Archive for the ‘Yankees’ Category

It Was the Age of Wisdom, It Was the Age of Foolishness

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

I have a lot of friends who aren’t baseball fans. Not one of them knows who owns the Red Sox or Cubs or Dodgers (granted, the Dodgers themselves aren’t too sure about that at the moment, but you get my point). But all of them know who George Steinbrenner is.

Or, I guess I should say, who he was. I was alerted to Steinbrenner’s death — long approaching, but still somehow sudden — by texts from several friends who couldn’t tell you what a cutter is or even, in some cases, how many innings there are in a game, but who saw the news about Steinbrenner and knew their Yankees-fan friend who was at work without steady internet access would want to know right away. Not many owners become household names (or end up on Seinfeld), but Steinbrenner’s force of personality set him apart and ensured that, no matter how much you might have wanted to, you could not ignore him.

In many ways Steinbrenner made it easy to be a Yankees fan, at least from my high school years on: all the money he spent on players, all the winning, all the World Series games. And he also — non-Yankees fans, bear with me — made it harder, because he could be such a bully, a felon, so tactless, embodying a number of traits which I personally didn’t wish to defend or associate myself with. Of course he had a better side, too, giving millions to charity and staying loyal to friends and some employees long after common sense required him to; but often I rolled my eyes at his silly statements to the media, or the horror stories that emerged of his treatment of underlings, and even at his spending. I loved that he was willing to invest his money back in the team, no matter what, but sometimes it was downright embarrassing, how much he outspent absolutely everyone else. I could defend it because it was allowed but I couldn’t pretend it seemed entirely fair.

On the other hand – the Yankees played in New York, so of course they had the most money, right? One of New York Magazine’s Steinbrenner posts had an excellent quote from The Boss:

“The first few years I was here, I didn’t thoroughly understand how mentally tough New Yorkers are. It’s a great trait in people… I used to get greatly hurt by some of the things that were written. But I don’t anymore. You learn to handle it. If the fans don’t think you’re striving to be the best in New York, they’ll gobble you up, and I don’t blame ‘em. An army travels on its stomach, and New York City travels on its heart and its love for the Yankees. We are New York. We are the biggest and the best, and we should be No. 1. And when you reward New York, it reaches out to you. It goes beyond what any other city can do.”

Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that New York “travels on its heart and its love for the Yankees.” Or that the Yankees “are New York” – that would eliminate many of my good friends, who, transplanted from other cities or rooting from the Mets, absolutely loathe the Yankees and would rather cut off certain fingers than ever clap for the Bombers. But never mind. That’s the ultimate New York quote, and the ultimate Yankees quote: “We are the biggest and the best, and we should be No. 1.” This is exactly what most New Yorkers think, and why so much of the rest of the country does not like New York — and even as I acknowledge how myopic and obnoxious the attitude is, well, I kind of think that way about New York too. Of course New York is the center of the universe – if not here, then where? Why should Kansas City even dream of beating New York at ANYTHING? So why wouldn’t we have the most money and the most championships? Isn’t it natural?

Except that it isn’t, really – see the Knicks, if you need an example, or the Jets or the Rangers for many years. New York may feel it deserves to win at everything, but the universe doesn’t always agree. And the thing is, Steinbrenner took winning as the Yankees’ birthright, but he didn’t just leave it at that: he gave nearly everything he had to make it happen. Sometimes too much, probably, and sometimes it was unfair, and unsporting, and distasteful. But whatever you might fault him for, he didn’t leave anything on the field.

It was hard to watch Steinbrenner in recent years, obviously seriously ailing and not entirely with it, and the Yankees refusing to acknowledge that fact openly. Maybe that’s what Steinbrenner wanted, I don’t know. But when someone on Twitter (I’ve forgotten who) compared the team’s persistent release of “statements from owner George Steinbrenner” to Weekend at Bernie’s, well, it wasn’t tactful but it didn’t seem too far off the mark to me, either. I was genuinely moved by Steinbrenner’s death, to a degree that really surprised me, actually, but I am glad not to have to watch any more of those moments.

I don’t know what to expect from Hank and Hal; whether they’ll carry on in a relatively quiet, businesslike way (well – that’s Hal carrying on, with Hank tied up in a safe house somewhere), or whether they’ll… gulp… sell the team, or who knows what.  Either way we won’t have George Steinbrenner to kick around anymore. He was wrong about a lot of things, but I think he understood New York pretty well – how tough it can be, and how great. He was determined to be on the right side of the city, and for the last 15 years of his life, although he took a ton of justified criticism along the way, he generally was. That was a hard-fought victory, and I hope it was a satisfying enough reward for all the entertainment we got out of watching him work.

AL East Preview

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I did an AL East preview for Perpetual Post; you can go there (and scroll down) to read the whole thing, but I thought I’d excerpt my Yankees section here:

NEW YORK YANKEES:

The veiling shadow that glowers in the East takes shape. The Yankees will suffer no rival. From the summit their eyes watch ceaselessly. But they are not so mighty yet that they are above fear. Doubt ever gnaws at them… the Yankees fear you – they fear what you may become. And so they will strike hard and fast at the world of men.

The power of the enemy is growing. They sense the Ring is close… you know this – you have foreseen it. In the gathering dark, the will of the Ring grows strong. It works hard now to find its way back into the hands of men – men, who are so easily seduced by its power. It is close now, so close to achieving its goal. For the Yankees will have dominion over all life on this Earth, even unto the ending of the world.

Also, look for a breakout year from Phil Hughes.

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Ranking the Yankees By Best Dog Name

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

… That would be the title (and purpose) of my new post at Bugs & Cranks. “Melky” is #1, of course, while “Chad” came in dead last. Terrible name for a dog, Chad.

