Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tino Martinez Reincarnate: Mark Teixeira Has Bright Future in Pinstripes

Mainstream media and Yankees dissenters have made much ado about nothing with regards to Mark Teixeira’s slow start in Baltimore.

Some question his ability to embrace the spotlight of New York City after he seemed to be shaken by a boisterous Orioles fan base.

Others worry that his idolization of Yankees immortal Don Mattingly will create unfair comparisons between the two players; ones he will not live up to.

Does this story sound at all familiar to fans in New York and across baseball?

It should cause fans to recall a story about a special season in 1996 involving this same Yankees franchise and their newly acquired first baseman.

During a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Seattle Mariners in the league’s first ever ALDS, New York noticed a slick-fielding 1B in the opposing dugout.

The Yankees knew that Mattingly’s days in the Bronx were numbered, even after a heroic playoff performance.

How could they replace their captain and undeniable face of the franchise?

In December of 1995, the Yankees traded highly touted prospects Sterling Hitchcock and Russ Davis for Martinez, Jim Mecir, and quirky reliever Jeff Nelson.

Martinez experienced a wave of negative publicity in the midst of a horrendous start to the season. He was constantly compared to a Yankee hero, and the daily pressure was getting to him.

Through the first nine games of the 1996 season, Martinez was hitting .088 with 0 HR 0 RBI and a .118 slugging percentage.

We all know what happened next, as Martinez dove, scooped, and mashed his way into Yankees lore.

Perhaps his greatest moment in pinstripes occurred during the 1998 World Series. Martinez launched a grand slam into Yankee Stadium’s upper deck off Padres pitcher Mark Langston.

There can be many parallels constructed between the “rookie” seasons of Martinez and Teixeira in pinstripes.

Both were gold-glove caliber first basemen coming to New York at the age of 28. Each has an inescapable connection to legend Don Mattingly, who ultimately played their position.

Media personnel are scrambling to write stories about Teixeira’s 1-for-9 start, but he has a long way to go in order to amass Martinez’s 3-for-34 debut.

Teixeira and Martinez were also arriving after successful appearances in their first ever postseasons the year before.

Martinez posted 1 HR 5 RBI and a .360 OBP in 1995, while Teixeira had 7 hits 4 runs and a .550 OBP in his first series.

Teixeira is unquestionably the more highly skilled of the two players, but they posted similar statistics in the season prior to becoming a Yankee.

Martinez hit .293 with 31 HR and 111 RBI, and “Big Tex” produced .308 with 33 HR and 121 RBI.

While Teixeira has had a slightly disappointing start to his Yankee career, it is by no means time to compare him to chokers of the past.

He can handle the spotlight, and he will produce monster numbers by season’s end.

The absence of Alex Rodriguez may help to fuel the fire of his annually dreadful Aprils, but his bat will begin to smolder along with the “dog days of summer.”

Teixeira may be wearing No. 25, but do not confuse him with the 2007 version of Jason Giambi.


  1. Tex not only impressed offensively today, but he made some great defensive plays. I think he's going to bring so much to the team, most of all, consistency - something we haven't had since Tino/Donnie. Great game!

  2. Thanks for the comments Jane! Makes me look pretty good writing yesterday about how useful Swisher will be, and then today how well Teix should rebound.

    My timing was very very lucky before today's game...but it is better to be lucky than good right? haha. Hope to hear from you soon.

  3. Impressive post, and as much as I would like to see Tex fail, I have to agree. He is a career slow starter and never has posted huge numbers in April. He's the type of player that seems to have little problem acclimating to a new environment, judging by his performances both with the Braves and Angels over the past 2 years. He'll pick it up, and his presence in the lineup will only get stronger when A-rod returns. I suppose I can continue to hope A-rod isn't the same player after surgery haha

  4. Haha thanks the read and insight finally popped your Heartbeat of the Bronx cherry.

    Can't refute anything that you said, and I am convinced his career will be a consistent and successful one in pinstripes. You have every right to wish bad things on A-Rod, as he has earned many of the harsh commentary thrown his way.

    Talk to you soon big guy, and keep in touch. Tell Lester to pick it up by the way...he is killing my fantasy team.


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