Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Two Words: Yankees Suck

I resist the temptation to declare this “National Yankees Suck Week” and I don’t know why.

As a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, this feels like an extended holiday. Seeing the hated New York Yankees in last place in the standings in July is cause for fireworks and jubilation. Something you lean back, look up, smile and appreciate. Something wonderfully and completely unexpected to celebrate like a kid rejoicing a rare snow day that cancels school in Maine.

I'm so giddy, what do I do with myself?

The last time the Yankees were alone in last place with their worst record after 95 games  Carl Harrison “Stump” Merrill -- once a star catcher for the University of Maine from Brunswick, Maine -- had replaced Russell Earl “Bucky” Dent – always a weak-hitting shortstop in New York/the anti-Christ in New England – as the manager of the Yankees after Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had the audacity to fire him  over the telephone at Fenway Park, the very site of his most famous hit ever. I still cringe when I see Yaz’s knees buckle as Bucky’s game-changing home run barely creeped into the net at the top of the Green Monster in the infamous 1978 playoff game.

I’ve seen that replay show up on TV more than Jake from State Farm.

It was the 1990 season when the Yankees finished in last place for the first time in 24 years with 95 losses, their most since 1912 B.B. Before Babe. That year Billy Martin was killed in a car crash, MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent banned Steinbrenner from baseball for life after he paid a gambler for “dirt” on Dave Winfield who had sued the Yankees owner, and the Yankees drafted Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and my Facebook friend Jalal Leach and released the .158 hitting Deion Sanders. Don Mattingly was the Yankees’ first baseman and Dave Righetti was their ace reliever but their starting second baseman was Steve Sax, their right fielder was Jesse Barfield, their DH was Steve Balboni, and their catcher was Bob Geren, now a bench coach for the L.A. Dodgers after being fired as manager of the Oakland A’s.

More a Mundane Row than Murderer’s Row.

This Yankees team has a $295 million payroll and normally the Yankees could buy their way out of this funk. First baseman Anthony Rizzo, who the Yankees resigned in the offseason for two years and $40 million, is batting .190 with no home runs since May 20 and was benched Wednesday. Giancarlo Stanton, who has four years remaining on a 13-year $325 million contract, is currently hitting .196 on the season. Two-time batting champion D.J. Lemahieu is batting .231.

Yankees fans are so frustrated that some are pointing to a stuffed cat toy prank before their last series against the Anaheim Angels by Gleyber Torres on his notoriously cat-fearing Venezuelan teammate Eduardo Escobar as if it’s cursed the team.  Yankees fans are finding more negative than positive in the team right now with Aaron Judge still recovering from ligament tears in his right big toe. Since Judge, the American League’s MVP last season, has been on the IL since June 6 and the Yankees’ record is 14-21.

The rumor mill has the Yankees being desperate enough to put together a package to go after Shohei Ohtani before the August 1 trade deadline. But six years ago Ohtani declined to even speak with the Yankees when he was a free agent. The Yankees, the second oldest team in major league baseball behind the Mets, would need to surrender a ton of players/prospects to get him then invest upwards of $500 million after giving Judge $360 million in the offseason to keep him. That's a steep price for protecting the Yankees from their enemies. Maybe they can get Mexico to pay for it.

So it’s easy to pick on the Yankees right now and normally I would be first on the dog pile. Especially after Yankees manager Aaron Boone said "we stink" on Wednesday night, which I think is as close as you can come to "we suck." I own a gray T-shirt and a red hoodie both inscribed with “Jesus Hates The Yankees” and I have religiously worn my white “Yankees Suck” T-shirt for years. My loathing for the Yankees is so well known that when Derek Jeter missed by one vote of being voted unanimously into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010, more than one person contacted me and asked if that was my vote. No, my voting for the Baseball of Fame expired in 2019. For the record, I would have voted for Jeter to be voted into Cooperstown on the first ballot, though I despised all the times he fist-pumped celebrating big moments against the Red Sox. That image is forever etched in my mind no matter how many commercials he does these days.

I do not feel sorry for the Yankees and never will, but I am going to resist the temptation for “National Yankees Suck Week.” And now I know why.

No. 1 the Yankees still have a winning record despite all their injuries and Judge is taking batting practice and running the bases and about a week away from returning to the lineup.

No. 2 the Red Sox record isn’t much better than the Yankees’ record despite fewer injuries and, after losing two consecutive games and giving up five home runs in less than 24 hours to the worst team in baseball – the Oakland A’s -- they are a day away from falling back into last place.

No. 3 the Yankees are the Yankees and they always find a way to right their ship better than the Red Sox though the Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2009.

Had to get that dig in. I wouldn’t be a Red Sox fan if I didn’t.


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