Questions of legacy and rank are usually reserved for after that player has played for the team in question. But make no mistake about it; the amount that C.C. Sabathia has accomplished in his short time in pinstripes is worth taking a closer look at. After going the distance in last nights series clinching win over the Orioles (some columnist for this publication said they didn’t trust C.C. in a spot like that. Don’t know who though…) he was shown that he is by far the most reliable option the Yankees have. That’s right folks, despite what Stephan A. Smith will say the Yankees did not win because Alex Rodriguez was benched. No C.C. Sabathia, no ALCS for the Yankees.
What transpired in the ALDS and we expected to happen were two very different things. The Yankees averaged a little more than 3 runs a game. If you told me that Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson would fail to reach the Mendoza line and the Yankees wouldn’t even score four runs a game I would tell you that the series wouldn’t go four games. It was on the shoulders of the very thing Yankees fans felt the least confidant in that they were carried into the ALCS.
Yankees legends are born, raised, and cultivated in October. The fact that C.C. Sabathia has averaged over 18 wins a season and over 200 strikeouts is nice. The fact that he may be the next 300 game winner is a footnote. He has one loss in the postseason. This is the endearing characteristic that is fueling the idea that even after only four seasons C.C. Sabathia could be entering the pantheon of Yankee pitching greats.
It may be entirely too early to entertain the idea of who is the greatest Yankee pitcher of all time. You can crunch numbers all you want and come up with a variety of conclusions. Here is what I watched with my two eyes: C.C. Sabathia is not just a pitcher who has an over powering fastball and incredible breaking stuff, he is a gamer. Gamer is a grossly, and I do mean grossly, overused sports cliché. Everyone from Joe Montana to Sebastian Telfair has been called a gamer at some point in their career, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t apply to C.C. Sabathia, a pitcher who struggled through two stints on the DL and doubt if he could withstand the October pressure (again, blame the mean columnist). He pitched 17 and 2/3 innings in two starts. That is absurd. Joe Girardi has the freshest bullpen of the four teams left because for two of the five games they all got a day off. Bullpen management becomes essential in the postseason, and there is no better tool than a guy like C.C. Sabathia.
The greats in Yankee pitching all possess the same intangible qualities that C.C. Sabathia has. You couldn’t beat Whitey Ford in the World Series; Red Ruffing was the exact same, even Sabathia’s teammate Andy Pettitte can lay claim to the Yankees Mount Rushmore of pitchers based on his October dominance. Here is what I will say about C.C. Sabathia: I saw the entire 2009 postseason when C.C. went on short rest for every start, and I saw last night’s ALDS performance. You can tell me Whitey Ford was better because he amassed better numbers, you can tell me that you would rather have Andy Pettitte on the hill in a big game. I am willing to wager that by the time C.C. Sabathia is done in the Bronx there will be no debate about who the best in Yankee history is. We’ve already seen enough to know that.