Officially, Christian Yelich finished the season with 36 bombs. But if you count the F-bombs that he helped way back in January, it was closer to 40.
The date was Jan. 25, to be exact. Milwaukee Brewers general manager David Stearns was in his office, waiting breathlessly for a phone call from Miami Marlins GM Mike Hill. The night before, Stearns and Hill had agreed in principle on a trade that would send Yelich to Milwaukee in exchange for four prospects. It was the kind of blockbuster that could make or break a franchise.
If Stearns’ inklings about Yelich — the former first-round draft pick whom he’d admired from afar ever since taking over in Cream City a couple of years earlier — were right, the deal could help catapult the club into the upper echelon of National League contenders. If the GM was wrong, it could cripple the Brewers, robbing them of a host of young, affordable talent and setting them back years.
In the wee hours of a winter morning on which he barely slept, Stearns had already managed to get approval from Brewers ownership. Although he was optimistic that Hill would be able to do the same from a Marlins group that was led by Derek Jeter and seemed intent on liquidating all assets, including Giancarlo Stanton, the damn phone wouldn’t ring. Until it did.
At about 10 a.m., Stearns finally received a call from Hill. The deal was a go. Stearns sprang up from his chair and stomped into the office of assistant GM Matt Arnold.
“We got him!” shouted Stearns.
Beside themselves with excitement and unsure of how to react that the chase was finally over, that they’d finally gotten their guy, the two execs just stood there. Then Arnold dropped an F-bomb and Stearns did the same. Arnold dropped another, and so did Stearns.
Just like that, Christian Yelich was unofficially on his way to joining the 40-bomb club.
Given Yelich’s resume, the level of excitement that Stearns showed on that morning was inordinate, to say the least. After all, Yelich was arguably the third best of the three outfielders that the Marlins let go during their fire sale last offseason. He certainly wasn’t in the same league as Stanton, the reigning National League MVP who was shipped to the New York Yankees (along with his $325 million contract) in early December. He wasn’t as accomplished …read more