Tuesday, January 17, 2017


While most Yankee fans look forward to 2017 as the first year of an exciting new future, don't blame purchasers of this year's official team wall calendar for feeling like the team is still trapped in its past now and then. 

Of the 12 players chosen to represent the months of the new year, four of them -- Brian McCann (March), Alex Rodriguez (April), Nathan Eovaldi (August) and Andrew Miller (October) -- are no longer with the team. 

(Sept. 7, 2016 - Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)    
Two others -- CC Sabathia (January) and Michael Pineda (May) -- will be playing out the final year of their Yankee contracts in 2017, and one -- Masahiro Tanaka (November) -- will almost certainly explore his options in free agency if he remains healthy... making all three potential trade deadline fodder depending on the team's fortunes come Independence Day or thereabouts. 

(June 7, 2016 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)
And of the calendar's remaining five pinups --  Brett Gardner (September), Jacoby Ellsbury (December), Starlin Castro (June) , Didi Gregorius (February) and Dellin Betances (July) -- only three of them, Didi, Starlin and Dellin, haven't been actively shopped around to other teams by the organization and are likely to play roles in the team's plans beyond this season.

Only 3 out of 12 with a probable future in pinstripes by the time the last page is turned. Think about that? This is no ordinary calendar. It's a hit list. By this time next year, it could potentially chronicle a higher body count than Shakespeare's Hamlet.

(Sept. 8, 2016 - Source: Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America)
I kid. I kid because I care. But truthfully, my initial thought upon seeing this oddity was disappointment. Why hasn't the organization shown more support for its youth movement?

Gary "El Kraken" Sanchez
Greg "The Word" Bird
Aaron "Here Come Da" Judge

They've already been anointed by the highest Hal-thority as mortal locks to make the 25-man roster this spring.  But then I got to thinking maybe there was something perhaps more technical behind this embarrassing glitch, so I did a little digging.

I noticed the calendars, which were made in China for Wisconsin-based The LANG Companies, a licensed merchandiser for many pro sports teams, include a disclaimer that read "All featured players are under contract at time of printing."  For that to be true, they would've had to be rolling off the printing presses in Asia as early as mid-July, prior to Miller's trade to the Indians when the Yankees were in the midst of their pre-trade deadline fire sale.  I thought that was a bit early in the baseball season's cycle to be printing a product reliant upon so many images of  ballplayers; commodities with notoriously fluid and mobile shelf lives. So I nosed around the company's website looking for some kind of explanation and learned that LANG was undergoing its own fire sale of sorts right when the Yankees were undergoing theirs.  So maybe this calendar glitch was just some kind of bureaucratic snafu and someone just skipped a step or missed a memo as the company transitioned from one owner to another. 

I also noticed that elsewhere on the calendar it declares: "BONUS! INCLUDES SEPTEMBER THROUGH DECEMBER 2016." So perhaps they were simply more interested in rushing them out excessively early to cash in on some big back-to-school calendar market rather than wait just a few weeks longer to increase the likelihood the "featured players" remained with the team the following year. In any event, there's really no way to know for sure how it happened.  

What I do know for sure is that on Sunday, April 2nd, as I'm watching our new DH Matt Holliday step into the batter's box Opening Day wearing Yankee pinstripes for the first time,  our old DH Alex Rodriguez will be hanging on my living room wall.

April may be a tough month for our new DH to measure up to the Hall of Famer I rooted for so long who my official team calendar insists is still our DH. 

Come to think of it, this calendar may prove to be an official distraction to my Yankee-watching all season. 

Perhaps it would look better in my den...

 --Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

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