We Will Miss You Didi
Dear Didi, Where do I even begin! I am not going to lie to you, after Derek Jeter retired it seemed as if there was no person capable of replacing him. Seeing the three-team trade to acquire you was underwhelming, to say the least. I hope you don't take offense to that (if by some miracle you are reading this), but let's be honesty you were young with a short track record that did not look super promising. However, to be fair, no one would have seemed like a good fit after Jeter left. How do you replace the face of baseball for 20 years? So Didi, let's dive into your career with the Yanks.
Didi did not get off on the right foot with Yankees fans. In his first month of play, Didi looked nervous. He was bobbling balls at shortstop, throwing souvenirs to the fans on his throws to first, and trying to fix all of that by swinging for the moon at the plate. Yankee fans began to grow uneasy... However, Didi did not let that that one month define him. Once May hit, Didi was a new man. He was hitting to all fields, fielding his position well, and showing off that laser beam he had for an arm that we would all soon grow accustomed to seeing even on routine plays. He finished the year hitting .265, with 9 home runs. I mean let's be honest here it's not like Derek Jeter was even producing that in his final years. The bottom line was Didi showed potential. Didi quickly became a fan favorite as time went on. His easy to say, two-syllable first name "Di-di" was easy for the bleacher creatures to scream at the top of their lungs in the top of the first every game. Didi could be 10 for his last 10 or 0 for his last 100 and he would still keep that same good ole' Didi Gregorius smile on his face at all times. He was likable! In his second year Didi improved, he upped his power numbers up to 20 home runs and improved his average to .276. Didi was making flashy plays in the field and doing his part at the plate, and as fans, we couldn't ask for too much more than that.
2017 is when Didi left his mark in Yankee's history. Not only did he put up great numbers hitting .287 with 25 bombs, but he had one of the greatest Yankee playoff moments in recent history. In the wild card game versus the Minnesota Twins, the Yankees were down 3-0 only after only half an inning as Luis Severino laid an egg in the top half. With two men on, one out, and Yankee fans everywhere ready to turn off the TV and scream into a pillow, Didi rocked one into right field to tie the game at three. When I say goosebumps, I mean goosebumps, Didi brought a whole stadium and a whole fanbase back to life with one swing. Didi went on to torture the Indians as well in the ALDS with multiple clutch hits leading the Yankees to the ALCS. Unfortunately for Didi, the rest of the team ,and Yankee fans they went onto get robbed by a bunch of low life, no-good, pathetic cheaters that had to rely on smashing trash cans to narrowly escape the Yanks in 7 games.
Didi in 2018 was an early MVP candidate as it seemed that no one could get him out for the first two months of the season. He later cooled down, but still went on to have a very nice year for the Yanks hitting .268 with 27 homers. There was no denying that his left-handed swing was built for Yankee Stadium. Even his first home run in his career came in the Bronx when he was a member of the Diamondbacks of Phil Hughes. 2019 Didi is the Didi I am going to chose NOT to remember him by. He was injured for half the year as was every other member of the 2019 Yankees. As the year went along and new faces started to fill in there was no rush for Didi to come back early. New guys were stepping up and it was a fun team to watch. The weird part was though, late in the year when Didi came back and ready to go, he was sort of the odd man out. DJ was a hitting machine, Urshela had proven too much not to play him, also defensively he was the Yankees best option, and what you are not going to bench rising star and future MVP candidate Gleyber Torres!? So where does that leave us? Didi got his share of ABs during the playoffs as the Yankees rotated. Even though he practically did nothing at the plate the whole playoff, his one hit was of course as clutch as it gets. He connected with a 1-2 fastball right down broadway for a Grand Salami to put the nails on the coffin of game 2 of the ALDS. And may I add, probably the weirdest, but most Didi thing ever was his leg swinging bat flip as he admired his nuke into the second deck.
I was a Didi Gregorius fan from the beginning. This was the case for multiple reasons, the main one being his swagger that he played with. Oh, but what about the "Yankee way", screw the Yankee way. Didi played his brand of baseball with his own personality. Didi played hard every game, he was entertaining whether he was swinging at pitches up near his eyes or showing off his arm in short left field making plays look easy. There are not many Yankees I was every able to say this about, but when he stepped to the plate every single time I had faith that he would get a hit. I know this is statistically impossible and downright wrong, but Didi was easy to root for. Didi brought character to a perennially boring Yankees franchise. Didi Gregorius was given one of the most terrible jobs in sports, replacing Derek Jeter, and oh man did he get the job done. I know 20 years from now many will just remember him as the stopgap between the end of Derek Jeter and the beginning of Gleyber Torres, but not me. I will remember Didi for what he stood for on the field, playing hard and having fun.more importantly I will remember all of the great memories he left for us as fans. I think I speak for all Yankee fans in wishing you good luck Didi in your new adventure with the Phillies, and please, keep being yourself...
We love you, Didi! - The Commish