Monday, July 13, 2015

Dare we believe in the 2015 Yankees?

In my lifetime, three Yankee teams of destiny rose above all others:

1961: Mantle & Maris, Yogi & Whitey, Ellie & Bobby; greatest team ever... I was 9 years old; this is why I became a nut-cake Yankee fan.

1978: Reggie & Billy, Catfish & Thurman, Bucky Dent's HR... the season that reclaimed my lost and wandering Yankee soul.

1996: Jeter & Joe, Bernie & Mariano, Jim Leyritz' HR... saved me from a mid-life Yankee crisis.

These teams arrived almost exactly 17 years apart, like a comet passing Earth. As a result, every generation in this modern era, the Yankees have rendered unto humankind a team for the ages, a reason to believe.

Until recently, of course. It is now 19 years since the last great Yankee resurgence. It's like the scientists in California who study earthquakes and claim a big shakeup is overdue. (Note: The greatest Yankee team should have happened in 2001, after the WTC attack, with Tino's and Scott Brosius' amazing HRs on successive nights. But he juju gods cruelly turned their backs on us, suggesting that everything changed... and three years later, it did.)

So, let me state the question that all of us are privately, quietly, secretively - maybe even fearfully - asking:

Is this the long-awaited Yankee team of destiny? 

Obviously, I wouldn't be thinking this if Andrew Miller had blown yesterday's save. And there is ample time for even Boston to run away with the AL East, a bastion of mediocrity. Still, the Yankees seriously wounded the Fenway frat bros this weekend, and barring a wave of injuries, we should be in this race to the end. If we make the playoffs, who knows?

Could this team become a historical bellwether?

As The Master says, you can't predict baseball. But this team does have several potentially epic story lines.

1. A-Rod's redemptive triumph, much akin to Billy Martin's salvation. Even if you claim everything Alex Rodriguez has done thus far should be scrapped due to the drug allegations, this is still the year when critics must accept his place among the greats. Moreover, he seems at peace for the first time in his career. Maybe it's all p.r. Either way, a helluva story emerging.

2. Tex staying healthy and reclaiming his status as a great Yankee. Most people had written him off.

3. We need a comeback from CC Sabathia (a la Catfish in '78.) It might be brief, or even come in relief. He is clearly on his last legs. But he remains a leader on the team. He needs to win a few huge games.

4. The emergence of Brett Gardner as a great Yankee. He could take his place in the hard-nosed pantheon that extends back to Tommy Henrich - (Lou Pinella, Roy White, Paul O'Neill.) He won't make Cooperstown, but he could actually end up with a CF plaque.

5. The unveiling of a future Yankee fixture. Right now, that's Rob Refsnyder - but let's not put more pressure on him. He's got enough. Would it be Luis Severino, the pitcher? Aaron Judge in RF?

6. Finally, some incredibly unlikely hero - a Gregorio Pettit or Austin Romine - must emerge in the wars of October. Alphonso will say I'm jinxing us merely by mentioning these things. (I'm trusting him to maintain the negativity full bore through the All-Star break.) 

Listen: It's way too early to think of this as a team of destiny. Still, it's been 19 years since the last upheaval. If I'm lucky, I'll see get one more team in my lifetime.

And yesterday... damn, I'd swear that I felt some tremors.


KD, trying to remember my password that Google lost said...

Us Yankees fans have been talking this way in my office for the last month. We believe!

el duque said...


I'm hoping the password wasn't lyleoverbay.

Alphonso said...

That HR, yesterday, by the new second baseman was " big," even according to my requirements for superstar potential. A game changer.

Despite Miller not yet being Miller.

We are at the break.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

I finally look forward to listening to Yankee games, a dramatic improvement to last year. The post season seems a long loooooong way off, but what a phenomenal story it would be! At the very least, I never thought we'd be in this position at the break,,,,

ceeja said...

I picked them to finish fourth. But I also picked the Red Sox to finish fifth.

On the down side, there is fragility in their starting 5. Hard to imagine we don't see at least two guys go to the DL. They have nothing at second and right field. They give away a lot of at bats. Their defense is mysteriously poor.

On the up side, no one is going to run away with the division or the league. They've got young players who make any trade-deadline deal unnecessary. Despite a lot of holes in the team, there some true stand outs at the bat and on the mound.

Lets not wet ourselves, though. Re the 1961, 1978, 1996 teams, look what they did the year before ('60 team took series to 7 games; '77 team won the series; '95 team made the playoffs and lost in 5 to Seattle). It's not at all clear that this team has the talent to make a playoff run.

Honey Barnes said...

Oh the delirium. Lets not lose our grip on reality. Dare to believe but don't cancel your Carnival cruise in October just yet. There is some fragility here and we are really paper thin with old bodies. Trend lines are good, but don't let the mushrooms kick in just yet. It is still a nice view even without the rose colored glasses.

Alphonso said...

The true danger for the second half of the season; The likely return of Carlos Beltran.

KD said...

Duque, I think it was some take off on hafnerrox... I keep trying. now I have to spend time trying to tell how many items pictured are sandwiches in order to prove I'm not a robot. You anon posters know what I'm talking about. pain in the ass.

BTW, this Friday I get to see Tanaka for the first time. PLUS, our ticket agent has upgraded us to the 100 level. Buy season tickets for 10 years and good things can happen to you, too!