Beloved ex-Yankees pitcher gets fans' brains spinning with New York sports cameo

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

Technically, the Brooklyn Nets considered a "New York" sports team. Yes, Brooklyn is in New York, but it still feels as if the Barclays Center is simply borrowing a New Jersey basketball team in between Drake concerts.

But ... hey, the YES Network carries both the Nets and Yankees, so it's only natural to wonder if some old Yankee ties brought (drumroll please) Masahiro Tanaka and his lovely wife to town to watch the Nets take on ... well, we're not sure.

The post went up Thursday and the Nets played the Bucks (and kind of, sort of tanked the game) on Wednesday. Could Tanaka have been in town this week? Might this have been an old photo from sometime around the Yoshinobu Yamamoto meeting? Has Tanaka been in town meeting anyone else, perhaps? Maybe selling a different Japanese pitcher on the team's culture, amid Brian Cashman's search for pitching?

His caption? "NY was fun again this year," featuring a Statue of Liberty emoji. Could it be ... fun for the whole year, perhaps?

What was former Yankees star Masahiro Tanaka doing at Barclays Center?

Tanaka, who's still wearing a Yankees jacket in his Instagram profile picture, was very much not discarded by the organization on his way out (contrary to the belief of many of our rival fans). He left New York at a natural end point at the age of 32 and, instead of fleeing to another MLB city, went back to Japan to pitch for the Rakuten Golden Eagles once more. He was a victim of the Yankees' luxury tax maneuvering, and they chose Corey Kluber, a move that looks bad in retrospect, but it doesn't appear there was much ill will involved.

While he battled a partial UCL tear almost immediately upon arriving to the states, he still managed to become a solid No. 2/3 starter and a playoff stalwart for the modern Yankees. He took a massive paycut on a one-year deal with Rakuten last winter, humbly valuing himself in the wake of a difficult season. He went 13-21 from 2021-22 (albeit with a solid ERA and control numbers), and his future appears to be hanging in the balance a bit once more.

Any chance he got one more visit with the Cole family in during his time in New York this winter? Could really use him on a one-way plane ticket. Just saying.