If you only read one analysis of the 2009 Yankees, don’t make it this one. But if you read dozens of them, you might consider it.

This train of thought was sparked by Brian at Random House, whose own dog, Goose – as in Gossage – was once personally petted and complimented by Derek Jeter on the Upper East Side. My dog came with the name Pearl, and it suits her; but left to my own devices I might have come up with something a bit different, and quite possibly baseball-related. So it’s likely for the best that I didn’t get to make my own pick, or I might spend my mornings in Prospect Park calling for Bris Lord (“Human Eyeball, come! Come here, girl!”).

If something exciting doesn’t happen soon this offseason, I’ll do the Mets next.

Almost the Only Orderly Thing in a Very Unorderly World

Thursday, November 5th, 2009


And then there were a series of tableaux, some familiar – Jeter’s raised arms and yell, Rivera’s grin, Posada’s near-skip towards the mound – and some new: Mark Teixeira’s fiercely goofy expression as he jumped up and down, Nick Swisher tearing wide-eyed and open-mouthed towards the infield, Francisco Cervelli hopping around like a caffeinated bunny, Joe Girardi’s gaunt face an open book of anticipation and then, for just a moment, pure, unguarded happiness.

That’s from my Bronx Banter writeup of last night’s Yankees World Series win. I hope I did it justice – not the game, which was pleasant but not a classic, but the outcome. The last time the Yankees won the Series, I was a college sophomore – I watched the games with my Mets fan friend Dan, on my common room coach – and it had never even crossed my mind to write about baseball. Of course I understand that nine years isn’t a long time, not even close, between sports championships; but in an individual life it is a pretty major chunk of time. And “time” is my theme for the day, since the Yankees clinched about 10 minutes before my birthday.

Anyway, I’ll just cling to the Series for another day or two, because it’s going to be a long, cold, baseball-free winter. But I’m going to keep the blog going throughout – Mets and Yankees and general baseball news, plus maybe some movie and book reviews to pass the time – and while I haven’t figured out the details yet, I’m even planning to move off Blogger and onto a real site at some point in the next couple of months.

For now, though (look away, Mets fans):

One More for the Money; Also Facial Hair

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

My writeup of last night’s game is up at the Banter.

In other vitally important news (via Rob Neyer), I am quite pleased to see that Diamondbacks reliever Clay Zaveda – who also has a fine baseball name – has won the American Mustache Institute’s coveted “Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year.” It is well deserved. The Phillies and, especially, the Cardinals, among other teams, could learn a lot from this guy about proper facial hair technique. (Last night a friend of mine expressed the opinion, unprompted by me, that Jayson Werth “looks like a human rattail”).

To summarize:

This is how it’s done.

No.

No.

Absolutely not.

A THOUSAND TIMES NO.

At Least It’s a More Creative Chant Than "Phillies Suck"

Friday, October 30th, 2009

My writeup of last night’s game, which perhaps predictably half-turned into an essay on Pedro Martinez, is up at the Banter.

This seems like too short of a post to put up all by itself, so: bonus dog photo.

Hopefully I’ll get a Name of the Week post up later.

The Cliff Lee Affair

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

There’s not much point in urging fans to relax, to not freak out so much about one bad game… after all, isn’t irrationally investing our emotions sort of the point of baseball fandom? There’s nothing logical about the enterprise to begin with.

Still, it’s always a little startling how quickly one game can flip the general fan mood (as measured, highly unscientifically, by talking to a few friends, reading a bunch of blog comments, and checking in with the huge Yankees fan who works the late shift at the deli on the corner). Cliff Lee’s performance last night – which was not only great, but also just so Steve McQueen cool – seems to have flipped the consensus from “Yankees in 6″ to “Phillies in 4 and I just hope a Yankee hits the ball out of the infield again, some day.”

If Pedro, of all people, wins tonight’s Game 2, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Sad Dogs and Englishmen

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

I’m too tired even to take a cute picture of my dog, so here’s a random photo of a sad dog from the internet reacting to last night’s game:


Meanwhile my post on last night’s roller coaster is up at the Banter; I found kinda the perfect quote for that game:

It was the best of games, it was the worst of games, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

As I wrote in my Banter post, now that they’ve rescheduled Saturday’s Game 6 for the evening, I may have to miss at least a chunk of it – I’m going to a dinner party that night. Aaargh! But it’s at the apartment of a good friend who has known me a long time… so I’m assuming she’ll forgive me for checking the score during the meal.

Banter, Bugs, and Further Animal Exploitation

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

So I wrote up last night’s Yankee win at the Banter, and posted a little something about the umpiring shenanigans at Bugs & Cranks.

Meanwhile, following yesterday’s successful debut of Pearl as the official Eephus Pitch mascot, I give you my dog’s reaction to the blown fifth-inning call at third:

Yes, Pearl wants instant replay in the playoffs. Instant replay, and maybe a peanut butter treat.

Now on Sale at the Stadium Store, Pitchforks and Torches

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

You know how some sports blogs try to attract traffic with photos of hot chicks in bikinis? Well, I’m going to try a slightly different, but related, approach: the cute animal photo. Herewith, the expression on my dog’s face when Joe Girardi took Dave Robertson out of the game in the 11th inning, with two outs and nobody on, and brought in Alfredo Aceves:

Pearl, official Eephus Pitch mascot

I hope to make this a regular feature.

Anyway, this is one of those days I’m just glad I’m not a manager, especially not a New York manager. I like Joe Girardi, and I think he’s done a very good this year on the whole, but… yeah… it may be time for him to take it down a notch.

I’ll be writing up tonight’s game over at the Banter. Make Pearl happy, CC.