• Is This The Beginning Of The End Of My Yankees Fandom?

    Posted by on April 17th, 2010 · Comments (58)

    I’ve been a Yankees fan since I attended my first game, in person, back in 1973. And, while I remember following the team in 1974, I would say that it was in 1975 that I became a over-zealous follower and admirer of the team. It pretty much stayed that way for me sans a brief period of time from 1986 through 1988. (I still followed the team during those three seasons – but, it was more from a distance than the usual position of being plugged into the team, for life-support, on a daily basis. Blame that period on me being 23-24-25 years old and just having too much fun working full-time for the first time ever and running around wild on nights and weekends. Nonetheless, by 1989, I was back in full-swing of being a nutty Yankees fan.)

    So, basically, since 1975, I’ve been a Yankees fanatic. As such, as I have shared before, I take Yankees losses pretty bad – especially in the post-season. And, until the last three seasons or so, I really enjoyed Yankees wins. (I wrote about this back in August of last year.)

    Yet, something is different now. It goes back to a question that I threw out there last July…regarding the likeability of these current Yankees.

    I thought that winning a World Series would erase that situation of Yankees wins having a dwindling pleasure impact for me. But, actually, what’s going on now – for me – is that I am still not deriving a ton of joy from Yankees wins. And, more shockingly, today, I’m not bothered by Yankees losses like I have been for the last 35 years.

    Why is this? If pushed to give an answer, I would offer that I just don’t find this current Yankees team – from the front office of the Brothers Stein, Randy Levine, Lonn Trost and Brian Cashman to the team on the field – very appealing and warranting my emotional investment.

    This is somewhat bizarre and vexing. When I drill down on this feeling, the only possible answer towards its root cause is that I’m allowing a few bad apples to spoil the barrell.

    Now, I’m a raving fan of Andy Pettitte – always have and always will be…I suspect. (I feel the same way about Hideki Matsui – even with him off the team now.) And, I have a ton of respect for Mo Rivera – he’s class and greatness…both at its highest levels. I also like Jorge Posada – and am willing to look past his imperfections because of his grit and emotion. And, Derek Jeter…what can I say? He’s one of the best Yankees ever – a right-handed Tony Gwynn…in more ways than one. Jeter hits, he’s a great spokesperson for the team and a wonderful role model for kids.

    How about other Yankees? Well, I have total trust in Mark Teixeira. There’s never a worry there – in my opinion. And, there are several youngsters on the current Yankees who are very easy to root for – such as Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, Alfredo Aceves, David Robertson and Brett Gardner.

    I would also be remiss not to share that I have great regard for Joe Girardi.

    Yet, to be candid, I haven’t warmed up to the recent Yankees mercenaries CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. Although, I recognize that the former is an outstanding pitcher and a true “ace” – and a leader on the team. (And, by most reports, he’s a super guy.) I suspect, with more time, I will learn to really appreciate Sabathia the way I eventually did Johnny Damon when he was brought into the organization. The latter? The jury is still out on that one. Burnett is really overrated in my book. And, I just can’t connect with him…so far.

    Moving along…Joba Chamberlain is just a ego-mess – and the Yankees allowed this to happen. At this time, I find it hard to feel great about him being a Yankee. Ditto Phil Hughes and Javy Vazquez – but because they seem too soft to me…and not because they have an ego problem…at least not like Joba.

    Robinson Cano is an interesting case. There are things to love about him and there are things not to love about him. However, unlike Posada, it’s hard to look past the bad things because it really seems like he, at times, lacks fire and passion. (This one is really hard for me – because Cano is my daughter’s favorite player. So, I want him to do well, for the team, and her – but, I can’t shake this feeling that he’s one of these guys who is going to not continue to work hard and who will allow the game to spit him out.)

    Who does this leave? Nick Johnson, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, A-Rod…and some other scrubs…back-up outfielders and bullpen arms.

    Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson…I dunno. At this junction, I don’t love them and I don’t hate them. The next six months may change this…or it may not.

    Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher, like Cano, are interesting cases. Statisically speaking, they’re very productive players. And, they help the team. But, I hate their personalities and would not shed a tear if both were traded tomorrow for a fair exchange.

    Casey Stengel once said that “The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.” And, I wish I could do something like that here…meaning separate A-Rod, Swisher, Cano, Hughes, Vazquez, Chamberlain, Burnett, Levine, Trost and Cashman from Girardi, Pettitte, Rivera, Posada, Jeter, Teixeira and the kids on the team. And, just wait for Sabathia and Granderson (and maybe some others) to grow on me. But, it’s just not happening. And, as such, I’m really losing interest in this team…

    Well, not entirely. That would be somewhat impossible. More so, I should just say that I’m not “living and dying” with this team the way I’ve always done with Yankees teams since 1975. I still care – and this is not a situation of a total absence of emotion or enthusiasm. But, it’s just not the same any more. And, I wonder, is this the beginning of the end for my Yankees fandom? Or, just a small rough patch that needs to driven through until there’s more for me to like in Yankeeland?

    Comments on Is This The Beginning Of The End Of My Yankees Fandom?

    1. BILLSTYLE
      April 17th, 2010 | 5:34 pm

      I feel sorry for you Steve. This years team, like last year’s, has a chance to do something special. Taking every series to start the young season is a great start, maybe all you need is a 7-game losing streak to light a fire under you to start really caring again like we’re all used to.

    2. long time listener
      April 17th, 2010 | 5:39 pm

      What’s an “ego-mess”?

    3. MJ Recanati
      April 17th, 2010 | 5:42 pm

      BILLSTYLE wrote:

      I feel sorry for you Steve.

      I second that.

      How you can’t connect with this team but could find a connection with those clubs from 2002-2008, I have no idea.

      The so-called mercenaries were on those teams too: Giambi, Mussina, Clemens, Wells, etc. The ’09 Yanks are no different than any other Yankee team of recent vintage in that they’re made up of a mix of veterans, young players, in-house guys and free agents.

      Like with the Cashman issue, Steve, you’re very clearly a contrarian. Most folks thought the ’09 team was the easiest Yankees team to root for in nearly a decade.

