Disclaimer: I Dislike the Yankees Again
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.
* * *
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?
10/19/2017 11:32:22 am
George is such an old friend, we can only argue about soccer coaches these days. As a life-long Yankee fan whose Mom started the tradition (from the Bronx, she saw Ruth, Gehrig and Lazzeri as a five year old in the 26 Series), this 2017 run has been so wonderful. Yanks-Dodgers would be a great Series. Molly Goldberg called the great Berra Yogalah. He was the best ever, no disrespect meant to Senor Sanchez. And George, I will not mention Billy, Whitey, Hank, Moose and Ellie, only the greatest athlete to ever lace them up, the great Mantle.
10/19/2017 04:23:31 pm
Al, really, Molly Goldberg referred to Yogi?
10/26/2017 11:25:03 am
thanks, George, for that delightful reminiscence on the Dodgers of days gone by, from the youngest of four boys, all avid Brooklyn fans.. I almost thought I spotted some of us in that great photo at the top.. ! Cheers, Tags
10/19/2017 01:32:13 pm
10/19/2017 01:50:01 pm
By the way, I think that all these Baby Bombers have fun playing it.
10/19/2017 04:27:26 pm
Dear Altenir: what a nice crossover -- Judge resembling Neymar in enthusiasm. It's true. Messi is impassive. Neymar conveys emotion.
10/19/2017 06:12:23 pm
Dear George: maybe Roberto Baggio had the elegance and magic of Ozzie Smith, but unfortunately because of 1994 FIFA World Cup, he’ll be recognized by the bad luck, like Bill Buckner in 1986 World Series Game 6. We both liked it.
10/20/2017 08:53:27 am
Altenir: good point. Baggio had hurt himself in the semifinal and willed himself to play the final. And Buckner looked stiff-legged all through the Series and should have been replaced by Stapleton on defense in the 9th inning. But you, as a knowledgeable baseball fan in Rio, know I was thinking more of the elegance and inventiveness of Baggio and Ozzie. G
10/20/2017 09:52:32 am
George: I was just kidding. Of course, these athletes are so fantastic that they deserved much more glories. Zico in 1986 World Cup lost a penalty against the France and had eliminated the Brazil from the competition. Zico is a great player and a nice guy, but he has been living with that bad fame, like Baggio as well. Sports things. Best to you all. Altenir
10/20/2017 09:59:56 am
George asked "what happens if the Yanks meet the Dodgers in the World Series?" Bob Liff had the answer in the Daily News today.
10/20/2017 02:22:43 pm
jOSH, point well taken. As columnist, I loved Rich Gossage and Willie Randolph. And mensches like Bob Watson and Chili Davis passed through the Yankees. What's not to like? I missed the 70s -- loved reading about those frolics.
10/20/2017 04:14:46 pm
Thanks, George. Agreed, they are not coming back. I'm just not sure they'd be welcome if they tried. As I've written before, the grudge runs deep and is passed on through generations, like the irish with Cromwell.
10/20/2017 11:54:44 am
George, I feel you here. I am usually not a fan of the Dodgers either. I have loved how my Cardinals have ended their playoff runs in 2013 & 14 respectively. Pedro Guerrero throwing his glove down in disgust in 1985 as Jack Clark showed up Tommy Lasorda for pitching to him in a big spot instead of a young Andy Van Slyke. Somehow, I like this Dodger bunch. Perhaps it because they were playing the Cubs, who now have a strangle hold on the Central Division instead of my STL club. Yasiel Puig aside, this bunch is kind of likeable. I too like this Yankee bunch and how they seem to love playing the game. And, it appears that they may have saved their Manager's job. Here's hoping for a more competitive game 6 and/or game 7 in Houston for the fans of the game. Long live baseball!
10/20/2017 02:16:37 pm
Ted, unless you are the voice from the lab in Arizona, then you are very contemporary radio host in St. Louis with my pal Tom Schwarz and a cast of thousands. Thanks for the comments. Yes we all have our angst. Well, except for Yankee fans. They have no right to angst. My angst goes back to 1946 and the lost playoff to the Cardinals. As you know, I love the Cards and Reds and Pirates because they remind me of the old days.
