Yankees: Reflecting on the official loss of Tommy Kahnle


Tommy Kahnle’s gone from the Yankees, and he’s not coming back.

When the New York Yankees lost Tommy Kahnle on Wednesday morning, it hurt.

But it hurt far less than when the Yankees truly lost Kahnle on a July afternoon in 2020 when hope was supposed to be springing eternal.

Instead, it was in many ways the beginning of the end for a championship contender that had already had its window partially closed by negotiations, COVID, and greed.

While it may not have been obvious during a 2019 season in which spare parts became stars and the Yankees’ roster, constantly pummeled by injuries, always seemed to sail towards the finish line anyway, Kahnle was an irreplaceable member of this bullpen (at least, in season).

And, as evidenced by Zack Britton’s reaction tweet, will make the roster a few percentage points more glum by his departure alone.

When Kahnle arrived midway through the 2017 season in a massive deal with the White Sox, the loudest man in the room was somehow the most mysterious piece — even though his ’17 numbers said he should’ve been the headliner.

Every Yankees fan knew exactly what to expect from David Robertson, a tough-as-nails competitor whose hammer curve would only descend quicker when the postseason arrived. People knew Todd Frazier for his power bat, and would soon learn what a galvanizing force he could become in the right locker room — specifically one situated so close to New Jersey.

Kahnle was a combination of the two, utilizing a devastating changeup that didn’t care whether it was June or October, and firing up his teammates with guttural screams that could be heard from the bullpen to home plate, even if the stadium was packed.

That’s one of the greatest losses of 2020: We didn’t get to hear Kahnle’s rumbling voice cascading even louder across empty bleachers.

Kahnle’s departure was inevitable once he injured himself this summer, which is part of the reason why we can’t be doubly hurt by something we likely accepted months ago.

But without Kahnle — who fought back from adversity in 2018 to become an essential part of the roster once again the next season, a comeback within a comeback story — it will simply be less fun to be a Yankees fan.

And the bullpen, already made worse by his malady, will now have to find a permanent replacement for Kahnle’s ebullience, and not a temporary one.

By any metric, advanced or the eye test, this stings. As we knew it would.

And one of the final holdovers of the 2017 roster, when the “Yankees’ next dynasty” wasn’t a sarcastic proclamation but rather a full-of-hope North Star, has further closed an era that barely even began by bolting for the west coast and joining the team that did end their misery in 2020.

Unfortunately, this was just another year of chasing the mirage in the Bronx, capped off by formally losing the man whose initial loss started the whole process.