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?