    4. GCohen9782
      April 17th, 2010 | 5:54 pm

      Steve, Greg from Sliding Into Home here.

      I think you need to stop listening to talk radio all together. I’ve done it and I’ve never enjoyed the sport more. This whole idea of mercenaries is a media driven con. Baseball, like all sports, is a business, so you can’t fault players for going for the best deal they can get because you or I would do the same. There was a time when players stayed away from New York and it hurt the team, at least now they want to come here.

      Also, the Yankees are playing within the rules of the game, so they can’t be faulted for bringing in the best talent they can, once again, you or I would do the same if we ran a team that made a ton of money every year. At least I think you would.

      The team for the past year+ has been a bunch of very likable guys who truly care about each other and want to win. I don’t think a fan can ask for more than that.

      So stop listening to the haters and tell them to shove it.

    5. MJ Recanati
      April 17th, 2010 | 5:57 pm

      @ GCohen9782:
      I don’t want to speak for Steve but I’m assuming (based on comments he’s made in other threads) that part of his problem with the team is that the Yanks spend more than their opponents. He’s said time and again that he’d like the team better if they were built on $150M instead of on $200M.

      Again, I’m just assuming that this is part of what’s troubling Steve these days although, as I said above, I don’t see how the 2009/2010 $200M payroll is any different than the $200M payrolls of 2005-2008.

    6. GCohen9782
      April 17th, 2010 | 6:15 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:

      Hey MJ,

      Yea, I’m sure that’s part of it, but that’s nothing new. Once again, he should stop listening and caring about the haters in the media. They’re all just jealous and would probably kill to have their team have the money the Yankees have.

      As long as the Yankees are playing within the rules of the game nobody has any right to complain. If you have a beef, take it up with Major League Baseball. Should the Yanks stop trying to put the best team they can on the field because other teams can’t? Absolutely not.

      And this isn’t anything new, even back in the day the Yankees always had the financial muscle to get the players they wanted–Catfish, Reggie, Winfield, and on and on. I really don’t feel that anyone can blame the Yankees for making and spending money. Remember, the Yankees are what every other organization strives to be.

    7. throwstrikes
      April 17th, 2010 | 6:19 pm

      Sounds like all the players you don’t like or the jury is still out on have a little “flavor” to their personalities in addition to baseball skills.

    8. Pat F
      April 17th, 2010 | 6:24 pm

      everyone is certainly different, but how much i like or don’t like a particular year’s group doesn’t impact my interest in the team. they’re still the yankees, it’s still baseball, and i’m still going to enjoy it (even the downs) for the great diversion that it is. and there have been teams i have liked a lot less than others (2005 being a prime example). i find this particular version of the club to be as likable as any from the late 90s championship years. good blend of elite veteran leadership/production, good-guy/good-player imports, and energetic/talented youth. i’m not sure if others would agree, but last year was the first time in at least 5 seasons i felt like the team was enjoying themselves on a daily basis (and their public comments seem to support that). in turn that made them more fun to watch, and this year has only been an extension of that so far. all of the winning last year and to date in 2010, of course, is the best part.

    9. redbug
      April 17th, 2010 | 6:28 pm

      I’m with you Steve. I’ve been a Yankee fan since the early 60′s. I saw my 1st game in the mid-’60′s when my Unlce Harry too me to a game. Elston Howard won the game w/ a HR.

      I love the “Core Four”, Cervelli, Tex, CC, Pena. I can’t stand Arod. Don’t like Swisher or Burnett. I’m OK w/ the rest of the team.

      They lost my heart when they treated Joe Torre the way they did. Some how I managed to get through the awful yrs when George was so active and fired a manager every few games. When Joe took over, George was winding down. ’96 was, hands down, my favorite WS. The Yanks were Joe’s team and mine. Joe took them to the PS every yr he manged. Sure there were heartbreaks – esp 2001 and 2004, but I still loved them.

      Last yr, and more so this yr, I’m just not paying much attn. I avoid the days Burnett pitches. I find myself rooting against Arod. I didn’t care that I missed today’s game. I didn’t renew my Sunday plan last yr.

      I definitely watch when Andy pitches. Am honored to see Mo close a game. Am thrilled Jeter is doing so well, again. I only see the good in Jorge. But, when the Core Four are gone I might be too.

    10. hornblower
      April 17th, 2010 | 6:43 pm

      This is the same team that employed Sheffield and Gooden was owned by that fellow who sucked the joy out of the game. The fact that he is no longer present elevates the franchise.
      I know the payroll is a problem but consider that the Yankees have been winning and pay for past success. Losing teams with high payrolls are even more embarrassing.
      I can’t understand why young players like Joba and Phil and home grown ones like Cano and the core 4 don’t excite your passion?
      Baseball has problems and they risk losing fans if they don’t address the disparity in payroll. The more winning the Yankees do hastens the day when it changes.
      I also love having Nick back.

    11. jrk
      April 17th, 2010 | 7:02 pm

      There are guys on the team that I don’t “like” per se, but that has never lessened my passion for the Yankees, and that would never make me root against those players. We can love or hate players and root for them more or less than others, or continue rooting for them when they leave the Yankees, but truly in the end, in sports you are rooting for a uniform, not an athlete.

