How did I miss this? It seemed that the Nationals had sewn up Esteban Loaiza for a few years, so I’d stopped checking his status on the Free Agent Tracker. Billy Beane must have come across some extra stuffing in his turkey, since he invited Loaiza home to Oakland for Thanksgiving on a $21 million one-way ticket through 2008.
How do I feel about this? Resigned to several more seasons of overpriced acquisitions and overzealous housecleaning by GM Brian Cashman, seasons that will be managed by the increasingly dyspeptic Joe Torre, both of whom were recently re-signed. (Did you ever reach for the remote to reset the color quality, only to realize that it was Joe’s complexion that had made your walls glow sallow during one of those endless close-ups? I wish him well, but if the directors are going to use his enigmatic Mona Lisa smile/grimace to lend visual pep to the deceptively static quality of a baseball game, they might as well send him to make-up and give him a SAG card. No one told him he had to emote. That was Mel’s job. By the way, has Mel separated himself yet? Last I heard, he was going to have a look at spring training after all, and would check-in on Ron Guidry. Odds are he won’t find it easy to stay away.)
You do know that Loaiza was in pinstripes for part of that archetypally painful season of 2004. Loaiza for Contreras. I couldn’t believe our luck. (No, we weren’t wrong about Contreras. Remember? George sent the yacht down to Cuba, rescued his family, and he finally won a game? While we were ahead, BOOM, GONE. It was brilliant. Besides, did you ever wonder if Contreras was El Duque’s revenge? His opinion was sought, long-distance.)
As I was saying, remember how Loaiza found his New York self, won his 100th game, helped us get to, and through, that archetypally painful postseason,…how on that last night l for once bolted out of work early, way out by the terminus of the #2 subway…how I met Loaiza’s cousin on the Franklin Avenue platform while waiting to transfer to the uptown #4 in time to catch a few innings at the Stadium. (Well, really at Stan’s, though his cousin did try to get Floraine and me a seat.) It all seemed so possible, and this time we wouldn’t let the Series get away. At last, finally, no, NO ONE would put Loaiza into the game, despite his stellar big-game performance out of the bullpen earlier that series. Oh, no, I won’t go there. Not now.
On the bright side, the Yankees play Oakland at home for 6 of the 9 scheduled games, on weekends, and I’ll finally get to see him play at the Stadium, even if it is in the wrong uniform (He does look better with his goatee, which he couldn’t sport as a Yankee) (Last year at Shea was fun, even if he did almost error himself out of a W. More about that night can be found here) Home Series 1: Friday May 12 at 7:05, Saturday May 13 at 1:05, and Sunday May 14 at 1:05. Home Series 2: Friday June 9 at 7:05, Saturday June 10 at 1:20 (note time), and Sunday June 11 at 1:05. We also play our season-opening series in Oakland for 3 nights starting Tuesday April 3 10:05. All times are ET.