In 2005, Todd Pratt completed yet another year as a Philadelphia Phillie.
In 2006, Todd Pratt filled in behind the plate as an Atlanta Brave.
In 2007, Todd Pratt has accepted an invitation to Spring Training with the New York Yankees.
Who will need a backup catcher in 2008? Al-Qaeda?
Tank isn't the first 2000 National League Champion Met to wander over the wrong end of the Triborough Bridge and into the arms of the erstwhile enemy. Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile, to name two Tankmates, did it a few years ago; it is to their everlasting Met credit that they never seemed to fully enjoy it. Al Leiter enjoyed it a bit too much but that doesn't count since he was one of them to begin with. Armando Benitez passed through there only long enough to cause angst and be booed. We're all hypocrites if we rush to anybody's aid or comfort in that transaction.
But Todd Pratt a Yankee? In this century, even aware that nobody stays in one place anymore — and that he hasn't played for us since the summer of 2001 — the thought of Todd Pratt as a Yankee is surprisingly jarring. Tank was such a Met in his day. Per capita, he was as much a Met as anyone in the Valentine Epoch. Tank seemed madder about Mike Piazza being beaned by Roger Clemens in the Twiborough disaster of July 8, 2000 than Mike did. Now Tank, about to turn 40, could conceivably catch Clemens, provided Tank makes the team and Clemens misses Andy Pettitte's regular regimen of atta boys and foot rubs enough to come out of retirement or suspended animation or whatever it is the Rocket is in presently.
We already spent a season trying to avert our eyes whenever Todd Pratt showed up in a Braves uniform. That followed four-plus years of not staring too closely when Tank rolled into Shea with Philadelphia. Never mind that he started his career with them. He became a Met to stay in 1997. He still elicited a warm round of applause almost every time up for five years because he was Tank the Met, the 51st Greatest Met of the First Forty Years, never to be forgotten for what he did to Matt Mantei one October 1999 weekend and what he did in concert with Ventura the October 1999 weekend after. Mostly he caddied and waved a towel and held down the bench, but after Game Four against Arizona and Game Five against Atlanta, did he have to do much more?
A Phillie. Then a Brave. Now, perhaps, a Yankee. Is this, Tank, really necessary?