The New York Yankees need to rely on Gerrit Cole being elite in order to contend in 2022 and beyond, a proposition that feels like it’s on shaky ground right now only because of the immediate aftermath of the Wild Card Game.
The sudden disappearance of Spider Tack and other such sticky substances midseason felt worrisome when the news dropped. Not only did it seem to indicate an increased possibility of serious injury (it felled Tyler Glasnow quickly), but it also created an immediate, ready-made reactionary take from the pessimistic Yankee fan crowd. “Welp, Cole’s deal is a waste already!” they screamed, prepared to laser focus on every poor start for the next few months instead of all the great outings that surrounded them.
Of course, there were more poor starts than good ones down the stretch, leading to an all-time Wild Card flameout.
Cole was never the same after suffering a hamstring issue against the Blue Jays in early September, though the not-so-nuanced discourse doubtlessly blamed his command and control issues on ~the Tack~ in countless blanket statements and snooze-worthy takes about his ability to win in New York.
Regrettably, several Yankees mouthpieces seem aligned with the vision that Cole’s more problematic this offseason than he was last offseason — and some secretive members of the organization are ready to toss dirt on the deal they willingly signed.
One week after releasing to the world the news that Cole and Brett Gardner got in a Spider Tack-based prank war in the locker room, Bob Klapisch leaked the news that the Yankees and Cole have been a big part of finding a middle ground by innovating a more tacky baseball for the new CBA.
Within the report was, plain as day, the insinuation that Cole might just be “very good” without his beloved aid. That assertion no doubt came directly from some Yankee big wig who’s having buyer’s remorse.
Are the Yankees concerned about Gerrit Cole and Spider Tack?
Unpopular opinion from the guy who didn’t pay $324 million for his services, but maybe Cole’s star power doesn’t need to be “revived” quite as much as this article insinuates?
Any little bit of spin rate-increasing magic helps, and MLB coming to terms on a tackier ball will help everyone feel more confident and safer. It’ll also help prevent (knock on all kinds of wood) a long-term injury for Cole, removing the risk of overthrowing to account for the loss of tack.
Prior to the hamstring injury, though, the Yankees’ ace had already reinvented himself on the fly, posting Cy Young numbers for several months before a clear line of demarcation that changed his ability to function as effectively.
So, no, it wasn’t the early-summer reversal from the league office that torpedoed his year, no matter how well you remember that one Boston flop or the Mets game.
It’s fair to wonder whether Cole was worth $324 million because it’s fair to wonder if any pitcher is worth that much money, subjected to the sudden onset of a million complications. Pitching is always drastically less of a sure thing than offense, especially when the aging curve sets in.
The Yankees are an endlessly wealthy enterprise that still spends nowhere near the percentage of their income that they could be if they chose to operate at their peak capacity, though. If $324 million is what the industry demanded, they shouldn’t regret it for a second or let their past expenditures affect the immediate future — especially when that future aligns with Cole’s prime.
Tacky baseball? Yes, we approve. Could help. Snide comments leaked in the same report? Can’t get aligned with that from this extremely wealthy source.