    12. BOHAN
      April 17th, 2010 | 7:44 pm

      i honestly cant understand how any yankee fan cant love this years or last years team. last year’s team won a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP this year’s team is playing .700 baseball. i cant understand how someone go more enjoyment out of watching the revolving door that was the yankees during the last decade. giambi, mussina, pavano, brown, sheff, abreu, etc. not only was a new person signing a ridiculous contract they didnt deserve (minus moose) they werent winning championship also. and for the individual players… the core four everyone should love brought home 5 World Championships. Tex and the younger guys i agree are very easy to like. they younger guys are kinda made up of the underdog type personalities i feel. CC is one the best pitchers in baseball right now and anytime you get to see him pitch whether in person or on TV you should be able to appreciate that you are watching one of the best pitch for your team. AJ has some of the best stuff in baseball. live easy arm harm for a curveball he can threw 2 or 3 different ways. when he puts it all together you get to see another one of the best pitch. i personally dont think joba has an ego problem. every pitcher has an ego, otherwise theyd get rocked everytime they pitch. they all think theyre the greatest. hughes isnt even 25 yet. lets give him a break and let him mature into the pitcher he can be. lets stop making him into some prodigy and see what happens. he has the ability to be a great pitcher, lets let it happen before we say hes a waste. as for vasquez couldnt agree more. he think hes ridiculously mentally soft and doesnt deserve to wear pintstripes, not even on a suit. cano i can see how he rub some people the wrong way. hes so talented he makes certain players that should be harder look very easy and look real lacksadasical (def spelt that wrong) on routine plays. but the kid can hit and hes stil real young hell figure it out. swisher has a great personality worries more about the team then himself and has a load of energy that he brings to the ballpark everyday. maybe hes not your stereotypical yankee but sometimes change is good. as for NJ im a huge fan brings alot to the team and once he gets the bat going that lineup is going to be ridiculous. granderson i think im going to need atleast a half a season to have a real opinion on. and last but not least ARod. ARod is arguably the best player in the game today. sure he has some character flaws but who doesnt? in my opinion if you produce your ok in my book. and he produces and produces alot and now you cant even say he doesnt produce in the clutch because he proved every hater wrong last postseason. you should be able to appreciate that you are watching one the best players in baseball history play the game. this is going to be a fun year to watch baseball in the bronx hopefully every hater can open their eyes and appreciate it.

    13. Raf
      April 17th, 2010 | 7:57 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      The ‘09 Yanks are no different than any other Yankee team of recent vintage in that they’re made up of a mix of veterans, young players, in-house guys and free agents.

      Yep. Mercenaries are mercenaries, be they Cone, Boggs, Strawberry, Jackson, Winfield, Gossage, etc, etc, etc

    14. Raf
      April 17th, 2010 | 8:02 pm

      Anyway, I suspect that this is just a blip in the road for Steve. The issues he finds with players now I am sure existed at any point of his fandom. Jim Leyritz was an ego-mess. Rickey Henderson probably was. Mattingly and Willie were cool classy guys that repped the Yanks. Winfield was the lighting rod like Rodriguez was/is. So on and so forth.

    15. April 17th, 2010 | 8:44 pm

      throwstrikes wrote:

      Sounds like all the players you don’t like or the jury is still out on have a little “flavor” to their personalities in addition to baseball skills.

      If you’re suggesting that I’m more inclined to like players such as Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter over players such as Nick Swisher, A.J. Burnett, A-Rod and Joba Chamberlain, yes, that is correct. I like guys who are just ball players and who do not bring extra attention to themselves.

    16. April 17th, 2010 | 8:45 pm

      long time listener wrote:

      What’s an “ego-mess”?

      Swelled head, being full of youself, thinking that you’re a star, when you haven’t done anything over a full season that’s really all that impressive.

    17. April 17th, 2010 | 8:48 pm

      @ GCohen9782:

      Greg – thanks. Actually, I don’t listen to that much sports talk radio. So, that’s a non-issue here.

    18. April 17th, 2010 | 8:51 pm

      jrk wrote:

      There are guys on the team that I don’t “like” per se, but that has never lessened my passion for the Yankees, and that would never make me root against those players.

      I never said that I’m rooting against certain Yankees – just that I don’t find them to be players that I would root for…normally. There’s a difference between not caring about a player and rooting against them.

      I don’t root against the Yankees – or any of their players. It’s just that, this season, I find myself not getting upset when they lose and not really getting all that excited when they win. And, that’s so not like me…when it comes to this franchise.

    19. April 17th, 2010 | 8:57 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      I don’t want to speak for Steve but I’m assuming (based on comments he’s made in other threads) that part of his problem with the team is that the Yanks spend more than their opponents. He’s said time and again that he’d like the team better if they were built on $150M instead of on $200M.Again, I’m just assuming that this is part of what’s troubling Steve these days although, as I said above, I don’t see how the 2009/2010 $200M payroll is any different than the $200M payrolls of 2005-2008.

      The payroll only bothers me in the sense that it tells me this is the only way Brian Cashman can build a winning team – by laying out piles of money to secure start players.

      On the flip-side, sure, I would suspect that a team with a $80 million payroll who wins 95 games would be considered “plucky” and easier to like…and have a vested interest in…but, I don’t think that the Yankees $200 million payroll, and the fact that it’s so far and above every other team, is the reason why I’ve become desensitized to Yankees wins and losses.

    20. Thomas Tu
      April 17th, 2010 | 8:57 pm

      Steve Lombari. Sir. I respect and admire your work. I agree with your insights about 99% of the time.

      But how can you not like CC, Curtis, and Cano?

      CC and Curtis are fantastic personalities and they’re both genuinely likable dudes. (Men crush a little bit)

      Robinson has that smooth swagger that I absolutely love. (Another Man-Crush) I honestly like Robbie more than any of the other core 4 guys, except for God (Mariano).

      A-Rod’s story is the quintessential story of a fallen and disgraced soldier who is working back to respectability and dignity.

      I don’t know Mr. Lombardi…sometimes you make me wonder.

      This is probably my favorite Yankees team since I started watching baseball when I was 9 (1997).

      Then again, you don’t like Jay-Z. Maybe there’s a generation gap. *shrug*

    21. April 17th, 2010 | 8:59 pm

      BILLSTYLE wrote:

      I feel sorry for you Steve. This years team, like last year’s, has a chance to do something special. Taking every series to start the young season is a great start, maybe all you need is a 7-game losing streak to light a fire under you to start really caring again like we’re all used to.

      To be fair, that could be an element of this…meaning that I’m not bothered by their losses as much now…because there’s so few of them. And, I’m not as excited over the wins…because they win all the time.

      I’m not saying that’s it…because I don’t know. But, it’s certainly possible.

    22. April 17th, 2010 | 9:02 pm

      Thomas Tu wrote:

      Steve Lombari. Sir. I respect and admire your work. I agree with your insights about 99% of the time.But how can you not like CC, Curtis, and Cano?

