Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Yankees [Print without images]

Friday, June 7, 2013
Cut the kid some slack

By Andrew Marchand

Ian Clarkin
Ian Clarkin has already learned to love the Yankees. His dad? Well ...
Matt Harvey grew up a die-hard Yankees fan. He would drive with his family from Mystic, Conn., to root on the Yankees, even making it to around half a dozen Subway Series games before anyone knew who he was.

Then he was drafted by the Mets, and he's having the most sensational start to a Mets pitching career since Dwight Gooden. The Yankees angle to the story just makes it that much sweeter for Mets fans.

On Thursday, with the final pick of the first round, the Yankees took an 18-year-old left-handed starter named Ian Clarkin. He supposedly has the best curveball among any high school pitcher in the draft. But what Clarkin is already famous for are his prerecorded comments to MLB Network, comments which were played immediately after the selection.

Clarkin said his favorite player is Jonathan Papelbon, while his favorite baseball moment was when as a 6-year-old, he watched the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in the 2001 World Series.

"I cannot stand the Yankees, so I was actually in tears, I was so happy," Clarkin said.

Whoa! Not exactly preaching to the choir.

In a subsequent interview with MLB Network's Sam Ryan, Clarkin professed his love for the Yankees now. It sounded as if his dad may take some more convincing. Dad seems to be the root of the 6-year-old Ian being overjoyed when Luis Gonzalez's blooper fell.

"Now I do love them, and my dad’s going to have to learn to love them, too," Clarkin said after the anti-Yankee video ran on MLB Network. "They’re the most historic organization, and I am looking forward to it."

It seems possible -- though we don't know for certain -- that the Clarkin family roots for the Red Sox. The hatred of the Yankees combined with the love for Papelbon would make one presume that is possible.

If anyone out there is annoyed by Clarkin remarkin': Cut the kid some slack.

First off, the event he described happened when he was 6. Now, at just 18, he would have been wise to keep it to himself in the event he was drafted by the Yankees. But he is 18! I think he deserves a mulligan, no?

Plus, here is the bottom line. Clarkin, who has committed to his hometown University of San Diego, has a choice in this matter. He can sign with the Yankees or go to college. So the Yankees are going to have to use their money to convince him to sign. It probably won't matter if he roots for the Red Sox, Yankees or the Toledo Mud Hens.

In 2008, the Yankees selected Gerrit Cole with the 28th pick of the first round. Cole was considered the best pitching prospect in the country, but there were concerns he would not sign. The Yankees thought they could ink him. It didn't hurt that he was a Yankees fan. He spurned the Yankees anyway.

Cole went to UCLA and eventually was the No. 1 pick by the Pirates in the 2011 draft. He soon could be up, and the Yankees will watch him and think about what might have been.

So give Clarkin a break. Let him sign and work his way through the minors and one day -- if everything goes perfectly -- it might just be part of the legend of Ian Clarkin that the first words he ever uttered to the franchise's fans were, "I cannot stand the Yankees."