Every New York Yankees game is a reason to glue yourself to the TV, but several matchups on the 2019 schedule are especially intriguing.
Before you get offended, know that I get it.
When I do get the chance to watch those fast-paced sports on TV, all the timeouts and commercial breaks drive me nuts.
It’s 2019; instant gratification isn’t even instant enough these days, and baseball is a nine-inning affair with a lot of time between pitches.
But that’s what’s great about baseball. It’s different; it’s the perfect combo of Zen and athletic prowess.
And for fans who hang on every pitch of the regular season like it’s the bottom of the ninth in the World Series, there are a few Easter eggs to keep an eye out for in the Yankees’ 2019 schedule.
James Paxton has history in Toronto
One intriguing matchup to watch for is a possible James Paxton start against the Blue Jays in Toronto.
The Canadian lefty’s last start in his home country went historically well. Pitching for the Seattle Mariners, he threw a no-hitter with three walks and seven Ks at Rogers Centre on May 8, 2018.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) May 9, 2018
The 30-year-old needed just 99 pitches and a little patriotic motivation to stifle the bats of Toronto—the team that drafted him 37th overall in 2009.
With 10 Bombers games scheduled in Toronto, there’s a pretty good chance Paxton takes the mound looking for a repeat performance.
However, Paxton is 3-1 with an unimpressive 4.01 ERA in his career on the Jays’ home turf. Don’t be too disappointed if he doesn’t toss the first Yankees no-hitter since David Cone’s perfect game in 1999.
The Bombers first series in Toronto is a three-game set on Jun. 4-6. They’ll cross the border again in August for a four-game series (Aug. 8-11) and then finish up with three games in the final month of the regular season (Sep. 13-15).
A Yankees family reunion with Minnesota
While I don’t wish them too much success against the Yankees—you know, like game-winning hits—it will be good to see these two again.
Tyler Austin will always have a place in Bombers fans’ hearts for charging the mound against the Boston Red Sox.
And don’t let Boston fans fool you with unflattering still shots of Austin “losing” his fight with then Sox reliever Joe Kelly.
The former Yankees’ first baseman clearly got tripped up, resulting in a Kelly cheap shot to the head. Like a boss, Austin immediately jumped up and counterattacked—but the crowd of players block what happened (obviously an ass-whipping for Kelly) from view.
The 27-year-old also is known for his part in the only back-to-back home runs for first MLB hits in league history (with Aaron Judge on Aug. 13, 2016).
Another former Yankees fan favorite, Torreyes, could also be with the Twins when they play the Bombers.
Torreyes did nothing but hit and provide TV-broadcast gold in the dugout during his time in New York. He played faux cameraman on the TOEnight show with Didi Gregorius, using comical fake equipment to interview Yankees after they hit home runs:
— Gary Phillips (@GaryHPhillips) September 28, 2017
The 26-year-old made the most of his time on the field, too, slashing .281/.308/.374 as a Yankee. That’s not bad for a utility infielder.
Minnesota visits the Bronx for a three-game tilt on May 3-5.
CC Sabathia may be NSFW against Tampa Bay
CC Sabathia has some unfinished business with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The hefty lefty will serve a five-game suspension to begin the final year of his career, thanks to his heroics on Sept. 27, 2018, in a game against the Rays.
Sabathia was ejected, but the bigger story was that he lost a $500,000 bonus in the process, since he was just two innings away from the 155 he needed for the incentive-based payout.
Although the Yankees paid him the bonus anyway, the 38-year-old obviously still remembers what happened.
His last words as he walked off the field were “That’s for you, B*tch,” directed at the Rays’ dugout. If you thought he had forgotten about the heat of that moment, think again.
TMZ recently reported that Sabathia inscribed 52 balls with the vulgar tidings he offered to the Rays’ dugout on that fateful day:
CC Sabathia Signs 'That's For You, B*tch' Balls, Immortalizes Famous Ejection https://t.co/MufGgkabRV
— TMZ (@TMZ) February 7, 2019
Tampa and the Yankees meet the usual 19 times allotted to divisional opponents, with all the games coming after Sabathia serves his suspension. You’ll certainly want to keep an eye on those contests to see if more drama unfolds.
Giancarlo Stanton’s deja vu
However, the two met up again in 2018, and Fiers somehow beaned Stanton yet again, this time on the upper arm. Stanton almost started a brawl, but homered off Fiers in his next bat instead, pointing at the pitcher as he crossed home plate:
Fiers is now a member of the Oakland A’s. The Yankees play the A’s six times in 2019, with three games in Oakland (Aug. 20-22) and three in the Bronx (Aug. 30-31, Sep. 1).
There’s no guarantee Fiers’ spot in the rotation comes up for any of those games. However, if he does take the hill against Stanton, every pitch will have the potential to trigger a nuclear explosion.
Zack Britton’s revenge on the birds
The Yankees open their season with three games against the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx. Although it won’t be the first time Zack Britton will face his former team (four games and 4.1 innings in 2018), it will be the first time he faces the O’s since his recent not-so-subtle Twitter slam on Baltimore:
Britton is still salty about Buck Showalter failing to bring him into the 2016 Wild Card game, which Baltimore lost to Toronto in extra innings.
For what it’s worth, the Mar. 28-30 series will also be the first time the lefty sinkerballer takes the mound for a regular-season game with the new spelling of his first name (“Zach” became “Zack” this offseason).
Probably the most that will happen is a cliché-filled love fest between Britton and Showalter in the media. Still, watch Britton closely in games against Baltimore to see if he plays with a little extra fire.
A rivalry across the pond
Every game between the Red Sox and Yankees is a prime-time affair. However, the two teams will play a pair of games in 2019 that will be extra special.
On Jun. 29-30 the MLB will showcase the classic rivalry with two games in London’s Olympic Stadium.
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) May 8, 2018
The game on the 30th (Sunday) will be at 10:10 EDT. If you’re watching on the East Coast in the US, that’s a rare chance to watch baseball over brunch.
The only problem with this series is that the Yankees will have three days off surrounding it. Three days without baseball is a bit much if you ask me.
In the end
Yankees fans have a lot to look forward to in 2019.
But it all starts on Feb. 23, when the Bombers open spring with a visit to the Red Sox training facility. A month of preparatory games later, the 162-contest slow dance through summer and into fall will commence.