      Thomas – you have to re-read what I said about Granderson, Sabathia and Cano. Did I say that I don’t like them? No. I said I still want to wait on Curtis, that it may take time for me to feel about CC the way I did Damon, and that there’s a lot to love about Cano – and that I want him to do well, for the team, and my daughter’s fandom.

    23. April 17th, 2010 | 9:06 pm

      redbug wrote:

      Last yr, and more so this yr, I’m just not paying much attn.

      That pretty much sums up where I am – and why I’m wondering about it. Then again, maybe it has nothing to do with the team? Maybe it’s just that I’m more into other things now?

      Don’t get me wrong. I still love baseball. I love watching baseball. And, I watch the Yankees when I can…and will go to games – esp. with my kids.

      It’s just that I don’t feel like Yankees baseball is life and death anymore…and, again, for the last 35 years, that was soooo not me.

    24. April 17th, 2010 | 9:15 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Yep. Mercenaries are mercenaries, be they Cone, Boggs, Strawberry, Jackson, Winfield, Gossage, etc, etc, etc

      FWIW, I’ve always been slow to warm up to the “mercenaries” – and sometimes I never do…but, for the most part, I do. It just takes time.

      That said, there have been a few – like Godzilla, Goose, Key, Tex, and Catfish – who I warmed up to from “jump street” because of they way they did their business. Whereas others like Boggs, Damon and Cone it took a little longer. And, others, like Mussina, Giambi and Reggie I went back and forth on…

      Really, I think I will come around on CC – what’s not to like besides his weight?

    25. long time listener
      April 17th, 2010 | 9:20 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi: What makes you think any of that applies to Joba?

    26. April 17th, 2010 | 9:23 pm

      long time listener wrote:

      What makes you think any of that applies to Joba?

      I’ve read, and heard, many times that there are several in the Yankees organization who feel Joba’s gotten a swelled head, become too full of himself, stopped working as hard, etc., because he feels like he’s already got it made.

    27. long time listener
      April 17th, 2010 | 9:35 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      I have to say, I’ve never heard that. I just see a young guy who’s adjusting to the big leagues and struggling with expectations, and hasn’t really been helped by how the team has handled him. If there are problems with his work ethic, that’s obviously not good, but part of that is on the organization to kick his butt until he does what’s necessary.

    28. April 17th, 2010 | 10:31 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      It’s just that I don’t feel like Yankees baseball is life and death anymore…and, again, for the last 35 years, that was soooo not me.

      ThougH I’m only 22 years young, I have to say: life responsibilities as well as situations that occur can definitely change how people view fandom of their teams.

      Maybe something or some things have happen that has changed your views on life, baseball, and everything in between. I definitely have followed the team and connected to different players as time goes on, especially how my viewpoint on right/wrong, personalities, and the like changes.

      I don’t blame you at all for it, fandom, like people, change over time.

    29. April 17th, 2010 | 10:40 pm

      Gotta say…the amount of “Good Riddance” and other sundry venom filled comments around the interweb in reaction to what I’m sharing here is somewhat amusing.

      If it’s true that boos on the road are like cheers at home, then…wow…the love that’s coming my way now is a whole heap of a lot… ;-)

    30. BOHAN
      April 18th, 2010 | 12:00 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      throwstrikes wrote:Sounds like all the players you don’t like or the jury is still out on have a little “flavor” to their personalities in addition to baseball skills.If you’re suggesting that I’m more inclined to like players such as Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter over players such as Nick Swisher, A.J. Burnett, A-Rod and Joba Chamberlain, yes, that is correct. I like guys who are just ball players and who do not bring extra attention to themselves.

      those guys like to have fun thats all. they dont take the game to seriously. whats wrong with having fun while doing your job?

    31. susanmullen
      April 18th, 2010 | 4:16 am

      As an overall feeling these are changes I notice. The whole thing has gotten quite big now. The YES Network is a competing force with the Yankees. It is not the Yankees. Goldman Sachs is the majority owner. I enjoyed games when they were on MSG. The new stadium and its needs are now a factor. The team is not governed by a passionate owner now. By what we see and how the team wins, Hal must be judged to be doing a good job (Hal being the designated Boss)as the next best thing (and not as volatile). There are big things going on that weren’t going on a few years ago, government issues involved (aside from tickets). There is an awful lot trying to ride on a group of ballplayers. It can create a different feeling about a team, not saying bad, but concerning.

    32. Evan3457
      April 18th, 2010 | 5:28 am

      Geez, Steve, I don’t know about this one…

      It seems to me that you had, in your head, a pre-conceived notion about what a Yankee Championship Team and a Yankee Championship Player should be, and those players (and front office people) who don’t fit that image have no right to win championships, and if they do, something is karmically, cosmically wrong.

      Fans can root for or against anything or anyone that they want, of course. But it seems to me that fans of a team that wins the most frequently of any team in any sport, and who condemn it for the manner in which it wins, or the style of the players who win, are being picky to a fault.

      Imagine being a Cubs fan, or an Astros fan. Do you think they’d care what style the team exudes if it ever won it all? Some might; a few. Damn few, I’d think.
      ============================================

      You don’t like Cano, Swisher, A-Rod, Hughes, Joba, Burnett and a few others. We well know what you feel about Cashman, Trost, Levine, and Cashman (repetition intended).

      You decide, a priori, that this will team never win with those people playing a key role, so that when they do win, and these people do play key roles, your idea of What A Yankee Should Be, Must Be, To Win is defeated.

      When you sour on this team, are you sure it’s because of them, or is it because of what they did to your pre-conceived notion of what a winning team is? Is it because of who they are, or because they proved you wrong, if only for one season?

      I ask the questions here, not really knowing what’s inside your head, just to let you how what you’ve said in this thread reads to someone who doesn’t share your views on most of those players and some of the front office people. (I don’t much care for Levine, Trost or Hank, either. Hal, I like.)

      It reads, to me (and probably only me) like you’re annoyed at them for winning when you feel that have no karmic right to win.
      ===========================================================

      OK, OK, I’m laying it on a bit thick here. I know it. But other Yankee title teams of recent vintage also had their fair share of idiosyncratic or less-than-perfect human beings on them.

