Sunday, October 08, 2006

Winds Of Change

I've been a Yankees fan since grade school. All the highs and lows from the 70's and 80's seem like last week: Chris Chambliss's homerun against Kansas City, Reggie Jackson's three homers against the Dodgers, Bucky Dent's homerun in Boston (I had just come home from football practice), and Thurman Munson's death (I still have all the newspaper clippings from that day).

So this weekend's loss to Detroit was tough -- but not as tough as I thought it would be. This team needs some changes, starting with the coach; the entire summer I told friends that if the Yankees had another disappointing postseason, Lou Piniella should replace Joe Torre as manager. That appears imminent. Some players need to go too. But some of the rituals that surround the team have descended into parody: the player roll call from the bleachers at the start of every game, the constant curtain calls (for those clutch homers in May!), and -- my personal pet peeve -- the inexplicable playing of "God Bless America" during the seventh inning of every home game, during which fans are expected to stand and dutifully reaffirm their patriotism. Of course the most successful sports franchises have always had self-perpetuating rituals. When the team is winning, they are tolerable and often entertaining. In defeat, they are grating and symptomatic of deeper decay.

Living off past success; a lumbering giant with plenty of money to spend, but unable to adapt and win when it counts; the faithful taking refuge in empty rituals and reflexive patriotism. Sound familiar?

A hefty serving of tabula rasa, please....


Blogger Thomas said...

Ummm, you might have been a fan when a kid, but you've been watching too much football and basketball if you've started calling the manager "the coach."

10/08/2006 8:40 PM  
Anonymous NeilS said...

"I've been a Yankees fan since grade school."

That's like saying 'I always thought Darth Vader was such a great guy.'

As a Detroit Tiger fan, I can only say that this has been a very pleasant weekend.

10/08/2006 9:06 PM  
Anonymous rcb said...

Couldn't help but be reminded ...

"There's a wicked wind still blowing on that upper deck ..."

10/08/2006 9:24 PM  
Anonymous John Thullen said...

I loved the Yankees in Mantle's day, Reggie Jackson's day and now in Jeter's day.

But I've gotta say I'm happy to see the Detroit Tigers on their way back. They were a great team in Kaline's day and they are a fine name to see in the headlines again.

10/08/2006 9:53 PM  
Blogger jj said...

i don't care what anybody says, every post-season short series is 100% unpredictable. the yanks would be nuts to fire torre for post-season 'failure'. but boy would i love to see my giants pick him up.

and good catch, thomas. caught ol' TCR with his jock down.

10/08/2006 10:49 PM  
Blogger Grodge said...

As a Southside Chitown fan transplanted to Michigan, I am enjoying immensely the good baseball being played in the Central division of the AL. Solid pitching, defense and hitting. No bloated egos or inane chatter. Leyland is a manager.

From the viewpoint of the fields of the Great Flyover, the Yankees are laughable. They spend an ungodly amount of money and forget to show up for the playoffs. With that payroll, they should be 120-42 with a World Series trophy every year. Steinbrenner is a joke, and Torre is the punchline. A-Rod, with what 1 or 2 hits vs the tigers, should be too embarassed to show his face.

I'm a baseball fan and I enjoy the game when it's played well, although I admit that it's much more fun when the White Sox are winning. This year, the Tigers just plain play better. They deserve it.

The Yankees? Pfffth!

10/09/2006 1:23 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Hedley Bowes said...

A-Rod: "I sucked."

A-Rod also got to take home a hefty paycheck. I wish I had that kind of compensation on my -best- day.

10/09/2006 2:29 AM  
Blogger reality-based educator said...

The Yanks still contend these days, despite their failure to win it all. As a Mets fan, I can tell you about having a team that REALLY sucks!!! Remember the Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray, Frankie Viola days? Or the Carlos Baerga/Roberto Alomar days? Uggh.

For that matter, with a starting rotation of Steve Trachsel, John Maine, and Oliver Perez, I have a hard time believing the Mets will get past the Cardinals, let alone either Oakland or Detroit.

10/09/2006 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course George is PO'd because his precious multimillion dollar team choked again, and now he's blaming it on the manager, the players, and everyone else. If he'd take a look in the mirror he'd see the guy who's really messed up the Yanks. How was it that they managed to have a great team in the late nineties? Oh yeah - Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball! And during that team they actually built up a farm team and developed young players and strengthened their pitching. Now they've returned to Steinbrenner's old methods of madness, with the same predictable results.

Lou Piniella? Hell, bring back Billy Martin!

10/09/2006 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so hate that 7th inning crap. Please. Make it stop.

10/09/2006 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I thought all teams still did this 7th Inning GBA crap.

People should just stop standing. Enough is enough.

10/09/2006 10:39 AM  
Blogger Jay C said...

Umm, r-b educator, didn't you forget somebody?

Hint: he wears No.47.

10/09/2006 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At work, we were complaining about the God Bless America thing, and one person mentioned that it wasn't even a very good song (which it isn''s a bad rip off of God Save the Queen, after all). One person, a 23 year old who was quite certain he knew everything (who had been discharged from the army, reportedly for asthma which somehow didn't keep him from playing a ton of soccer) stated that "If you don't like the song, you're a bad American".

10/09/2006 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Supergenius said...

FYI, God bless America sung during the 7th inning stretch started after baseball resumed following the 9/11 attacks.

I always assumed they would stop doing it (like the next season)...

10/10/2006 9:46 AM  
Anonymous howard said...

as a fellow lifelong yankee fan, CR, i'd just like to say that there is one very simple explanation for the yankee post-season failures since they were up 3-0 over the sox in 2004: the starting pitching is not of championship quality.

not even close.

this year, for instance, the yankee starting pitching ERA in the tiger series was 6.14. it doesn't matter how good your hitting is (and, of course, the yankee hitting wasn't very good in games 2-4), if your starter is giving up 2 runs every 3 innings, you aren't going to win.

now, i must admit, i thought that the acquisitions of jeff weaver and javier vasquez would work out and give the yankees some strong younger starters, but they didn't, and as a result, we saw what we saw.

10/12/2006 4:12 PM  

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