Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mark Prior, Yankee

Mark Prior is one focused son of a gun. Literally. His parents are Smith & Wesson. I kid you not..
Mark Prior is a Yankee. Kind of. He signed a minor league contract with the Yankees, and he has a shot at earning a place in their bullpen. If he makes the big-league club, it will be the first time he has pitched in the majors since 2006. A lot of people have mocked and will continue to mock this signing as a worthless, desperate move for both parties. The Yankees lost out on the Cliff Lee spend-a-thon, and Mark Prior just wants to do more towel drills with Larry Rothschild.

Screw that. Mark Prior wants to pitch. He will pitch. The Yankees obviously think that's a very real possibility, which means you should too.

Somewhere along the way, Mark Prior got a reputation as being soft. Look at that man! That is not the face of someone who lacks toughness. Prior was always the portrait of determination when he pitched for the Cubs. He just got broadsided by the star of doom. I've pointed out before that his injuries were much more the product of freak happenstance than mechanics issues, and the nature of his descent from future Hall-of-Famer to president of the DL-for-Life Club is grossly misunderstood. Up until the end of 2006, almost none of Prior's missed time was due to arm trouble. About one or two missed starts worth.

Then came the shoulder trouble. Prior missed all of 2007, 2008, and 2009, but 2010 saw him pitch again. He pitched for the Orange County Flyers. He pitched (ever so briefly) in the Texas Rangers minor league system. He did so because he has been working, after surgery upon surgery, to get back into Major League Baseball, where he once dominated. If that's a punchline, I don't get the joke.

The last time Mark Prior stood atop a major-league mound, it was for the 96-loss Chicago Cubs. The next time he does it, it very well may be with the New York Friggin' Yankees. It could be as a teammate of Kerry Wood. Put 'em on the cover again, Sports Illustrated, I think Prior's seen the worst your curse had to offer. Here's hoping the best for him is yet to come.


  1. I will have to see Yellon's take on this. He has been one of the leaders blogging that Prior was soft and that many of his problems were in his head rather than actually being physical ailments. I hope Prior makes it back and does well. He doesn't deserve any of the animus that some Cub fans have directed toward him.

  2. Figures. The Prior-is-soft angle has absolutely no basis in fact, so I can see how it would be a popular argument among bloggers like that. Thanks for the comment!

  3. In July, Prior was mocked for trying to pitch again. In December, the Cubs are mocked for letting the Yankees sign him, while the Yankees are mocked for signing him at all. I like Mark Prior. I felt bad for him and the injury problems he had in Chicago. He got scorched by a liner to his pitching elbow, and people said he was injury-prone and soft. I hope he pitches again successfully. Heck, I hope he pitches again and dominates. But then I'll have to watch the Cub "fans" complain all over again about the Cubs letting him get away. I need a hug.

  4. Where did this "soft" reputation even come from? I just don't understand it. I also got some comments on my wall after posting the story that people couldn't cheer for Prior because he never worked hard or something to that effect, it really confused me because I thought he had been working as hard as he could to get healthy while still with the Cubs and then to even get back to a condition where the Rangers and Yankees would invite him to try out. I just don't get it.

    All that said, I wish him the best. As part of the best Cubs rotation in recent memory and the last NLCS team, you'd think he'd get more support and still have a special place in Cubs fans hearts. Maybe it's because I'm not from Chicago and don't understand how to be a true fan. *shrug*

  5. RC, I don't know for sure, but I think Steve Stone made some disparaging remarks about Prior's toughness. That's likely where it started. Fans tend to swallow whatever the broadcast team dishes out. Given the state of affairs in 2006 with the team horrendous and playing the role of pampered, whiny babies who managed to get the TV guys fired, it's no surprise that the anti-sentiment prevailed.

    I think part of it, too, is that people fail to distinguish Kerry Wood's injury problems from Mark Prior's. The two made up that dream tandem, so fans tended to blur their distinct arm issues into one collective mess. Kerry returned and Mark didn't, so Prior must be soft. I don't know, really, because there's no rational reason to think Prior was soft. If the problem was in his head, he just didn't care enough to pitch through the pain and earn a $150 million paycheck--there isn't a player in the world who would just laze his way through an opportunity like that without some sort of severe chemical dependence issue.

  6. I have found it is easier for people to spout off and repeat what they hear off the radio as gospel rather than doing the research themselves prior to forming their own opinion.

    Wanna try to go to one of the Yankees' interleague games at Wrigley if Z/Prior/Wood are still on their roster? I doubt it'll be cheap though.

  7. I imagine it'd be so expensive they'd have to discover a new element prior to naming that price level. Thank goodness for cable.

  8. This is one instance in which there's no reason the Cubs should be
    mocked. I don't blame them for letting him get away, because when they
    did, he was injured and had been for quite awhile. The timing for him
    sucked, because if he had been able to stay healthy just one more year,
    he probably would have been rewarded with well over $100 million. As it
    is, he's been nickel and diming it (so to speak; I wouldn't say no to
    $750,000) during a rehab effort.

    But, as you said, the people who should be mocked are the ones calling
    him injury prone and soft. But the Cubs are in the clear, pretty much. I
    think he'll complete this come back, but the Yankees are taking a chance
    on him, because it's anything but a sure thing.

  9. I'd love to, but yeah, I believe that's a plutonium level game where you
    have to pay $1,250 to sit in the top row behind a post.


Spill it.

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