      The Bronx Zoo team was led by Billy Martin, a great baseball man, but no one’s archetype of a saint. Willie Randolph and Graig Nettles didn’t do much hitting in the post-season. Ed Figueroa never pitched even a good post-season game. Reggie Jackson had an ego the size of Australia, and couldn’t stop putting his foot in his mouth his whole first season with the team. Boss George was even more manipulative and childish then than he was in later years. Mickey Rivers was a very strange dude. Sparky Lyle sat in birthday cakes. Lou Piniella was described as “fiery”, a polite way of saying “irascible tight-ass”. Ken Holtzman (1976) was rumored to be disliked by many of his teammates. Dock Ellis (1976) claimed to have pitched a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. Cliff Johnson helped end their chances in 1979 by breaking Goose Gossage’s thumb in a clubhouse brawl. Oscar Gamble had his mega-’Fro. (Nothing wrong with that, just a style-ego issue thing, for lack of a better term; no one else had one, and his keeping it got him plenty of personal notice.) Young pitchers had their moments in the sun (Beattie, and for one brief, shining moment, the kid who “spit the bit”, Kenny Clay), but for the most part, flopped and flailed uselessly.

      The chaos and bickering around that team was far more uncomfortable, unpleasant and exhausting than anything that transpired with this team last year, including the A-Rod steroids explosion.
      ======================================================

      Lookit; I can’t tell you who or what to like, but I can tell you this: most Yankee fans I know are very pleased with this team. Many of them are even saying that, given the way they’ve looked starting the season, that this will be a “special” team (1998 special). I’m not sure I agree with that yet.

      I like most of the players on this team, even the ones whose flaws light up light a flashing neon sign. I like the manager, even as he double-talks his way past controversial issues, trying to follow in Torre’s footsteps as a media manipulator. You know how far apart we are on the issue of Cashman. And, as I said, I like Hal very much.

      It’s very odd; you found last year’s success off-putting. On the other hand, I practically reveled in it; for the first time in my life, I spent the big bucks necessary to go to five of the eight post-season games at the new Stadium (Speaking of which, are you sure you’re not also reacting a little bit to the loss of the old Stadium, the place where you saw the greatest triumphs and the most bitter defeats, and its replacement by what has been called The House That Ruthlessness Built?).

      I enjoyed every moment, even the knuckle-biters (especially the knuclke-biters, both of them were wins). Maybe I threw myself into it wholeheartedly because I turned 50 last year (A mid-life crisis at the World Series? Who knows?), and I said to myself, if I don’t do this now, when will I?
      =================================================================

      I DO remember having a feeling like the one you lay out in this thread. I felt the same way about the Ewing-led Knicks. I was a kid when they won in 1970 and 1973. I grew up on the whole team ethic/team defense/get the ball to the open man mythology of the Holzman Era.

      But the Knicks of the early 90′s…well, Riley knew they couldn’t beat the Bulls on talent, so he had them thug it up. And thug it up they did. It wasn’t pretty, and I didn’t like it very much. It was ugly to watch. Part of me didn’t want them to win it all. But fan attachment is a tough habit to kick, so when they broke through and got to the finals against the Rockets, I was deeply disappointed they couldn’t close that series out.

      It was even worse with the Van Gundy/Ewing/Sprewell Knicks. There were players on that team I positively detested. When they got to the finals against the Spurs, and San Antonio crushed them in five, my reaction was “justice is served”.

      But to make an obvious point: as a Knicks fan, I’d a lot rather have those days than the Knicks of the late 70′s, early 80′s or this decade. The Knicks mattered for that decade.

      The worst place for a team to be is in what I call “fan hell”; your team is bad, it has no chance of getting better any time soon, and team management doesn’t realize that IT is the problem, and is actively steering the team in the wrong direction with its foot all the way down on the pedal, full speed ahead. That’s where the Knicks have been. The Knicks haven’t mattered in nearly a decade. That is a far worse situation than rooting for a team you don’t like that is still successful.
      ===========================================

      Maybe, in the end, it all comes down to Cashman. Maybe you’re so convinced he’s a horrible GM that his winning a title, on his own, building a new team around the “Core Four” and having it all work without having to credit Buck, Stick, or Watson distressed you because you realize he had just got himself at least another five years (probably) to run the team, if he wants it that long.

      Is it just a coincidence that nearly all the players you don’t like are “Cashmanites”? A-Rod: a Cashman-inspired trade idea. Hughes and Joba: “Cashman’s big picks”, his “proof” that they’re developing pitchers from within. Burnett: a risky big-ticket pitching signing that reminded you of Pavano, Wright, Igawa, Brown. Cano: a product of the organization’s commitment to spending bucks on international free-agents; and a guy he trupeted as promoting to the majors to shake up the team in 2005. Vazquez: a Cashman trade that failed the first time and a gamble that he’s now doubled-down on. Swisher and Granderson: two Cashman trades for players who strike out too much to suit you; they’re Cashman trades because they’re analyst-driven in that the team acquired players with talent coming off bad seasons. Johnson: another analyst-driven move, replacing the gritty, clutch Matsui (in effect).

      Last year’s title validates Cashman. In your mind, he’s unvalidatable. This creates emotional dissonance. You want to be happy for the team, and for yourself, but you can’t be happy for him. He is an untouchable, a pariah, a persona non grata. His success alienates you from your own fandom. If you want to reclaim your fandom from this alienation, you might have to think a new thought: maybe Cashman is not so bad.

      ===================================
      Or not. As Bill James once said: “Snake Oil, $1.50 a bottle.”

    33. throwstrikes
      April 18th, 2010 | 9:03 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      But it’s the 21st century and baseball is not just a sports business anymore, it’s an entertainment business.

      Maybe that’s the underlying issue in a nutshell.

      You adapt or get left behind and maybe your unwillingness to adapt to the changes surrounding baseball are leaving you behind.

