Most teams have a player that is a fan favorite, usually for more than what he brings to the box score. This guy isn’t necessarily the biggest star or even the best player on the team; it is usually a player that fans can relate to.
As many New York Yankees fans prepared for the holidays, their favorite team lost one of those players. The man with the million dollar smile, Nick Swisher, will no longer be playing in pinstripes, which isn’t just disappointing from a baseball standpoint, but more because his departure leaves fans without that blue collar guy in the Evil Empire.
Swisher had a way he carried himself, he had a swagger, not a cocky one, but one that differed from the regular Yankees way. He was one of the guys who always made time for fans, especially the kids, and played the game like it should be; his heart carried him and is why he will always be a Yankee fan favorite.
Each and every day Swisher came to the ballpark and played the game like it could be his last, always giving a 100%, no matter what was going on in the game, he always had a smile. He seemed to realize that he was a grown man getting paid to play a game. Swisher may not have been the face on the front page of the media guide, and surely wasn’t the highest paid player on the roster, yet he had something special about him that will be missed by the Yankees and the fans.
After signing his contract with the Cleveland Indians, Swisher sent out a tweet thanking Yankee fans, letting them know how much they meant to him and how much he enjoyed playing in New York.
It is hard to leave money out of the discussion about why Swisher left the Yankees, but how can anyone be mad? He left the team when they didn’t offer him a realistic deal. With the new Yankee way, the team never really thought about bringing him back and Swisher had no choice but to move on. He realistically had one big contract left in his career and he took it because the Yankees are no longer in the business of making multi-year deals.
The Yankees will miss Swisher as much on the field as they will in their uptight club house–a clubhouse that is run more like a board room than a baseball team. Yankee players are like robots and seem less approachable, always walking the company line when it comes to any issue; at times they just seem fake. Swisher is funny and loose and that had to help many of the young guys on the team.
Even though Swisher played in the biggest media market in all of MLB, under consistent pressure to win a title, he found a way to have fun and enjoy the fact that he is living out his childhood dream.
Swisher also brought a lot to the team on the field. In 2012, his .272 BA along with his RBI’s were third best and he led the Yankees in walks. He played multiple positions, which helped on a team with many injuries; he also won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009 and went to the All-Star game in 2010.
Swisher may have been overpaid by the Indians, as so many others this offseason have been, but through a fans eyes, Swisher was the one guy on the team that many felt they could go hang out with; he didn’t have that larger than life feel, like so many of the players on the Yankees.
For those who love the Yankees, it is time for a fond farewell to a wonderful man and player, and unlike so many before him that have left the Bronx, there should be no hard feelings for Swisher and all the best wishes. As hard as it may be to see him go, this is one former Yankee fans should never stop cheering for. The Yankees will have many more outfielders in the years to come, but there will only ever be one Nick Swisher.
Swisher will leave as he came to the Bronx–with a smile on his face; unlike management, fans should treat him right by giving him a standing ovation when he comes back to New York for all he did for them and the team.