In a moment of weakness last week, I wrote the piece below that I liked this new version of the Yankees.
The ownership/management Ghost of Boss George reared its twitchy head and fired Manager Joe Girardi after the Yankees didn't win it all, again.
I thought Girardi did a good job, ushered in a new era, was patient with Judge and Sanchez, and got them to the league series. Anybody seen Houston? Better young players. Not Girardi's fault.
That's all I have to say. The rest of this post is the same as before. I've been watching runners and relief pitchers scamper across the screen late at night.
Your updated reaction to the World Series is appreciated.
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Much to my chagrin, I really don’t mind that these Yankees are deep into the post-season.
This runs against my entire upbringing but I kind of like Aaron Judge and Todd Frazier and the rest.
I think it is a form of Stockholm Syndrome, but the other day I found myself identifying with Yankee tradition and not the petulant yelping of the social media and the hang-him-high posse mentality of arriviste playoff fans.
When Joe Girardi botched the potential challenge against Cleveland – probably costing the Yankees a game – the web mob was bellowing for Girardi’s scalp. I harrumphed: “He’s done a good job for a long time. Everybody has a bad game.”
I checked with my Yankee guru, Big Al, Esq., from Jersey, who's been busting me for years for being a Brooklyn/Met type. On this one, we totally agreed: Girardi should stay. Now look at them.
The bulk of my life experience has taught me to fear the Yankees – autumns as a Brooklyn Dodger fan, watching an endless parade of Joe Page, Tommy Henrich, Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle, Bob Kuzava, for goodness’ sakes, and Don Larsen in 1956.
And every fall, that golem that Big Al, Esq., calls Yogalah. A childhood of ineradicable pain, Doctor.
Covering the aging Yankees of the early ‘60s did not alter my impression of entitled and mostly grumpy champions. I finally got to like the Yankees, briefly, when they were terrible and they had good guys like Bill Robinson, Steve Hamilton, Gene Michael, Dick Howser and Ruben Amaro.
Then, I was off covering the Real World for a decade and when I came back there were new reasons to feel skin-crawly about the Yankees – George and Billy and their tempestuous co-dependency.
Then the Boss was forced to keep the young talent in the system – five admirable guys named Bernie, Derek, Jorge, Andy and Mariano. And I remember a catcher named Girardi, smart and positive, whom I once pegged as a future manager, maybe even in the Bronx. You could see it.
We were all getting older. On the night in 1998 when the Yankees swept the Padres in San Diego, the Boss came into the locker room and got his ritual Champagne dowsing from the new leader, Jeter, and then George M. Steinbrenner, III, while talking to reporters, began to bawl. (The Boss was a crier.)
What else was a 50-something columnist to do? I hugged him and congratulated him. Yikes. But I did it. Maybe this was a breakthrough, Doctor?
Now the Boss is gone. My old friend Bob Sheppard is gone. Jeter and Mo, impeccable old-line Yankees, are retired. There is not one player on this squad with the starchiness of an old Yankee.
Judge has the sweet, open facial expressions of a junior-high-school kid. He says all the right things. And he can play. Frazier runs around and leads cheers like a role player from some less-august franchise. And what ball fan would not love that bullpen?
I have never, ever, said this before: The Yankees are fun to watch.
Note: I ran this theory past a Red Sox fan whom I will not identify any further than as my agent. She sneered. (Over the phone, I can recognize a sneer.) She wouldn’t mind if the Yankee bus had a flat tire and they had to forfeit a game. I recognize the emotion. I never once expressed it in print because that would be unprofessional. But I used to feel like that.
However: what happens if the Yanks meet the Dodgers in the World Series? The Dodgers wear the colors of my childhood plus they have the admirable Curtis Granderson, whom I am calling The Last Living Met. Will I have flashbacks, Doctor?