    34. Raf
      April 18th, 2010 | 10:22 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Gotta say…the amount of “Good Riddance” and other sundry venom filled comments around the interweb in reaction to what I’m sharing here is somewhat amusing.
      If it’s true that boos on the road are like cheers at home, then…wow…the love that’s coming my way now is a whole heap of a lot…

      I think that’s part of it too. Perhaps you’re a bit burned out from all the attacks, the time and effort it takes to write a column and to respond to the comments, and so on and so forth.

    35. MJ Recanati
      April 18th, 2010 | 12:33 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Last year’s title validates Cashman. In your mind, he’s unvalidatable. This creates emotional dissonance. You want to be happy for the team, and for yourself, but you can’t be happy for him. He is an untouchable, a pariah, a persona non grata. His success alienates you from your own fandom. If you want to reclaim your fandom from this alienation, you might have to think a new thought: maybe Cashman is not so bad.

      There might be something to that although, personally, I think it’s more that the Cashman argument has tired Steve out (as it’s tired us all out) more so than having to accept that the team Steve once passionately lived for is run by a guy who was validated last year.

      In my opinion, Steve is war-weary. We all get that way from time to time. I know I did a few months ago. It happens and we either get over it or we don’t.

    36. April 18th, 2010 | 12:50 pm

      Gee, I couldn’t disagree more with you about this current team. If anything, I think the varied personalities on this current team, and more importantly, the fact that Joe Girardi has let these players be themselves, has helped contribute to this team finally winning it all again last year.I also find it so refreshing that this current crew isn’t too cool for school, the way previous super-serious Yankee teams were.

      As for your “allowing a few bad apples to spoil the barrell,” I don’t get why you consider anybody who doesn’t act just like Pettitte/Jeter/Rivera to be a bad apple. Why are they apparently the only acceptable personality type? Besides, are any of this current team thugs, or monstrous, horrible people? And doesn’t everybody show up to play? You could root for the Mel Hall Yankees, and the Kevin Brown Yankees, but you have a problem with A-Rod and Swisher? I guess I don’t get that at all.

      Finally, have you given some thought as to how your complaints sound to the fans of the 29 other teams? You follow a team with 27 titles, a team that is willing to do whatever it takes to put the most competitive 25 players on the field every year. And you’re losing interest in the team because, among other things, A.J. Burnett is kind of flaky, and Joba is too cocky? Most fans wish they had “problems” like that!

    37. Evan3457
      April 18th, 2010 | 1:06 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      Last year’s title validates Cashman. In your mind, he’s unvalidatable. This creates emotional dissonance. You want to be happy for the team, and for yourself, but you can’t be happy for him. He is an untouchable, a pariah, a persona non grata. His success alienates you from your own fandom. If you want to reclaim your fandom from this alienation, you might have to think a new thought: maybe Cashman is not so bad.
      There might be something to that although, personally, I think it’s more that the Cashman argument has tired Steve out (as it’s tired us all out) more so than having to accept that the team Steve once passionately lived for is run by a guy who was validated last year.
      In my opinion, Steve is war-weary. We all get that way from time to time. I know I did a few months ago. It happens and we either get over it or we don’t.

      Yeah, that’s possible, too.

    38. INAC
      April 18th, 2010 | 1:43 pm

      “To be fair, that could be an element of this…meaning that I’m not bothered by their losses as much now…because there’s so few of them. And, I’m not as excited over the wins…because they win all the time.”

      This is a very legitimate point, and this is what many suspect eventually happened to Braves fans come the mid-2000′s. They were contenders every year in the playoffs, to the point where they couldn’t even sellout home playoff games.

      And, to be honest, I feel kinda the same way that Steve does. Not based on all the analytics Steve detells in this post, but rather just a general feeling. The Yankees murdered baseball the last 92 games + playoffs last year. They’re murdering baseball so far this season.

      I suspect once June/July roll around, and the Yankees are entrenched with the Rays and Red Sox in a tight division race, that things will return to the norm (and I suspect this will be the case for Steve as well…things are just too boring in the early going). Is it really possible to see the Yankees win or lose a game in April and take it as an indicator of future successes or failures for this season? Not in a logical sense. The Yankees were slow starters from 2004-2009, and every year except ’08, they overcame that to make the playoffs. Every game counts the same, yes, but it’s undeniable that the earlier in the season, the less impactful/annoying losses tend to be.

      Just my two cents.

    39. Tresh Fan
      April 18th, 2010 | 10:43 pm

      I suppose my most ardent years of fandom came in the CBS era (1965-1972) when I nearly lived and died with each Yankees game. I was a fourth grader when Messrs Topping and Webb sold the club and a highschool senior when Steinbrenner bought the team. Those were rather lean years, compounded by the rise of the once woeful Mets and the loss of every Yankees icon on the roster. I don’t know what it was like for the rest of you. Maybe the fact that the Yankees haven’t had a truly bad year since the George H.W. Bush administration has caused a certain complaceny with winning. But that isn’t how it os for me at all.

    40. April 19th, 2010 | 10:43 am

      susanmullen wrote:

      The whole thing has gotten quite big now.

      That’s a good point – and part of it for me too. It’s all so big that it’s a tad of a turnoff.

    41. April 19th, 2010 | 10:49 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Last year’s title validates Cashman.

      Well, that all depends on your point of view. To me, and some others – ‘tho maybe not many – last year’s title only validates the notion that the only way Cashman can build a championship ball club all by himself is to send a gazillion dollars on great players who were free agents from other teams.

      But, if you don’t see this, then you’ll never believe it.

    42. Corey Italiano
      April 19th, 2010 | 10:51 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Do you think that the Red Sox did this this past year?

    43. Corey Italiano
      April 19th, 2010 | 10:52 am

      @ Corey Italiano:
      To clarify, I mean spent a gazillion dollars to buy this seasons championship.

    44. April 19th, 2010 | 11:00 am

      Raf wrote:

      I think that’s part of it too. Perhaps you’re a bit burned out from all the attacks, the time and effort it takes to write a column and to respond to the comments, and so on and so forth.

      Not so much. I have to laugh at that stuff now. One guy at BBTF wrote: “Lombardi is pure bowl of dick.” I mean…com’on…how can I take someone like that seriously?

