Why nine? Because even though I almost - almost - pity them right now, I still couldn't think of 10. Feel free to add yours in the comments . . .
Mariano Rivera: His gracious laughter when his contributions to the '04 championship were acknowledged on opening day the following season told me once and for all that he's an okay dude. I just wish he'd get old one of these seasons.
Johnny Damon: I second the spot-on sentiment of my buddy DD:
"He can switch uniforms like a turncoat, abandon his idiotic persona, and even homer twice against the hometown team. But I can't find a way to dislike Johnny Damon. He's a nice guy, a happy guy, and regardless of what he might do in pinstripes, after Oct. 17, 2004, he'll always be okay in my book."
Exactly. Initially, I loathed Damon for taking the Yankees' money, but as time as passed, I've become more appreciative of him and all he accomplished here. His grand slam in Game 7 off Javier Vazquez was the moment that made us believe that this time it was going to be different, dammit, and that's a lasting legacy. Damon plays for them now, but he'll always be one of ours. Plus, you know he wishes he had stayed.
Bobby Murcer: Everyone says nice things about people when they die. Here's what tells you the appreciation for Murcer was sincere: Everyone said kind things about him long before anyone knew he was sick.
Tim Raines: Despite his reckless youth, he built a Hall of Fame case in Montreal by doing a pretty accurate Rickey Henderson imitation. By the time he arrived in New York he was a respected, mature veteran who is credited to this day by Derek Jeter for teaching him how to carry himself like a professional. Despite this despicable transgression, I still admire him and hope Cooperstown calls.
Kevin Maas: The Yankees' version of Phil Plantier, a generation of Bronx Buttafuocos has stacks of his worthless rookie cards buried beneath a pile of grubby Zubaz pants in the back of a closet somewhere.
Willie Randolph: He always seemed too classy for the Bronx Zoo, and a Red Sox fan has to appreciate that he appeared to deliberately reduce his range by three or four steps on Yaz's 3,000th hit.
Dave Winfield: Loathed by Georgie Porgie, lived up to the Mr. May label, and grinned all the way to the bank (and eventually, Cooperstown). Similarities considered, it almost makes me wonder if Hank Steinbrenner has Howie Spira tailing A-Rod right now.
Joe Girardi: Mediocre ballplayer who kept Jorge Posada out of the lineup, mediocre manager who's keeping the Yankees out of the postseason. What's not to like?
As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
Not only did Stump preside over my favorite Yankees team ever, but he's also an old basketball crony of my dad's who was still refereeing high school hoops in Maine when I was playing in the late '80s. I think it's fair to say he was a better ref than he was a big league manager.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.