Remember the glorious old days when the most a baseball player had to worry about was an ankle sprain, a knee strain, a hamstring pull, a ligament tear, an oblique tweak? Remember, in other words, the glorious Yankees spring and summer of 2019?
Every week brought a fresh wave of visits to the injured list. Every week brought a fresh round of fresh faces and unfamiliar surnames to the lineup. Every now and again the Yankees would have to summon a replacement for a replacement and — bang! — like clockwork that sub would have a moment to inspire good, old-fashioned apoplexy from John Sterling up in the radio booth.
There was a game in mid-May, Angel Stadium at Anaheim, where DJ LeMahieu — 15 minutes after so much hand-wringing about where the Yankees would shoehorn him in the lineup — batted leadoff. Luke Voit — nobody’s idea of a second-place hitter — hit second. Brett Gardner, who has spent the bulk of his career hitting either first or ninth, hit third. Gleyber Torres, hitting cleanup, actually looked the part. The bottom five-ninths of the lineup read thusly:
5. Mike Ford (replaced after three at-bats — and one home run — by Gio Urshela).
6. Mike Tauchman.
7. Austin Romine.
8. Thairo Estrada.
9. Tyler Wade.
And the Yankees won, 5-4. Domingo German got the victory. Luis Cessa pitched a lockdown eighth. Zack Britton got the save.