be Jacoby Ellsbury or more of a Don Mattingly type of player who shows up at the ballpark with lunch pail in hand and ready to go to work.

This Spring, he’s showing signs of doing just that. And nothing can be more welcome. Take, for example, this paragraph that appeared in a story by MLB.com:

"Ellsbury went 3-for-3 with two stolen bases in the Yankees’ 8-7 victory over the Braves at Champion Stadium. That makes it three spring swipes for Ellsbury, who once said during that he would prefer not to steal aggressively in Spring Training."

So let me get this straight. Ellsbury has stolen three bases this spring, but he’s not stealing “aggressively.” Fine, we’ll take it any which way you can, Jacoby. Just get the job done because we need you.

Ellsbury does not need to be Pete Rose diving recklessly head first into bases. If he did, he would become the darling of New York fans and an overnight sensation. But, the Yankees don’t need that kind of performance on the field.

What the Yankees do need, however, is for Jacoby Ellsbury to play, as Brian Cashman put it, to the level “that he is capable of.”

That’s it. Nothing more, nothing else.

Because it’s not rocket science to figure out that the Yankees lineup takes on a whole new look if Ellsbury is firing on all cylinders, even if the muffler on his car doesn’t make a loud noise.