In his ill-conceived, two-plus year Yankee career, Kyle Farnsworth was the ultimate enigma. The 6’4”, 240lb right hander would enter the game with a 99mph fastball and menacing glare, but ultimately get beat by pitching around the strike zone and then hanging a slider. Even more frustrating, he proved to be a fragile creature, seldom able to make an appearance on consecutive days.
In spite of his inconsistent and underwhelming performance, there was one thing that endeared Farnsworth to Yankee fans: his toughness. Even though he rarely exhibited it on the field, Krazy Kyle had developed a reputation as an enforcer….just ask Paul Wilson and Jeremy Affeldt. So, even though he wasn’t the guy you wanted on the mound with the tying run on base, he was the guy you wanted in the bullpen when the benches cleared.
Well, it turns out that impression is shared by Farnsworth’s baseball peers. In an upcoming article for ESPN The Magazine, Farnsworth was identified as “the last guy you’d want to run into during a bench-clearing brawl”. Farnsworth finished ahead of the likes of Carlos Zambrano, Prince Fielder, Elijah Dukes and Miguel Olivo.
The article goes on to recount all of Farnsworth’s on-field exploits as well as his martial arts background, but what really stands out is the impression that his toughness isn’t the product of anger, but loyalty. When Farnsworth was traded from the Yankees during the 2008 season, he broke down and cried. His reaction completely took me by surprise. It seemed rather odd that one with such a reputation for toughness could also be so sensitive. Now, however, it makes perfect sense.