New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, center, holds a sign he used as a young Yankees fan, as he is introduced as the baseball clubs newest player during a baseball media availability, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 in New York. He is joined by team owner Hal Steinbrenner, left, and his wife, Amy Cole.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A clean-shaven Gerrit Cole brings a special childhood memory to his introductory New York Yankees press conference. 

There’s Gerrit Cole’s face. We see it. More importantly, the New York Yankees’ white whale is now official, and he made sure to make his introductory press conference something to remember.

Not only did Cole show up clean-shaven, but he also brought along a special childhood memory that commemorates this very special occasion.

Cole brought the sign he used at the 2001 World Series some time ago when he was cheering on his favorite team as a youngster.

Is it the exact sign? Well, no; but come on, Cole passes his first test with an A for effort.

Cole, 29, recently signed the fourth-largest deal in MLB history, a whopping $324 million over nine years. The signing brings Yankees fans back to the days of the true Evil Empire that routinely featured dollars thrown at any and every name out there on the market.

This one, for so many fans and media members alike, feels a tad different.

Cole morphed into the best pitcher in the game down the stretch last season. In Pittsburgh, with the Pirates, the righty horse was once named an All-Star over five seasons, and represented a pretty nice top-of-the-rotation starter, but never inserted himself into the “best in the game” conversation.

That changed with the Houston Astros.

Cole captured the 2019 AL Pitching Title with a 2.50 ERA, won 20 games and struck out a ridiculous 326 batters in 212.1 innings pitched while leading the Astros to the AL pennant.

Only Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals and a Game 7 separated the Astros from their second title in three years and Cole from his first ring.

Of course, Cole helped his club knock off his new team, the Yankees, in the 2019 ALCS. The overwhelming thought that starting pitching is what held the Yanks back from a 2019 title.

While such a thought can be argued without pause, Cole’s presence at the top of the rotation certainly adds something the Bombers haven’t had in quite some time: a true ace.

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