Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Two days until Scra-Tren!

Get ready, everybody! She's almost here! Opening day! 

At 2:05 p.m. Thursday, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Railriders will hit the frosty tundra of Buffalo to defend the 2016 Governor's Cup, the least coveted symbol of achievement in professional baseball. Later that day, at 6:35 p.m., - give or take a few white-outs - the Thunder of Trenton - home to America's great gastro disciplinarian, the "ox of anti-Oxycontin," national pill-czar Chris Christie - will set out to conquer the eerie folk of Erie, Pa.

That day, we might just become a Scranton-Trenton blog - Scrantren! - because of the outside chance that the mother ship already too heavily resembles the also-rans of 2016... and 2015... and 2014... and 2013... and beyond...

Listen: A few bad days in Tampa won't kill the 2017 Yankees. Sure, Alphonso will scream and moan - hell, we all will - but we've enough Colt 45 Malt Liquor in our ancient veins to know that early April doesn't matter in such a long, grueling season. The 1961 Yankees sucked in April. Perhaps the greatest Yankee opening day in history belongs to Russ Derry in 1945. (Two HRs to beat Boston.) Yes, these games count, but they just don't matter. (Case in point: What if we win today and lose Gary Sanchez for six months? Which matters?) 

But there's a really important reason TrenScran is more interesting: We can't see the outcome from here.

We already know what Gardner, Ellsbury, Headley, Castro, etc. will do: In a good season, their averages will jump 10 to 20 percent. In a bad year, they'll drop accordingly. We've seen the movie. That's why yesterday's depressing Fivethirtyeight report on plummeting Yankee popularity missed one critical element: 

The problem is not just that the Yankees haven't been winning: It is that they have been fucking boring. They remain a team of pre-destined mediocrity.

For that, we blame the front office - especially an owner, who seems destined to follow his father's early and incompetent footsteps. For eight years now, Hal Steinbrenner has signed overpriced, fading stars whose limitations are scribbled into concrete, leaving fans thirsty for a wave of youth to rise up and save this tiresome franchise.

Today, we hope those saviors are Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge. Hence, the almost irrational expressions of bile directed at Austin Romine, Gary Carter and Aaron Hicks. We need young stars - not a 10 percent improvement from Chase Headley. And if the big three get off to terrible Aprils - well, the most upbeat part of following the Yankees will be to watch Scra-Tre, or Tre-Scra, or the ThunderRiders, or the Rail-Thunds - whatever, you get the idea. 

It's going to be a long hot summer in America. And if the Yankees turn into Gary Carter and the wrong Aaron, hell, I'd rather be at the Scranton Ramada, waiting for Glyber. 

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