LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Giancarlo Stanton is going to be just fine wearing pinstripes in the world’s biggest media market playing for the planet’s most famous baseball team.
Know why? The exit velocity from the hits he put on the Marlins during Monday’s news conference.
Stanton has smoked some of the hardest-struck balls to ever light up Statcast, but those were nothing compared to the artillery shots with which he hammered Derek Jeter’s franchise.
Rather than utter the usual diplomatic pleasantries on his way out the door, Stanton referred to his stay with the Marlins as “unprofessional circus times” on Instagram, then boldly retold the story of calling their bluff when the front office tried to pressure him into accepting a trade to the Giants or Cardinals.
Their threat? Waive the no-trade to those places or we keep you a Marlin for the next decade.
Stanton didn’t blink.
“You can’t say that and expect me to jump at what’s there if that’s not the right situation for me,” he said. “So it doesn’t matter what the dynamic was. You’re not going to force me to do anything, regardless of what the situation is.”
We quickly got the impression that Stanton isn’t someone who scares easily. He’s also not stupid. He knew full well that the Marlins were desperate to unload the $295 million left on his original 13-year, $325-million contract. And once he gave them a new list, one that included the Yankees, he found himself standing on a stage, holding up his No. 27 pinstriped jersey, roughly 72 hours later.
He didn’t seem spooked by the spotlight. Stanton appeared fine while talking to the battalion of national media and even seemed to enjoy it at times.
After earning a shady reputation for ducking reporters in Miami and being prickly when he did stick around, maybe Stanton was ready for a fresh start. Or maybe he was just plain unhappy during his frustrating stay in South Florida. Losing can do that to a player.
“You’ve seen what’s gone on down there,” Stanton said. “It’s a different direction every spring training. You’ve got to learn something new. Every spring, a different manager.”
He didn’t shy away from taking parting shots at a franchise he clearly believes is heading in the wrong direction. Maybe sensing what was coming, Jeter tried to pre-empt Stanton’s assault with a conference call of his own — the Marlins’ CEO chose not to make the drive down I-4 to Disney from his Tampa estate — but there’s no amount of spin that can undo the damage of dumping the reigning National League MVP.
“We are trying to fix something that is broken,” Jeter said.
Stanton’s crime? He cost too much. But that didn’t bother his new team, with Hal Steinbrenner saying they “were all over it” once Stanton declared he’d accept a deal to the Yankees.
That’s another reason this should work. It’s not as if Stanton was shipped to the Bronx against his will, or made the decision based on where he grew up or a preference for the weather. Stanton based his choice on his chance to win with the Yankees, and he sounded believable enough.
Regardless of where he wound up, he was getting every penny of his $295 million, so money wasn’t a factor — and he’ll pay more in taxes to be a Yankee. Perhaps his first choice was to return home to the Los Angeles area — the Dodgers weren’t as receptive to taking on as much cash — but you don’t sign off on going to the Bronx unless you’re mentally prepared to accept everything that comes with it. And Stanton was well versed on the situation he’s diving into.
This wasn’t a New York choice, or some affinity for Manhattan living. It was the Yankees. Raised in Southern California, Stanton was asked what attracted him to the Big Apple.
“The team,” he said. “The dynamic of they strike from everywhere, and they’re well balanced, and they’re hungry. The city’s been waiting for another World Series and a playoff run, and they got close enough this year. But hopefully, with my addition, we’re going to advance and be better, a better team.”
As Stanton pointed out, it’s still baseball. In forcing his way out of Miami, he now has to back up that bravado. That’s good for the Yankees. And based on Monday’s no-holds-barred performance, he is off to a promising start.