Yankees legend CC Sabathia spoke with Adam Weinrib of Yanks Go Yard courtesy of Pepsi Zero Sugar.
When every game’s a playoff game, it can be difficult for fans to handle the non-stop intensity.
Add in the fact that nearly every 2021 Yankees game of this magical midsummer run has felt like it’s come down to the last out (spoiler alert: most of them have), and managing your heart rate becomes nearly impossible.
Of course, every time the beats per minute stabilize, it’s 7:05 again and another taxing evening awaits.
Now, imagine you’re on the roster. For this year’s Yankees, the postseason has apparently expanded further, in a Rob Manfred dream scenario, all the way to mid-July, and CC Sabathia’s not necessarily concerned with adding motivation day in and day out. He’s just concerned with how this experienced group of guys is going to be able to sustain this.
“This group of guys, they don’t need a ‘players only’ meeting. They don’t need a big brother in there telling them to stay focused. They know what they need to do,” Sabathia told Yanks Go Yard prior to Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep of the Boston Red Sox.
“They know when they put on those pinstripes what the expectation is.”
Ex-Yankees ace CC Sabathia doesn’t think the 2021 Yankees need him.
A 22-9 second-half record and a 13-4 mark in a high-pressure August are both solid indicators that Sabathia is right.
However, to say he’s worry free about the current roster would be a misstep. It’s not the motivation he’s concerned with, but rather how plausible it is that day in, day out, for three full months, the same guys can bring the same ruckus without getting burned out too quickly.
“I just worry about them sustaining this level of play because now, from now until the World Series, they’re playing playoff games every night,” Sabathia continued. “Having that much intensity for three months is tough — for three weeks is tough. I’m just worried about them getting up every single day like that.”
Of course, Sabathia’s first line in the sand was Tuesday’s doubleheader against Boston (“They need to win both games,” he said, prophetically), a test which the team has already passed. But it doesn’t end Wednesday morning, and it can be equally difficult to regroup after a massive exhale like this one.
Speaking with Sabathia mid-playoff push often harkened back to the halcyon days of 2009, when he wasn’t yet an indelible part of Bronx culture, and a team accustomed to only winning hadn’t done so since the year 2000.
Everything about Sabathia’s first free-agent deal screams “championship” now, but of course, for much of the first half of that season, that team seemed like a bit of an overhyped jumble, too — until they all simultaneously locked in and flipped the script.
What you may not recall is that even Sabathia’s traditional warmup song, Notorious BIG’s “Big Poppa,” wasn’t locked in from Opening Day that year.
“I knew I wanted a cool song, a New York song, coming into the Bronx,” Sabathia said. “I knew Mo had his song, Andy had his song…Derek switched his song up all the time, we all helped him with his song.”
“For me, I wanted something iconic that represented me. I was searching that whole first half, and me and my wife went on a trip at the All-Star Break, and ‘Big Poppa’ kept coming on. Kept playing, kept playing. And I was like, ‘That’s my song.’ I played it my first start of the second half, had a great start, and just rolled with it after that.”
Those Yankees did keep rolling, posting a remarkable 52-22 second half. This team doesn’t quite have to match that mark, but with every day feeling like a sweat-filled Game 162, they just might.
But don’t check the locker room for Sabathia these days. He’s touring the country with his son Carsten on the elite high school baseball circuit (with Andruw Jones and his son), getting ready to choose colleges and berating umpires with his ex-teammate (that’s what he told us).
From his inspirational work with UpBeatNYC to his concern for the current roster, though, the power lefty’s never too far from the Boogie Down Bronx. Hopefully, we’ll all get to watch his ex-teammates on the national stage in the real October.