Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A sad old team, going nowhere, waiting to die

Last night, the rusted Yankee pipe-wrench known as Brian McCann homered in the ninth inning, cutting the Redsocks' lead to five. As he bulldogged around the bases, McCann looked embarrassed, like the dad who comes home puking drunk at 1 a.m., and wakes his kids to give them candy bars. Alfonso used to call them "A-Rod homers" - blasts that pad personal numbers, but have no effect on wins or losses. The stadium was emptying. I may have been the last YES viewer in the Yankiverse to be watching. I couldn't leave. I felt like Malcolm McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange" - strapped into place, forced to watch the ultra-violence, and why? Because I deserve to be punished.

How did we get this way? The Yankees went from being a legitimately evil empire - four championships in five years, more money than planet Florida, a working farm system and a wild fan base - to this: We are tottering into a five-year pit, our prospects are mediocre, we're choked with expensive contracts, the new MLB rules are closing in, and one of these days, the Mets will win something, and NYC will become a National League town as fast as word about Jennifer Lawrence's nude pictures make the rounds in a college dorm.

We have the next six months to debate what happened. For now, here is my quickie analysis, forged from the foam-mouthed fury of watching Brian McCann drag his fat butt around the bases.

(BTW, the best thing that can happen would be a long losing streak, to embarrass the owners and the organization. Any wins now will be the equivalent of McCann's ninth inning HR.)

What went wrong? I say the Steinbrothers won too easily in 2009, giving their dad a death-bed championship. Hal signed the three best free agents - CC, Tex and AJ - while A-Rod was juicing himself into madness, and we got lucky. That world series victory:

a) Convinced Hal that he could buy a championship whenever he wanted. (Last winter, he pressed the same button, but the elevator just went DOWN.)

b) Galvanized the MLB billionaire owners into forming a united front against the Yankees, and pushing rules to limit the team's spending.

c) Shamed the brothers into not even bidding on international stars, such as Cespedes and Darvish.

d) Came with long-range contractual obligations to players who destined to fall apart.

d) Pressured Hal into flirting with his disastrous austerity $189 million payroll goal of 2012 - which he later abandoned, after jettisoning AJ Burnett and Russel Martin, and causing Cashman to famously say at the winter meetings, "Beggars can't be choosers."

Since 2009, the Yankees have steadily wilted. Next year, the lone "superstar," if that's the word, will be A-Rod - pushing 40, without his secret sauce, and with a pair of hips purchased on Antiques Road Show. Imagine this 2014 team a year older... or worse - imagine Cashman draining what few prospects our farm system has for the marketing illusion known as Bryce Harper. It's easy to close your eyes and think it's the mid-80s again. That's not Brian McCann circling the bases. It's Matt Nokes.

Last night, my despair gave way to a growing sense of amusement. The more the Yankees lose, the more Coney and O'Neill desperately seek hope. You have to laugh. This team is done, and it's been that way since June. We traded good prospects for players who could keep us barely above .500. Meanwhile, the Redsocks retooled. Next year, we will be in their rearview mirror. But Coney and O'Neill will be talking about the good swings Zelous Wheeler had in his last at bat.

And, hey, last night McCann smacked homer number 15! If the McCann Man goes on a tear, finishes with 20, people might look back in 10 years and think he actually had a decent season. Funny how those things go - you know - when you travel in time back to 1986.


John M said...

But he did bunt the other way against the overshift. John and Suzyn were thrilled. Then, of course, Prado hit a ball over the left fielder's head and McCann was still at second when Prado got there. Oops. Sterling was exasperated. "There's no way you can't score on a hit over the outfielder's head."

Oh, yes there is, Johnny.

KD said...

It was Beltran standing at third with his thumb up his ass that caused that debacle. why he couldn't play that one half way I'll never understand. Dude was actually heading back to second when the ball went over the outfielder's head.

John M said...

Thanks, I was only kind of half-listening and missed that part of the play.

Gee, why do you think the Mets gave up on old Carlos? Or Chris Young?

Is the Shane Greene miracle over? Is Shane Spencer still available?