In the interest of getting in the March Madness spirit, here's how the Yankees compare to teams in the tourney.
Mark Teixeira= Syracuse: Teix and 'Cuse both do everything well offensively, and can put up some overwhelming offensive totals. But it's the Orange's vicious 2-3 zone that sets them apart from other teams just like it's Teix's Hoover-like play at first that sets him apart from the other top first baggers in baseball.
Robinson Cano= Texas: Cano has all the tools: hitting for average, hitting for power, great arm, good range, decent speed, but still hasn't quite put it all together and has had the tendency to fade in big moments. Texas also has all the tools: Pittman inside, Damion James at the 4-spot, decent ball-handling, good shooting and athleticism on the wings. They got up to Number 1 in the country and then completely fell apart, melting under the spotlight that comes with being at the top of the heap.
Derek Jeter= Kansas: The best at what they do, and both possess the ability to do whatever they have to do to win. Jeter can turn a double play, smack a 3-run homer, or lay down a perfect sac bunt if that's what it takes. Kansas can run you off the floor with Sherron Collins in transition, drive and dish with guys like Xavier Henry against zones, or pound it inside to Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins. Just no weaknesses.
Alex Rodriguez= Kentucky: Less of a comparison of the playing styles and more a comparison of the scandal always following them both. Whether it's banging old celebrities, meeting with the Feds, or commissioning centaur paintings of himself, A-Rod always manages to find the spotlight in a bad way. John Calipari's recruiting history is littered with discretions (see: Marcus Camby or Derrick Rose), so it wouldn't be a surprise to find out in a year or 2 that somebody else took DeMarcus Cousins' SAT test or that John Wall was cruising around campus in an Escalade bought by a booster.
Jorge Posada= Cornell: Jorge is the unquestioned clubhouse veteran leader of the Yankees and is all business on the field, no flash. Doesn't wear batting gloves, doesn't use any new-age catching equipment, no home run trots. Just goes out, gets the job done, and wins games. Cornell is the same way; senior-led, mature and controlled on offense, and can shoot the lights out. They aren't going to pound their chests or get on SportsCenter's Top 10, but they will beat you.
Nick Swisher= Michigan St.: Swish's swing ain't pretty, his batting average ain't pretty, and some of the routes he takes in the outfield ain't pretty. But at the end of the day he's got 29 homers, 82 RBIs, and an above-average rating in right field. Michigan St. games are never going to be shown on ESPN Classic, most of them are of the 62-56-variety. But come tournament time, these kids know how to get it done, mostly because of Tom Izzo.
Curtis Granderson= Duke: Both Granderson and Duke are talented overall but with one fatal flaw. With Granderson it's been his inability to hit left-handed pitching throughout his career. For Duke it's big, athletic teams that can run them up and down the floor and expose their slow, whiteness. The difference is, I expect C-Grand to improve on his flaw this year; I can't say the same for the Dukies.
Brett Gardner= Siena: 2 undervalued commodities that don't get their due because they aren't big names. Gardner isn't going to wow you with his stat line but his speed helps create wins both on the basepaths and in the outfield. Siena is never on Big Monday or Super Tuesday, but they play the game the right way and are fundamentally strong in all aspects of the game, something that will help them sneak up on people in the tourney.
CC Sabathia= Kansas St.: A couple of Swiss Army knives. CC can still ratchet up the heat and blow hitters away, but he's learned to harness his off-speed stuff and is now just as happy to make you flail at the changeup or beat the inside slider into the ground for a double play ball. Kansas St. can use their guard combo of Pullen and Clemente to pick you apart on the perimeter or they can pound the ball inside to Curtis Kelly and company. Just a lot of ways to beat you and a lot of things to pay attention to if you're going to be successful against these guys.
Andy Pettitte= West Virginia: At this stage in his career, Andy is the West Virginia of pitchers: scrappy, tough, smart. He battles in every at-bat and gets the most out of the stuff he still has left, just like West Virginia, who can't shoot, aren't deep, and yet they still find ways to win through hard-nosed defense and flat-out toughness.
Mariano Rivera= the UConn Women's team: Simply the best.
Jonathan Albaladejo= the UConn Men's team: Simply the worst.
And just in case you haven't filled out your bracket yet in your office pools, here's the winning one:
Game 99: After Aroldis
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