Pinstripe pride and the power... The House that Ruth built... Monument Park... the greatest tradition in sports...
If anything still separates the Yankees from the garbage plate teams of baseball, it is hubris - a word chiseled from the darkest Greek tragedies: "Excessive pride or defiance of the gods, which leads to Nemesis."
Yep. Our old pal, Nemesis - who masquerades as Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, King Felix and a host of others, stemming back to the days of Frank Lary, "the Yankee killer."
Somehow - between the glad-handling politicians, the paid sycophants of YES, the increasingly withered press corps and an aging, all-forgiving fan base - the Yankees still project a grand image of success. Read their self-generated "news" clippings, and you would never guess that the franchise is now mired in one of the worst stretches in team history.
We are two years away from actually challenging for a World Series, and if certain youngsters flop, we could be saying the exact same thing in 2020. Our owner is bent upon cutting payroll to small market levels, while deluding himself into thinking the Yankees can simultaneously contend and rebuild. If the franchise's narcissism were a painting, it would be A-Rod with a centaur's body.
And Thursday was a really, really bad day.
The Yankees announced that James Kaprielian, our highest draft pick in a generation two summers ago, will have an MRI on his pitching elbow. This comes after he missed almost all of 2016 with the same problem. They rested him. It didn't work. Something is seriously wrong, and usually, these matters end up with a scalpel and a scar.
For the last eight months, the Yankees have touted their farm system, generating near-universal praise for the front office. For two years, the leadership took bows for its incredible foresight in drafting Kaprielian, who was a consensus first round pick. They are now beating the drums for Blake Rutherford, last year's top pick. If you read press releases, you'd think the Yankees have displayed godlike skills in drafting top talent.
Here are their last 10 years of first-round picks.
2016: Rutherford... Now being heavily hyped, often with a suggestion that the Yankees outsmarted all the other teams, since he was drafted at number 18. He's at low single A. Last night, he went one for three with two walks and a stolen base. Get used to updates: From now on, the Yankiverse will watch his every box score.
2015: Kaprielian... Suddenly - well, it has to be said - a potential washout. Yes, some do come back from surgery, and we cannot dismiss his character and his drive. But if he requires Tommy John surgery, well... all bets are off.
2014: Kyle Holder... Great glove at shortstop, questionable bat. He played 3B last night in Florida, a sign the Yankees are grooming him as a utility infielder. Let that sink in: First round pick = utility infielder.
2013: Aaron Judge, Ian Clarkin, Eric Jagielo... Judge remains The Great Hope, in part because the others have faded. Clarkin is a middle-of-the-pack starter (he missed a year with a tired arm.) Jagielo - our first pick - was traded to the Reds for Aroldis Chapman. He just hasn't hit, and they have turned him into a first-baseman: Bad sign.
2012: Ty Hensley... A Job-like career, injuries upon injuries. I don't know what he did in the past life. Sad situation. Wish him well. He is gone.
2010: Cito Culver... Poster boy for questionable Yankee choices. He remains at Scranton, signed this winter as a minor league free agent. Never hit. If lucky, first round pick = utility infielder.
2009: Slade Heathcott... Kept running into walls, some of which he created himself. Gone.
2008: Gerrit Cole... Ultimate hubris. He warned the Yankees he was going to UCLA. He told them not to draft him. They did anyway. He went to college. Oh well...
Maybe I'm just still just depressed about Kaprielian. What a gut punch. In their hubris-laden hype, the Yankees had him arriving this September, and maybe next year becoming a starter. Now... sigh.
Tell me, though: Under what metric does the Yankee front office deserve the heaping dollops of praise that it so relentlessly bestows upon itself? Somewhere, there must be a painting of Hal Steinbrenner on a centaur?