He thought about it and offered four:
Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad with power.
The gristmills of the gods grind slowly but exceedingly small.
The bee always fertilizes the flower it robs.
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
You are welcome to interpret those statements any way you wish. In times of global stress, they often give me a sense of comfort. But let's be honest here: Beard wasn't talking about world affairs. He was a Yankee fan, talking about his club.
1. Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad with power...
Ever since the new stadium became a certifiable bandbox - our RF porch turning Damons and Grandersons into 30-HR threats (and in Grandy's case, a 200-K threat), the Evils have won and (mostly) lost with power. Last year was the third straight season with a lineup hard pressed to score three runs off a middling pitcher. I blame, in part, the defensive over-shifts that turned career .280 sluggers into .210 Mendoza Line zombies. As their averages tumbled, they just swung harder for the fences.
These days, the wonks and wonkesses say that batting average is an outmoded stat, and maybe there are better ones. But a .220 hitter is a .220 hitter, and the Yankees have goddamm too many. Now, it's the Aarons - Hicks and Judge - neither of whom did squat last year in their first taste. They - and the Yankees as a team - must ignore the porch and and start hitting to all fields. Is there such a thing as a Yankee batting coach with influence? I wonder. But I cringe at the thought of Aaron Judge hitting 30 HRs and batting .214.
2. The gristmills of the Gods grind slowly but exceedingly small...
For three years, Boston absolutely sucked. But they built a team slowly, painstakingly, and from the ground up. They're going to be good - real good - for a while. That is the reality of the AL East. Boston is going to dominate. Hal finished second in the bidding for Yoan Moncada. We might finish second for years to come.
This winter, we can only play the long game. There are no two free agents on the market that will put us atop the 2017 standings (without giant leaps of faith for certain players.) We will be chasing the wild card. But in everything we do, we must think of 2018 and beyond.
3. The bee always fertilizes the flower it robs.
I hate judging trades quickly, especially when they involve prospects. Remember how the YES crews gushed over Lance Berkman, "Mister Astro," because all we gave up was a no-name minor leaguer - Melancon, or something like that. Well, last July, we pleasured ourselves over the great packages obtained for Miller, Chapman and Beltran. We even praised the deal for Ivan Nova before our new prospects were announced. (A statement on Nova, by the way.) Next month, we will probably lose some of those young players in the Rule 5 draft. So if anybody claims the Yankees "won" a deal, it's bullshit. It's pure hubris.
From the looks of things, we're about to trade Brian McCann. I think we have no choice. His trade value will only diminish, and we have a fine backup catcher in Austin Romine. (If we keep McCann, we have to trade Romine, and we will get absolutely zilch.) We might have to trade McCann to Houston - a team we will be competing with for the Wild Card. The Astros will get a good catcher and a great team leader. But we need the pollen to get spread around.
4. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
This one baffles me, because - frankly, it never gets dark enough in the Bronx. Too many bright lights, too much fake electricity. We tend to overlook the real stars. I'm talking about Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner and Masahiro Tanaka. If we had 25 of them, we'd win it all.
We too often get blinded by notions of the next Babe or Reggie. This happened in August when Gary Sanchez arrived, and we likewise became drunk at the sight of Aaron Judge towering over the catcher. The truth is, the last great Yankee teams were not filled with A-Rods... but Paulys and Jorges and Andys and Bernies. We must not put all our hopes into one or two prospects - a Clint or a Gleyber. It's the depth of our system that matters. Somewhere out there is the next Scott Brosius. And we better not trade him in a package for Sonny Gray.