Following the Red Sox’ 4-3 win over the Yankees, Thursday night at Fenway Park — their eighth victory in as many meetings with New York this season — Sox majority owner John Henry posted on his Twitter account: “the MT Curse?” The ‘MT’ was assumed to be in reference to Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who signed with the Yankees instead of the Red Sox. But a few hours later, in an email to WEEI.com, Henry wrote: “Purely Entertainment. Nothing more. I don’t believe in curses.” Henry offered one more ‘Tweet’ before the night was over, writing, “At Stella finishing late dinner with friends. Journalists emailing about curses. Does anyone really believe in curses except Dan?”
I’m starting to think that something is going on…but, it’s got nothing to do with Mark Teixeira.
Back in November of 2005, I suggested the notion of the “50 First Dates Curse” – however that was somewhat tongue in cheek.
Nonetheless, a case can be made, that ever since Aaron Boone hit that homerun in the 2003 ALCS, a lot of negative things have happened for the Yankeees in terms of their post-season outcomes and some games against the Boston Red Sox.
It’s almost as if Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS was the last wish from the genie in the bottle, The Bambino, and ever since then the Yankees have been on their own to face the world without the benefit of any charms and spells.
Hey, it’s either that, or, well, I have to go back to something that I wrote in October of last year:
Brian Cashman became Yankees G.M. on February 28, 1998. And, yes, the Yankees did win rings in 1998, 1999 and 2000. However, when Cashman took over as the head man in charge, the following players were already on the team: Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Paul O’Neill, Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mike Stanton, David Cone, Ramiro Mendoza, David Wells, Joe Girardi, Jeff Nelson, Chad Curtis and Darryl Strawberry.
This group of Yankees was added to the team by Stick Michael and Bob Watson. It was they, and not Cashman, who built a powerhouse entity (via this cadre of players) who went on to win three rings from 1998 through 2000 – and which benefited Brian Cashman when he took over for Watson in 1998.
After 2001, when that the force that Michael and Watson created was nearly tapped out, is when the Yankees sincerely became “Brian Cashman’s team.” And, sure, from 2002 through 2008, under Cashman, the Yankees were marvelous in terms of their win totals and revenue. But, if not for Boston collapses in the 2003 ALCS and the regular seasons of 2005 and 2006, this seven-year period would not look as pretty for New York as it does on the average fan’s ledger.
On the whole, Brian Cashman took a team that was a three-peat World Champion and turned them into a team that would finish first and then lose in the LDS…and then into a team that would no longer finish first but would win a Wildcard (and lose in the LDS)…and then into a team that would not make the post-season at all. Notice the trend here?
The MT Curse? How about the Cashman Curse? Now, yes, I know what “The Royal Order of the Cashman Kool-Aid Brigade” is thinking now: “But, Cashman hasn’t had full control of the team until 2005.”
Hey, I recognize that that point. In fact, as recently as last December, I wrote:
Brian Cashman became Yankees G.M. on February 28, 1998. However, from 1998 through 2005, George Steinbrenner’s troops in his Tampa office (including but not limited to Bill Emslie, Billy Connors, Mark Newman and Damon Oppenheimer) had so much input on personnel moves that it was somewhat difficult to know what exactly what were Cashman’s decisions or not.
This all changed in October 2005 when Brian Cashman was given full autonomy on running the Yankees. As Cashman said at that time: “I’m the general manager, and everybody within the baseball operations department reports to me. That’s not how it has operated recently.” So, without question, we can look at the state of the New York Yankees over the last three seasons (2006, 2007 and 2008) as well as this off-season (of 2008-2009) and know that what you see is “All-Cashman.”
And, under “All-Cashman,” this is what we have in Yankeeland: A team in 2006 who gets body slammed in the first round of the playoffs, a team in 2007 that doesn’t finish first and who gets bounced in the first round of the playoffs, a team in 2008 that doesn’t even make the post-season, and a team in 2009 who cannot win one game in eight tries against the Boston Red Sox.