The Yankees’ Nick Swisher – A Fan Favorite

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 9/9/10

This past July, Nick Swisher, the happy-go-lucky outfielder for the New York Yankees, was both happy and lucky to have the opportunity to represent the American League in the All-Star Game.

Voted in by the fans, he beat out Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox in a separate vote for the final spot on the AL roster.  The honor was as much a testament to his ability on the baseball field, as it was to his overwhelming popularity among the Yankees faithful.

Nick Swisher Hand Signed Photo

In just two seasons with the Yankees,Nick Swisher has achieved “fan-favorite” status.  His #33 uniform is prevalent in the stands each night at Yankee Stadium as thousands look to honor the ever-smiling right fielder from Columbus, OH.

It’s perhaps fitting that Swisher was voted in by the fans who adore him.  He has truly become a “man of the people” in the Bronx, executing a “Swisher Salute” for his supporters each night during roll call.  His personality is infectious and his passion for the game he plays is very evident – two traits fans find very appealing.

In addition, his on-field contributions and stats have been eerily consistent over the last two seasons too.  On September 8, 2009, Swisher hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Rays 3-2.  Then, this past week, on the one-year anniversary of that dramatic moment, Swisher did it again, smashing another walk-off home run, again in the bottom of the ninth, to defeat the Orioles by the same score – 3-2.  Both home runs were capped off with a face full of pie, courtesy of A.J. Burnett.

Although Nick Swisher struggled in the 2009 post season, his efforts throughout the regular season, and his ability to keep the clubhouse relaxed, yet focused, were instrumental in the team’s World Series Championship run.

An achievement Swisher would be both happy, and lucky to duplicate in 2010.

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A Team Effort, Swisher Enjoys Being a Champion

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 11/10/09

“It’s one of the coolest things…being called a champ,” said the newly crowned Nick Swisher.  “You can’t ever take that away.”

No matter what path his career takes from here, he will forever be a World Champion.  According to Swisher, it is an honor he would not be enjoying without the efforts and contributions of every man to wear the pinstripes in 2009.

Following My Interview with Swisher

“For ten months straight, you work as a team to accomplish great things,” he said.  “This season, we all had the right mindset, and the right group of guys working together.  That’s why we were able to win the whole thing.”

Just hours removed from capturing the 2009 World SeriesTitle, Swisher found himself inside the Steiner SportsCorporate Offices commemorating the achievement.  Along with other members of the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees, Swisher was there, adding his signature to team signed World Series baseballsphotos, jerseys, bats and helmets.

Swisher marveled at the new product line, referring to select pieces as “bad-ass,” and even requesting some photos for his personal collection.  Feeling nostalgic throughout the signing, he was eager to discuss his first season in the Bronx and the important role team chemistry played in the Championship run.

In 2009, the Yankees made key additions to their roster, bringing in players to round out an already potent group.  Coming to New York, where the team’s objective from day one always includes a parade down the Canyon of Heroes, can be intimidating for many.  Over the last eight title-less seasons, many have come and gone with little success.  The 2009 club was different though.

“This wasn’t about myself, or CC [Sabathia], or AJ [Burnett],” said Swisher.  “This was about everyone.  We needed the whole team on the same page and we all were able to bond together.”

The foundation of their close-knit group can be traced back to February 23, 2009.  That’s when the club united during a much publicized spring training field trip to the pool hall.

“At the time, we had a lot of work to do,” said Swisher.  “We had a season to get ready for and then Skip [Manager Joe Girardi] comes in and tells us to drop everything, we’re going to play pool for the day.  It was big for us.  Everyone bought into it, we had a great time, and we were able to carry that onto the field.”

That’s where the Yankees won an MLB best 103 ball games, including a dominant 57-24 mark within the confines of their new home in the Bronx.  Their success was the perfect blend of old and new.  Though the integration of new personalities like Swisher, Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira was important, according the Swisher, a lot of the harmony can be attributed to members of the old guard.

“It’s the big four, [Jorge] Posada, [Derek] Jeter, [Andy] Pettitte, and [Mariano] Rivera,” he said.  “They are who the Yankees are.  They represent the team extremely well and are real leaders.  None of them came up to us new guys and said, ‘this is how we do things.’  It’s unspoken.  We all followed their lead and learned from them.”

The Yankees enter this offseason with a few issues to address.  Questions about the futures of Johnny Damon, Andy Pettitte, and World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui all loom.  The core of this roster will remain intact for 2010 when the Yankees try to defend their title – a challenge Swisher is already anxious to take on.

“I can’t wait to go back to war with these guys.”

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Yankees Formula for Success is Easy as Pie

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 10/14/09

The swagger is back in the Bronx.

As the New York Yankees prepare for their American League Championship Series with the Los Angeles Angels, it’s clear, there’s something different about this team.  In the eight seasons immediately following their Subway Series victory in 2000, the New York Yankees morphed into a collection of highly-paid, corporate superstars.  Team chemistry was weak.  Anxiety levels were high.  These days, the Yankees are wearing their ties a little looser and having a little more fun at the ball park.

So what changed?  That’s easy…easy as pie.

Nick Swisher Enjoys a Little Pie

In 2009, the most traditional team in all of sports established a new ritual – a good, old fashioned, pie to the face – courtesy of AJ’s Bakery, Co. All pies were hand delivered by Pitcher, AJ Burnett, on cue, to any player to notch a walk-off hit in the Bronx.

Early on, critics scoffed at the amateurish celebration tactic adopted by the business-like Yankees.  Many argued that such a childish act seemed out of place among these men in pinstriped suits, claiming it was not “Yankee-like.”  As irony would have it, a little silliness was exactly what this team needed.

Unlike so many other Yankees teams that have come before them, the 2009 club seems more relaxed, and free from all the stress that comes along with the yearly “World Series victory or bust” mentality.  The additions of free-spirits like Burnett and Nick Swisher have served as the perfect compliment to the older, more business-like core of Derek JeterMariano RiveraAndy Pettitte and Jorge Posada.

Initially, there was some question as to how a member of that “old guard” would react when greeted with a face full of whipped cream.  That was answered on July 4, 2009 when Posada stole the game from the Blue Jays with a walk off single in the 12th inning.  Like clockwork, the catcher’s postgame interview turned into a pie eating contest, much to the delight of on looking fans.

Each walk-off pie – there have been 16 of them so far, including Mark Teixeira’s ALDS Game 2 pastry punch – has served as much more than a show of celebration.  It has developed camaraderie, calmed nerves, and tasted much sweeter than the humble pie they’ve been forced to eat in recent years.

Timely hitting, lights out pitching, and the addition of team-first players like Teixeira and CC Sabathia have all been major reasons this club has succeeded.  Most importantly, this team has been reminded that winning can be fun.  A little whipped cream is all it took to ease the tension of the daily New York baseball rigors.

The 2009 Yankees are all having a blast.  It seems as though this baseball machine is destined to return to glory.  The roster is a perfect blend of experienceyouth, and journeymen – all hungry for the same thing: a World Series title, and perhaps some pie for dessert.

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