Thursday, April 22, 2021

"Et tu, Coney?" The Yankees, facing an existential crisis, are in danger of losing the YES team

"When I die just bury me
"With a bat and a couple a balls,
"And tell 'em ,'Verne struck out, boys!'
"If anybody calls..."
 Robert Coover - 
   The Universal Baseball Association Inc.: Henry J. Waugh, Proprietor

Okay, this we know: The Yankiverse has gone mad. Whoever is running this fiasco - this hapless, miserable hoax of a sham - they've lost it. On his private Skull Island, Hal Steinbrenner is licking toads. In his penthouse office, Brian Cashman is playing online Settlers of Catan. In his boiler room, near the stacked corpses, Aaron Boone giggles as he spins the cylinder, mouths the barrel and clicks the trigger. Nobody is in charge. Nobody is coming to save us. And everything we heard about the '21 Yankees was a lie. 

Even the YES team - that final pillar of unrelenting (and well-paid) support - is souring on this wretched, last-place team. 

Last night - as the Yanks continued their meandering sleepwalk through the pre-post-pandemic world - Michael Kay finally spit the bit. Kay - an 8-hour-per-day talk machine -generally finds hope in the darkest caves of despair. But last night, in the eighth, he broke ranks after Gio Urshela was removed, due what turned out to be lower back tightness. 

Kay noted that Urshela - the most happy fella - loped to first on a grounder in the previous inning. It wasn't like Urshela to jog, he said, unless something was wrong. And Kay, without wishing illness on a Yankee, said he hoped something was wrong... because otherwise, the Yankees had a situation. 

And then Kay realized that the Yankees have a situation.

His name is Gleyber Torres, of whom we spent Wednesday pondering. Two innings earlier, Torres tapped a dribbler in front of home plate, just the kind of nuisance ball that can befuddle a catcher. In this case, though, no problem... because Gleyber barely ran. He was channeling Joggy Cano, aside from the batting average, which is well below his weight. He was easily thrown out. 

For the final two innings, the YES broadcast team struggled to find positives: a bloop single by Clint Frazier, driving in his first run of the year due to defensive indifference, and the upcoming road trip to Cleveland and Baltimore, tomato cans from heaven! But even Paul O'Neill and David Cone - generally unflappable supporters - found little optimism to share. Dead team. Dead air. 

Most of this week, the YES techies played clips of O'Neill battering water coolers and accepting farewell chants. At this rate, they will exhaust their bank of video diversions by May 1. What then? 

A long, long time ago, during the worst period in Yankee history, the lone reason to watch games turned out to be the poetic wisdoms of Phil Rizzuto. Deep into lost months of July and August, The Scooter spake delirium riffs about the squirrels in his backyard or the cardboard boxes in which his grandchildren built forts. In this millennium, Yankee fans have never experienced Augusts like the ones Rizzuto, Bobby Murcer and Tom Seaver - (R.I.P., Sirs) - so heroically faced, like soldiers on a doomsday mission. We can only wonder what Paulie and Coney will be like 70 losses from now. 

Then, of course, there is The Master and Suzyn. Last night, I didn't catch the radio broadcast. But I can imagine the pain in their voices. No homer holler. No win-warble. Just endless in-game advertisements and lost opportunities. This might be John Sterling's final year. Will his September be a fog of torture? 

Let me say it again: 

It's still early. It's still April. A 10-game winning streak will make this all go away, just a bad dream. 

But you can see it: The YES team is starting to crack.  In 1968, Robert Coover's magnificent novel painted a reality of imaginary players facing an existential crisis. The answer turned out to be simple: God exists, but he's gone crazy. 

We're not there... yet. But those mirrors on the floor, is it my imagination, or are they beginning to crack?


TheWinWarblist said...

"The Scooter spake ..."

So many years since we've heard The Scooter spake. So many long years. The Master is winding down. Suzyn will undoubtedly leave with him. Shall we all learn pidgin baseball Spanish and listen to the Spanish language station, yearning and hoping and yes, loving The Franchise, Our Franchise but not quite understanding?

I was once a native speaker of NY Yankees, but now I feel as if understanding has been ripped from my mind and I no longer spake fluently...

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

10-game win streak? I'd like to see 10 hits in a game first.

To clarify: 10 hits by the NYYs.

JM said...

Joe, it's a lovely dream, but only that. A dream.

We suck.

Ricky Ricardo looks like the heir apparent, and that's OK with me. He has the Master's spirit and, often, even his speech rhythms. He just needs to get a little more rambling, a little more fun. Goofier.

Anonymous said...

Ten hits? This lineup is so bad that 7 hits (in one game) calls for a celebration.

Ricky Ricardo is a bit too business-like, I agree. Throw in some goofy SAT words, like palindrome.

Last night, I heard a good one. They were talking about balaclavas. Got a few of those myself.

The Hammer of God

ranger_lp said...

I think we're 2 or 3 more bad Kluber starts away from unmitigated signing disaster...

Anonymous said...

If this IS the Master’s final season, I hope he doesn’t spend his days muttering “Duckduckgo” and texting the NJ Toyota dealership requesting a new Camry.

Anonymous said...

I can't recall a Yankee team that I have disliked more.

Doug K.

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