      Matt Cerrone, the other day, on this type of stuff said it best:

      http://matthewcerrone.com/post/525869484/listen-focus-do-your-thing

    45. April 19th, 2010 | 11:02 am

      @ Corey Italiano: The Red Sox spend -but no where near the Yankees. Look at the 20 highest paid players in the game. How many are Yankees? How many are Sox?

    46. April 19th, 2010 | 11:16 am

      lisaswan wrote:

      As for your “allowing a few bad apples to spoil the barrell,” I don’t get why you consider anybody who doesn’t act just like Pettitte/Jeter/Rivera to be a bad apple.

      By “bad apple” I meant that they were players that I have not warmed to yet – or just can’t warm to because of their personality and/or other trappings.

      You have to remember, guys like Pettitte, Jeter, Posada and Mo came up here as babies. I’ve watched them grow, seen them succeed, and become somewhat Yankees legends. And, they did it in a style that I like to see in my ballplayers. They’ve built up equity in my fan’s eye, etc.

      Like I said before, it’s rare for an imported newbie to “get in” with me very quickly. But, with special players – meaning those who perform, only worry about winning games, and don’t want to be, or allow themselves to become, a spectacle – sometimes (like Tex and Godzilla) I do like them right away.

      Others – like Johnny Damon and CC – take time.

      Anyway, back to point – I’m not saying that Swisher, A-Rod and Burnett (to name a few) are “bad.” I’m just saying that I’m finding it hard, personally, to root for them – and I stress “for them” as this should not imply that I root against them – and I’m wondering if that’s the issue for me here…that having a fair number of players on this team who are, personally, hard to root for makes the whole barrel into something where I can’t get thrilled over wins and don’t give a crap if they lose.

    47. Evan3457
      April 19th, 2010 | 11:23 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      Last year’s title validates Cashman.
      Well, that all depends on your point of view. To me, and some others – ‘tho maybe not many – last year’s title only validates the notion that the only way Cashman can build a championship ball club all by himself is to send a gazillion dollars on great players who were free agents from other teams.
      But, if you don’t see this, then you’ll never believe it.

      I see that he spent big money for three big free agents…to replace the free agents going out the door in 2008, at virtually no increase in payroll. So your objection here is…he’s doing a better job of identifying free agents who make a difference?

      And, of course, that’s not all he did to build this champion. That Sabathia, Burnett and Teixiera were essential to their winning a title, there is no doubt. But Cashman’s other contributions includ: he traded for A-Rod, for Swisher; he built a bullpen to assist Mariano from young, cheap pitchers with good arms (regular season, Marte came back and was key in the postseason), he filled in the bench on the fly with competent, cheap pickups like Hinske and Hairston. And, rightly or wrongly, he did not stop the axe from falling on Torre, which allowed them to bring in a young manager who knows how to handle a modern bullpen without burying half and overworking 2 or 3 key guys. He also deserves credit for talking Hal into spending the money for Teixeira, while agreeing to operate under the spending restrictions that forced him into cheap mid-season pickups like Hinske, Hairston and Gaudin, all of whom did their jobs.

      To some, the pitching acquisitions of Weaver, Brown, Pavano, Wright, Johnson, Vazquez, Igawa, et al settle the issue of Cashman’s competence for all time. But he’s been in the job since the last of those moves 4 years ago, so, in my opinion, the evaluation process doesn’t end in 2006. It continues.

      This team has improved significantly in the last 2 years, and not just because Sabathia and Teixiera are here. You also assume that just signing big ticket free agents makes a team better automatically. It doesn’t. Many of them backfire. Other teams (including the immaculate Red Sox) have signed big ticket free agents that havn’t worked out. There is no way to eliminate risk, especially with pitchers. When Cashman’s moves didn’t work, it becomes possible, even necessary, to critique them, and the decision process that brought them into being. But when they do work, that should be acknowledged as a positive, and not deflected as another evidence of failure.

      I see the bad moves, and the good ones. I also see the title in 2009.

    48. April 19th, 2010 | 11:28 am

      INAC wrote:

      Is it really possible to see the Yankees win or lose a game in April and take it as an indicator of future successes or failures for this season? Not in a logical sense. The Yankees were slow starters from 2004-2009, and every year except ‘08, they overcame that to make the playoffs. Every game counts the same, yes, but it’s undeniable that the earlier in the season, the less impactful/annoying losses tend to be.

      You know, I’m really on the fence with that – ‘tho it’s a great point to make.

      On one hand, I say “They’ve only lost 3 times in 12 tries. And, they’ve been winning easy. So, that’s why the losses don’t bother you now and it’s hard to get excited about the wins. After all, if they were playing the Red Sox or Mets now – would you not get excited about the wins and be pissed about the losses?”

      And, the answer is yes – if they were playing a rival now, to be candid, I still want them to win every game, etc. So, maybe this is just an April thing?

      But, again, being truthful, I’ve only watched maybe 4 or 5 games this year completely. And, while I watched some others in commerical breaks of other shows, there’s been some other games this season where I only saw one or two pitches – or less. And, that doesn’t bother me. That’s very odd. Usually, I need to know everything that’s going on…and, this year, so far, it’s just not there.

    49. Raf
      April 19th, 2010 | 6:50 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Raf wrote:
      I think that’s part of it too. Perhaps you’re a bit burned out from all the attacks, the time and effort it takes to write a column and to respond to the comments, and so on and so forth.
      Not so much. I have to laugh at that stuff now. One guy at BBTF wrote: “Lombardi is pure bowl of dick.” I mean…com’on…how can I take someone like that seriously?
      Matt Cerrone, the other day, on this type of stuff said it best:
      http://matthewcerrone.com/post/525869484/listen-focus-do-your-thing

      I was thinking in conjunction with the DMZ entry a few days back. I know you don’t take it seriously, but just the fact you have to deal with it seems a bit tiring, I guess. I don’t know but you would know better than me :)

    50. Raf
      April 19th, 2010 | 7:11 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Well, that all depends on your point of view. To me, and some others – ‘tho maybe not many – last year’s title only validates the notion that the only way Cashman can build a championship ball club all by himself is to send a gazillion dollars on great players who were free agents from other teams.

