At first glance, it was ugly.
A chilly, foggy and rainy December afternoon in New York. To top it off, the traffic en route to Yankee Stadium was no picnic. Yet despite all this, Brian McCann called it one of the best days of his life.
With a clean-shaven chin (and head) while surrounded by his wife, parents, brother, in-laws and two beautiful children, McCann was beaming upon being introduced to roughly 100 New York media members.
"To be a part of this organization, first and foremost, you know the history behind it, you know I have a passion for baseball and there is no better passion for the game than in the city of New York," he said. "So putting that jersey on was special for me."
Perhaps it was special to McCann. But to be honest, it looked a little strange -- the former Braves star and Atlanta native in pinstripes. It looked like a Photoshopped photo-op. He'll wear No. 34. Get used to it. His five-year, $85 million deal will allow the 29-year-old to get old in the Bronx while continuing his run as one of the best catchers in the game.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman said, "He's one of the game's better receivers, and certainly the biggest offensive catching bat in the game, so his profile fits perfectly for Yankee Stadium."
It's a perfect situation for the team and the player. McCann has a shot to join an elite group of catchers who have starred in the Big Apple. The Yankees' list of Hall of Fame backstops includes Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra, while Elston Howard, Thurman Munson and Jorge Posada played key roles on multiple World Series Championship teams. McCann is fully aware of that legacy in the Bronx.
"I know it's a great one, the tradition is unmatched," he said. "I hope that after my five or six years, that my name can be put in that same breath, so I am going to work hard to make sure that happens."
Entering 2014, McCann is the leader in home runs among active catchers with 176, despite playing all of his home games in spacious Turner Field. He's also run a streak of six consecutive seasons with at least 20 home runs. In all likelihood, his home run total will skyrocket playing in the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. The short porch in right field plays perfectly for a pull-hitting left-handed slugger.
"I've seen it, we came here in Interleague and played," he said. "I'm excited about it, playing in New York like this with my swing. It's going to allow me to let the ball travel a little bit deeper and see the ball longer, I think. When you play in Atlanta, for me, 390 [feet] is a long way to go, so this is going to be a treat for right field here."
Throw the designated hitter option into the equation and that will allow McCann to give his legs a break as the summer gets longer and hotter.
"I still feel like I am in the prime of my career," McCann said. "[To] play 150 games or 145, instead of 120 ... it gives me more at-bats, consistent at-bats.
"If you catch four games in a row, you can DH, catch four games, and you're playing nine games in a row, so that's very appealing to me."
McCann should be appealing to the fan base. He's a stand-up guy. A gamer. A leader and a player who will become a favorite for his willingness to fulfill his contract on and off the field.
He was off to flying start on Thursday.
More than an hour after his news conference had started, McCann was still doing interviews.
And still smiling.
Matt Yallof is the co-host of The Rundown on MLB Network from 2-4 p.m. ET. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less