When the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira just before Christmas to that epic eight-year, $180 million contract, they knew what they were getting: A consistent run producer, a wizard with the glove at first base, and an emotionless robot. Teixeira is the most polished client off the Scott Boras Assembly Line, a bland, family-friendly, efficient manufacturer of RBIs and empty platitudes. When you interview Teixeira, he is helpful, cordial, available, and so lacking in content he’s almost translucent. He will take the time to answer every question you have with a blank smile and a relentless string of classic baseball clichés. Scott Boras has programmed him well: He is more machine than man now.
Which was why his rare moment of actual emotion last night in the Yankees’ 12–3 win over the Rangers was so welcome. In the fourth inning, Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla hit Teixeira for the second time, and Teixeira, finally learning what it means to be human, screamed “fucking bullshit!” and threatened to charge the mound. (Threatening to charge the mound is a grand baseball tradition, in the same way you used to stand behind a friend on the playground and scream, “Good thing Tom’s holding me back, or I’d kick your ass!”) After the game, Teixeira said he had a history with Padilla — his former teammate from Texas — and “that is not the right way to play the game.” To show how angry he was, Teixeira bowled over Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus later in that inning, keeping the game alive for a Yankees rally that put the game out of reach. Teixeira smash!
Teixeira, a chilly, removed presence on the field during his awful April, was the recipient of many Yankee Stadium boos early on, but he’s slowly becoming the centerpiece of a surging, potentially dominant Yankee team. Teixeira is respected by his teammates, a steady solid presence, and, lest we forget, one helluva hitter. People aren’t forgetting Tino Martinez yet, but a key home run here, a vivid “fucking bullshit” display of “intensity” there, and Mark Teixeira might make himself a Yankee just yet. He has seven and a half more years to work on it, anyway.
And in case you didn’t notice, with the win last night, the Yankees now have the best record in the American League. That happened fast.