10/20/2017 10:03:03 pm
Definitely not the voice in the lab... Cardinal fans are no longer quick to treat the Cubs and their fans like the lovable losers they had become for 108 years. They have won two straight NL Central Titles, and a World Series. Now they are a real threat to Cardinal Nation, and routinely take over Busch Stadium when the Cubs visit STL because tickets are too expensive and not easily available at Wrigley. No more nicey nice...
10/21/2017 07:42:34 am
Yankees fans have no right to angst? I have previously confessed my psychological torture as a 10-year-old Yankees fan living in the Flushing postal code zone in 1969. Kids are merciless to one another, and political correctness wasn't known then. My jumping on the bandwagon that fall as the rightful or undeserving heirs to the Dodgers' spirit overwhelmed a city of fair-weather friends is a guilt trip I can't get beyond. I ride the Flushing Line, parking in the commuter lot near the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and Mets' ballpark and grumble every time a home game interferes with my commute. I hear that ballpark resembles Ebbets Field.
10/20/2017 10:35:45 pm
Et tu, Georgalah?
10/21/2017 07:04:16 pm
Andy: Horace and Roy were great guys. Jazz fans. Plus Jerry Kenney, SS, wore No. 2 but was neither Crosetti nor Jeter,. However, he taught me the soul hand-slap greeting of 1967, I think: "Gimme five -- and two for soul." I taught it to my kids and grandkids. Sort of an interim time with my friend Bill and Mike Kekich, too. Team wasn't great, but I had fun. GV
10/21/2017 10:58:58 am
10/21/2017 12:44:34 pm
Glad you are safe and sound! (I see you are sound by your reference to GV’s apostasy.
10/21/2017 06:59:39 pm
Bruce, sorry to be slow catching up. Shirley let me know. What a disaster. You were looking forward to that trip for six months, at least.
10/21/2017 03:35:03 pm
Slippery slope, George.
10/21/2017 07:06:12 pm
Yikes, I've been zapped by mates from Israel, Paris and Florida.
10/22/2017 02:56:00 am
Moot point now, George. Let’s hope Beltran strikes out looking to end it and Curtis gets his ring.
10/22/2017 01:05:33 am
10/22/2017 04:35:58 am
10/22/2017 11:06:13 am
Bruce, Bon Journee. This last post filled we with nostalgia. Paris still is our favorite city, although we enjoy many, Copenhagen is close.
10/22/2017 11:12:24 am
10/25/2017 11:24:06 am
Sorry to learn of your discomfort and losses, but the important thing is that you are OK. As meaningful as memories are, things are things and people cannot be replaced.
10/25/2017 02:18:18 pm
Alan (and anybody else): That was Bruce from Ontario who wrote that from Paris. He put my name on the form for responding. He' had been counting the days to Paris -- sent me gorgeous photos of the City of Light on his first evening -- and the refrigerator blew up on him a few hours later. Worst was the loss of a watch his late wife bought for him in Paris.....
10/25/2017 02:47:59 am
George, I understand your feeling about these Yankees but I can´t share it. I´ve hated them since 1947. If I give up the hatred, what have I got except a lifetime of scholarship? It´s not enough. I´ve gotta hate the Yankees and love the Bums. And consider this: we haven´t lost in sixty years. Granted, you could tack on another thirteen and say the same of the St. Louis Browns, but hey, it´s still a helluva record.
10/25/2017 08:18:56 am
Reading a nice column in yesterday's Sports Section (is it necessary to preserve anonymity here?), I pondered the honor of rooting for underdogs. My bitter experience as a 10-year-old Yankees fan living in northern Queens in 1969 was relatively brief if at a tender age, and I must concede that I am not worthy of the angst of the Dodgers' fans. Maybe I'll open Peter Golenbock's "Bums," right here in Mom's apartment. She emigrated to Brooklyn in 1930 or so and remains angry to this day.