      But, if you don’t see this, then you’ll never believe it.

      Of course, if it were that easy, the Yanks would’ve won in 97 instead of being bounced the first round.

      The thing is, it’s an oversimplification. The players on the 96+ team weren’t all Michael and Watson. I still stand by the claim that Cashman is doing what Watson and Michael have done, add players via free agency, salary dumps and internally.

      If anything, the difference between now and then is that players make a ton more money. It was a big deal when Barry Bonds signed with SF for $7M a year. It isn’t like that anymore, players are making double, triple that.

    51. Raf
      April 19th, 2010 | 7:13 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      And, rightly or wrongly, he did not stop the axe from falling on Torre, which allowed them to bring in a young manager who knows how to handle a modern bullpen without burying half and overworking 2 or 3 key guys.

      I would wager that every manager has their “favorite toy” in the bullpen. I don’t think Girardi is any different in this regard.

    52. oldguy
      April 19th, 2010 | 7:32 pm

      I saw my first Yankee game in 1956 and have been hooked ever since. I learned that baseball was a business when the Yankees traded Moose from 1st base and then watched Roger Marris leave. I saw Ryan Duran pitch and Yogi replaced by Elson Howard. The Team has changed in complexion going back to when the Yankees picked up the Babe from the Red Sox.
      Your article perhaps written to extract a reaction lacks substance. Gone are the days of the free drinking and swinging players in the past or characters that do not know how to play as part of a team of highly paid professionals.
      The 2010 Yankees like that of 2009 are all business, as well they should be. If you want a bunch of fun loving devil may care players, they will likely finish 3rd in the pack with 91 wins.
      This years team have talent, desire and play the game as it should be. Joba is a kid, plucked from the farm and now in the big time. He came up fast and not only has to hone his skills but learn to live in the spotlight and be a professional. If he played for Texas or Tampa he would not have the problem of growing up fast, but he does. CC, AJ and Tex are examples of what most teams can only dream about, an organization with the resources to make great acquisitions.
      Steve- you claim to be a Yankee fan, I doubt it. I intend on sitting back and watching my team win perhaps more than 108 games, future hall of famers like Jeter, Posada and a list of All Stars light up the field and the league with talent and class.

    53. GCohen9782
      April 19th, 2010 | 8:32 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:

      Oh alright. In that case, just try to push through these feelings. Enjoy the game you obviously love so much and the team you’ve lived and died with for the last 37 years. No team needs to lose a good fan.

    54. April 19th, 2010 | 10:14 pm

      Let me second GCohen9782′s comments. I also agree with what Matt Cerrone said. Don’t let the haters get you down. Really, I doubt most of your readers, including myself, would even know that there was criticism of you out there, if you didn’t mention it yourself.

      As for myself, I hardly wrote in the offseason, but it was the best thing for me. I needed a break from writing my blog. I feel much more refreshed after taking that time away.

    55. April 19th, 2010 | 10:23 pm

      oldguy wrote:

      Your article perhaps written to extract a reaction lacks substance. Gone are the days of the free drinking and swinging players in the past or characters that do not know how to play as part of a team of highly paid professionals.

      The 2010 Yankees like that of 2009 are all business, as well they should be.

      If you want a bunch of fun loving devil may care players, they will likely finish 3rd in the pack with 91 wins.

      I think you need to totally re-read what I wrote. Your assumptions on what I want are not correct.

    56. April 19th, 2010 | 10:24 pm

      GCohen9782 wrote:

      In that case, just try to push through these feelings. Enjoy the game you obviously love so much and the team you’ve lived and died with for the last 37 years. No team needs to lose a good fan.

      Thanks Greg. It just may come back, in time. Nothing lasts forever.

    57. April 19th, 2010 | 10:27 pm

      lisaswan wrote:

      Let me second GCohen9782’s comments. I also agree with what Matt Cerrone said. Don’t let the haters get you down. Really, I doubt most of your readers, including myself, would even know that there was criticism of you out there, if you didn’t mention it yourself.As for myself, I hardly wrote in the offseason, but it was the best thing for me. I needed a break from writing my blog. I feel much more refreshed after taking that time away.

      Thanks Lisa. Trust me, the criticism of me, and what I do at this blog, is out there. But, again, I always consider the source. And, once I do that, it quickly quells any concern over what they are saying. And, Matt’s post is dead on – there are many who enjoy what I do here…and it’s those people that keep me going.

    58. Tom
      April 28th, 2010 | 6:03 pm

      I have been a life long Yankee fan as well, until last year that is. From the first time that i went to a Yankee game in 1983 (Dave Rigetti’s no hitter on the 4th of July against the sox)until 2008, i have probably attended close to 200 games, and watched every game i could, until last year. I lost my job in Jan 09 as the hedge fund i worked at went under, and ever since i can hardly watch a Yankee home game on TV not to mention in person, as i can not afford it. Just the sight of those corporate fans who can’t even name three players on the team, sitting in $2000 seats typing away on their Iphones, and Blackberry’s all game make me physically ill. The way they have treated the common fan is a disgrace, they have been relegated to the upper decks where it is still $85 a seat. $85b a seat is what i paid in 2002 for the second row on the field, no it gets you the upper deck. However the primary reason i am no longer a fan is that i simply can not root for guys like A-rod, Mark Tex, and some of the others who make between 20-25 million a year, there are at least 6 players who make around that. With 18 million people unemployed, and those who have jobs working day and night who won’t even make what one of these guys makes in a year in a lifetime. All for hitting a ball with a stick, or throwing a ball into a glove. These salaries were always a bit high, but in recent years it has gotten to the point where it is insulting, and actually hurts to watch. All of you who go to Yankee stadium and spend $500 a night for a few beers and a seat should be ashamed of yourself. Until the fans stop paying these ridiculous prices to watch a kids game, these morons who just happen to throw a ball fast or hot a ball far with a wooden stick won’t make more than you and your entire family will ear in several life times.. what has this world come to… $30 mill a year.. how can you applaud them?? what a joke

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