Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour...": William Blake had to be writing about the 2014 Yankees.

Last night, we experienced eternity in an hour, with the commercial breaks. The gods treated us to a perfect microcosm of the '14 Yankees: Fall behind, mount comeback - because the opponent sucks - reach tie, raise glimmer of hope... and blow it. It was like a journey back to 1968 - the sad farewell tour for Mickey Mantle, and the second season of our 10-year drought, when the Yankees became a confusion of retreads - (Rocky Colavito, Bill Monbouquette, Lindy McDaniel) - and twentysomething "prospects" - (Bobby Cox, Horace Clarke, Andy Kosco) - a mix perfectly designed to fall off a cliff.

To hold infinity in the palm of your hand...

Wasn't that what Jeter was doing last night, double-clutching on his throws?

Listen: It's our bad, our fault. We believed...

A week ago, the Yankees fooled us. They won four straight. We thought this was the fulcrum point, that from now on, the Yankees would chase the pennant rather than that fraudulent one-game Selig playoff - (which even if we won with Tanaka, would simply doom the Yankees to a five-game set with their Triple A rotation.) Now, though, we have simply returned those four games - (a "market correction," they call it on Wall Street, "catch and release" in fishing.) And we surrendered them in pure 1968 fashion - brutally, efficiently and with proper embarrassment.

The last days of 1968 were larded with slobbery tributes to the aging Mantle, some that still bother me - such as Denny McClain grooving the gopher ball for HR Number 535 - the second-to-last of Mickey's career. It was demeaning, a cheap humiliation, like Michael Strahan setting that single-season sack record for the NY Giants, with Brett Favre taking a knee. Come late September, will some pitcher with a 10-run lead wave the ball in his hand and tell Jeter what's coming? Dear God, will it come to that?

Around the Yankiverse, anticipation has begun for next week's newest Yankee holiday - July 2, Dependents Day - when Hal Steinbrenner becomes the most expensive trafficker of young boys on the planet. The Yankees will buy 16-year-old Latinos - some under secret contracts for months - for ridiculous sums. They are doing this because - well - they have no better idea. They will shovel money at kids whose testicles have barely dropped, making them teen millionaires - and we've seen how that affects the human ego, haven't we? From Jackson Melian and Wily Mo Pena onward, most of these kids will see their greatest fame from the contract they sign. Yet the Yankiverse will celebrate July 2 with hope, because - hey - it's 1968, and in our hearts, we know the deal:

If this team wins four in a row, it will simply lose four next week.

We are a bad team. Without Masahiro Tanaka, we would be one of the worst in Yankee history, on par with those rancid teams of the late 1960s and 1980s.

The trouble with old stars is that they stay to the end, and the end is never pretty. Even for Mickey. Last night, we watched our valiant captain, fruitlessly chasing Blue Jay base-runners, holding infinity in the palm of his hand. And for us, it was eternity in an hour.


KD said...

An old star continuing to play is one thing. It's quite another to continue playing a position he's no longer suited for.

why treat us fans so shabby? Are the feelings of ONE man so much more important than the respect owed us, the loyal fans?

el duque said...

Now, they cannot play Jeter at DH, because Carlos Beltran cannot throw. So all the flexibility they would have had - a half-night off for Jeter or Teixeira or McCann - out the window.

And Beltran is hitting .225.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

YEP! All of your collective pessimistic predictions this Spring are coming true, and then some.

Last night was a slow motion kick to the nuts,,,, and I'm still hurting!

ceeja said...

Thanks for the post of this classic Mantle picture. I remember it well. Is that Roy White (no. 6) in the background?

It's not that the team sucks that is so frustrating -- it's knowing that there is no light at the end of the tunnel and that we are going into another 10 year funk.