10/25/2017 02:30:21 pm
Andy, There are so many gradations. As a Queens boy, I met a very nice girl from Park Ave and Bronx Science, whose friends knew really cool places in midtown -- and they regarded Queens as the end of the world. I felt the same way when I commuted to Hofstra -- the country. As for accents, having lived and worked outside NY, when I put on Ch. 12 (Dolanvision) for even a few minutes it's hard because of the Lawn Guyland accents. But when I am talking about old Hofstra games with my athlete pals, I revert.
10/25/2017 10:14:19 am
Mr. Vecsey, thank you for specifying "five admirable guys" in your assessment of the 1990s Yankees. I have grown to dislike the "core four" term because of the insult it delivers to Bernie Williams each time someone uses it.
10/25/2017 02:21:08 pm
Jim: I totally agree. BErnie (and Gerald Williams, no relation) were there before Jeter. Bernie was and is a great guy on his own, and I was (no rooting allowed in the pressbox) hoping he would last. Joe Torre gave him room -- and Bernie went with it. Thanks for reminding us there were five. GV
10/25/2017 10:19:15 am
10/25/2017 02:49:30 pm
Don, I use email@example.com
10/26/2017 03:47:13 pm
George, there is no sin in being a born-again Yankee fan. Sports are to be enjoyed and choosing a favorite for each event is part of the fun.
10/27/2017 03:55:45 pm
enjoined alan;s comments.but i think centerfied at p.g. was 475 feet 7THEN THE DIRT TRACK.
10/27/2017 05:17:00 pm
My memory, (Disclosure) is a low 500’s foot sign in the late 40-51 at the PG. 279, left field Line, around 300 RF year old from LI I thought nothing of taking the LIRR and the subway to 155 th Street and my parents did not freak out either. After 1951, I never went back, want to guess why?
10/27/2017 05:28:58 pm
the all-knowing internet says only 257 down RF Line, 279 to “Chinese Home Run” territory at LF Line, and 455 to CF, but that may not count the area in the passage to the clubhouses. (I don’t give up easily.)in previous post. PS. What Giant was none as “Mandrake” to Dodger fans? Derogatory appellation about his singles hitting.
10/27/2017 06:00:39 pm
Had to be Don Mueller, couldn´t be anyone else. One of the really great contact hitters of his day.
10/27/2017 06:19:31 pm
My first game at PG. age 9. Jack Conway 255 ft hr off Willie The Knuck Ramsdell.
10/29/2017 08:29:59 pm
I don't know where I got the 595 dead center for the PG, but the figure is about 455. I could not confirm the distance, but the dirt to the clubhouse steps must have been 30 feet or so.
10/30/2017 03:10:40 pm
Lou Brock, 62 or 63, hit leadoff homer bounced on top of thin RF bleacher fence/wall and went into stands. I was late getting there and was in deep RF stands on way to press box in archaic Polo Grounds. Saw the ball hit flush on the fence -- home run.
10/30/2017 11:33:07 am
Morning coffee watching extra-innings World Series games in Jerusalem in November. Baseball as it oughta be.
10/30/2017 12:02:11 pm
Great time of day. I fell asleep at 7-7.
11/3/2017 01:00:27 pm
My greatest Polo Grounds memory comes from my late father who swore that in the 1930s he saw Hack Wilson dressed in nothing but a jock strap and undershirt sitting outside the visitor's clubhouse smoking a stogie and reading the Daily Racing Form.
11/3/2017 01:26:15 pm
Great images, but if he didn´t have a shot of bourbon with the stogie it probably isn´t true.
11/3/2017 03:50:14 pm
The man once drove in 191 runs in a season (upgraded from 190 not long ago) and they made him smoke in the hallway? That was more than 30 years before the first Earth Day.
11/3/2017 02:47:26 pm
If the truth the legend do not match, always go with the legend.
11/3/2017 03:06:11 pm
Going with the legend was a valid aperçu for nearly all the years I have been on this earth. That changed when the fascist gasbag won the presidential election a year ago. Time to stand up for the truth and stand up to the fascist gasbag.
11/3/2017 03:51:48 pm
Ed: I think I know who you mean.
11/5/2017 03:19:39 pm
The "gasbag" is an abomination, not a legend.
11/5/2017 05:48:20 pm
That was my point.
Comments are closed.
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.