Goodbyes are never easy for me. As a matter of fact, I’m choking up as I write –
Sorry. This is hard. So. Very. Hard.
The Yankees have traded the dimple-cheeked Melky Cabrera to the Brewers for Sabathia BFF Mike Cameron, which means that “The Melkman,” as he is affectionately known throughout the Yankees Universe, will deliver no longer. I’m not going to pretend that I was one of those people who loved Melky. I cared about him deeply, but I was not in love with him, if you know what I mean. He had his moments and I will try to memorialize them here, but he also had his faults. He didn’t hit very well. He slid into first base repeatedly even though he was told not to. And he often wore boxes of sunflower seeds on his head.
Still, he was a Yankees farmhand who made it all the way to the big club, and I will miss him and the little dance he did to the delight of his teammates.
It was Jeter who nicknamed him “Leche,” which is Spanish for milk, which is English for cow juice.
Signed by the Yankees at age 17, the Dominican-born Melky made his major league debut on July 7th, 2005 in left field. He was incredibly excited, especially after A-Rod took him shopping and bought him his first designer suit.
A mere week later, however, fate turned against him. During a game against the Red Sox at Fenway, he misplayed a fly ball hit by this man.
A mortifying inside-the-park homer resulted, not to mention an even more mortifying 17-1 Yankees loss, and Melky was shuttled back to Triple A, then Double A. Very discouraging.
In 2006, he was promoted again, this time making an outstanding leaping catch in yet another contest against Boston, robbing Manny of a homer
and inspiring a fist-bump from Damon.
The same year he not only had his first 5-RBI game and hit his first career grand slam, but also smacked his first walk-off homer, which gave the Yankees an 11th inning victory against the Mariners.
Life was good for Leche. He celebrated the Yankees’ division title with his BFF Cano.
The two lived in the same New Jersey high-rise building and frequently partied together…and went out for rice and beans together…and signed autographs together.
In 2007, Melky took over the center field job from Damon and led the league in outfield assists. But in ’08, he was, well, bad. He was demoted to Triple A. The romance was over between the Yankees and Melky.
And now this trade. (Mike Cameron? Really, Cashman?) I won’t miss Melky’s tendency to hit nubbers in key situations. But I will miss the dimples. And the dancing. And the sense of whimsy and wonder.
Oh, Leche. I wish you the very best in Milwaukee. It’ll be an adjustment for you, sure. You’ll be lost without Cano and you’ll be faced with weather like this.
But you’ll be O.K. You’ll charm your way into the hearts of Brewers fans, you’ll see.
So. It’s time for that goodbye.
Let us all bid you farewell, from every corner of the Yankees Universe.