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Why the New York Yankees Will Miss Nick Swisher in 2013

Outfielder Had His Postseason Struggles but Made the Game Fun

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Why the New York Yankees Will Miss Nick Swisher in 2013
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Nick Swisher seemed to always have a smile on his face during his four years with the New York Yankees. …

COMMENTARY | After watching the New York Yankees stumble out of the gates with an 8-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox on opening day Monday, April 1, I was struck by something I didn't expect.

The Yankees are a lot less fun to watch without Nick Swisher around.

Swisher, the veteran outfielder-first baseman, was never seriously pursued as a free agent last winter by the Yankees and signed with the Cleveland Indians after a four-year stint in the Bronx.

As a player, Swisher is one of those guys who is good, but not great. He's never going to have to worry about which cap he will wear on his plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

But Swisher is one of those solid, dependable major-league players who puts up decent numbers year after year.

More important, though, is that Swisher genuinely seems to enjoy what he's doing out there. There is never any question about whether or not Nick Swisher has fun living the life of a big leaguer.

On the field, Swisher was consistent as a Yankee. In four seasons, Swisher hit .268/.367/.483 and averaged 26 homers and 87 RBIs a season, with 83 runs scored. He never hit more than 29 home runs in a single season in the Bronx, but he also never hit fewer than 23. He never drove in more than 93 runs in a season, but he also never produced fewer than 82.

Solid, consistent and dependable, that was Nick Swisher.

Did Swisher strike out too much? He averaged 133 whiffs a season so, yeah, he probably did. Did Swisher struggle in the postseason? Do ducks swim?

In 36 postseason games as a Yankee, Swisher hit just .162 (21-for-130). He produced four homers and seven RBIs ... total. But at least he struck out 38 times, so he had that going for him.

But he became a fan favorite in the Bronx, at least until the end of his tenure after he criticized fans who booed him during the American League Championship Series last fall, because he played hard and he had fun.

Watching the Yankees against the Red Sox on Monday was akin to watching a group of accountants head to the office. Sure, they looked professional and all that, but it didn't seem like anyone was having a lot of fun out there, and that was before the game got out of hand.

The team had the same energy and fire that one would expect to find at a dentistry convention or among a group of stamp collectors.

I'm generally not a big fan of the rah-rah stuff myself, if for no other reason than so much of it appears to be contrived (yes, I'm looking at you, Ray Lewis). But Swisher's antics never felt forced. Rather, they just seemed like the stuff coming from a guy who absolutely loved doing what he was doing.

Every ballclub can use a guy like that, if for no other reason than to prevent the other players from taking themselves too seriously.

After all, as Tom Selleck's delightful Jack Elliot theorized in the 1990s film "Mr. Baseball," "Baseball's a game and games are supposed to be fun."

Nick Swisher never lost sight of that.

Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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