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Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Yankees, Unobstructed, April 11

I might like Nick Johnson a little too much.

"I think you've got a man-crush on Nick Johnson," my girlfriend recently said to me.

She's right.

The dude has turned walking into an absolute artform. Going into today's game, Johnson had just two hits on the season . . . and an on-base percentage (OBP) of .360. That's kinda outrageous. Two hits and six walks. It's just great to see a batter make pitchers pitch.

But there's more to Nick Johnson than his patience at the plate. The man is a walking, talking baseball-playing analogue. A cross between Babe Ruth and Private Pyle (from "Full Metal Jacket"). Seriously, look at that:

It's uncanny.

All this talk about man-crushes and doppelgangers is making me uncomfortable. How about something completely unrelated to Johnson.

Is it cool seeing speedy Yankees or what?

Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner are fun to watch. When they get on base — and at least this past week, that's been easy for them to do — they invariably distract pitchers. The two have combined for seven runs and five stolen bases. They both have OBPs of over .400. Not bad for two guys at the bottom of the lineup.

Whoa, I almost forgot to include what has become the obligatory Joba Chamberlain update.

I'm telling you, Joba's going to have competition

It started during last year's postseason. Young David Robertson was absolutely brilliant. He was the only Yankee pitcher not named Mariano to show up consistency during the '09 playoff run. Robertson hasn't allowed a run in 8.1 straight innings — through seven appearances — since Oct. 2, last year.

Going back even further, Robertson has given up only one earned run since Aug. 30.

It looks like Joba has the job right now, and in many ways he's earned it merely by putting up with the constant tinkering of his roles. But he has to watch his back.

NOTE: Make sure to check back every weekend for The Yankees, Unobstructed, BNN's weekly Yankees opinion column.

For more of Graham Kates' sports writing, check out his True/Slant blog "Coaches in the Crosshairs" (http://trueslant.com/grahamkates).


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