Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Amid the looming future chaos, the Yankees have a chance to snatch a ring. They better use it.

You cannot predict baseball, Suzy. But you can read the writing on the outfield wall: In Syracuse, it's ads for lawyers and hospitals, engines of the local economy.

On that note, I hereby predict another Yankee post-season - and one that will never be forgotten. 

I believe historians will view the 2021 season as a year of transition, the height of the Plague Era, before the sport declined in popularity. It will have come before the Lockout, before the craziness. Not to get heavy here: America survived Dick Nixon and Sharknado IV; it will survive Bronxie the Turtle. 

But baseball, as we know it, is about to change.

The owners are freaking out over the length of games and lack of action. As they should. The sport has become a tedium of walks and strikeouts, which amplifies the influence - and inaccuracy - of home plate umpires. Eventually, this will bring us  automated strike zones -with implications we cannot imagine. But it will happen.

Nor can we foresee the endgame of this winter's looming labor dispute. It could be a strike. It could be a lockout. At its roots, the battle will rival American politics: It will pit big markets against small ones. Do the bigger cities get to use their financial leverage? For Yankee fans, it's pivotal: If a NY team cannot use its financial advantages, it actually faces a tougher battle than other franchises.

Apparently, Hal Steinbrenner will never sell. Why should he? At 51, he's a billionaire, several times over. Nothing can touch him. Still, it's been 12 years since America's most storied sports franchise won anything, or even reached the World Series. We are a perennial also-ran, a franchise perpetually falling to younger, hungrier teams. And fans can get ornery. (See Sunday's booing of John Mara by Giants fans.)

Soon, we will watch the rise of Baltimore. I know, I know... some of you snicker at such a concept, but it will happen. (Ask Boston, after last night.) It is the Iron Law of Tanking: Finish last enough times, and you build a powerhouse of top draft picks. It happened in Houston. It's happened in Boston several times. But the Yankees will never tank. Like a dog after a milk truck, they instinctively chase that wild card. 

For now, it looks as though the 2021 Yankees will succeed. Barring a huge collapse, we will reach the post-season, at least for one game. We have lost the last four AL divisional series, twice by walk-off HRs. Once upon a time, the Yankees sharpened their spikes for October. Now, they look overmatched. Whatever happens next month, they will have to win in another team's park. 

Tonight, with a little luck and Gerrit Cole, the Yankees will lower their magic number to one. Tomorrow, they can clinch a wild card birth. If so, they deserve our unbridled cheers. Yeesh, it's been a hellish year. They've taken all the bullets, faced everything that could go wrong: Slumps, injuries, mystery ailments, meltdowns - they've been kicked around and left for dead. But here they are, on the verge.

As is baseball. 

And maybe, as is America. 

Let's get ready, everybody. Win tonight and we can rest this weekend. Did you feel that icy breeze? October is coming.


JM said...

Will there be a strike? I dunno. It doesn't seem to serve either players or owners, and the damage to the game would be maybe irreparable. Baseball had to wink at PEDs last time to allow the freakish home run numbers that drew fans back after the last labor wingding. This time...well, who knows what it would take.

Movie theaters had drawings and giveaways during the Depression. Stores at one time gave out Green Stamps and offered dishes and such at bargain prices, one a week until you built a whole set. Didn't they put prizes in soap boxes years ago?

These days, those prosaic enticements wouldn't work. Unless, maybe, teams gave away 50 or 100k to a lucky ticket holder at every game. Perhaps they could get away for only five or ten grand. That might help.

Of course, there are always Jeter gift baskets to consider.

Anonymous said...

"We have lost the last four AL divisional series" -- the 2019 Minnesota Twins remember it differently, although they'd prefer not to remember it at all.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Don't forget "layaway," JM, which they had into the 60s, at least, and which my mother used to use all the time. You selected some item in a dept. store, put a down payment on it, then paid something on it each week until you could claim it.

HoraceClarke67 said...

I have no idea what's going to happen to the wider economy, but I suspect Duque is right about baseball.

The owners are indeed right about what's happening to their sport, but of course they're "fixing" all the wrong things. 'Get rid of the minor leagues! 7-inning games! Runner on second to start each extra inning! No 40-man September rosters! Get Nike to help us sell really stupid gear!'

Nobody was complaining about any of that, and each such "fix" only serves some interest or another of the owners.

Things like lower prices and genuine involvement with the community? Fahgeddaboutit! Changing the culture of the game, or even just making pitchers throw in a reasonable amount of time? Meh! They're just not that much into it.

The players contribute in their own ways. 'How dare you boo us! And whattaya mean we should play hard every game?'

But yeah, I fear it's all riding for a fall.

ranger_lp said...

I'm not the brightest person on this site, but do remember when batters didn't step out of the batters box after every pitch and a baseball continued to be used until the pitcher wanted changed or it went foul and the games went no more that two hours thirty minutes...

Doug K. said...

1972 Strike One!
1994 Steeeerike Two!
2022 ??

Because last time I looked, three strikes yer out.

ZacharyA said...

Joey Gallo is hitting .159/.304/.420 in 214 PA as a Yankee.
He is hitting .075/.269/.225 in 52 PA with runners in scoring position.
He is currently in a 3-26 (.115) slump with 12 K.

At what point do we drop this guy in the order? Teams are going to start pitching around Stanton now that he's the hottest hitter on the planet. I know the Yankees are obsessed with the R-L-R-L thing, but Gallo's plate appearances in big spots are just unacceptable.

Gleyber Torres (.326/.420/.442 in last 50 PA) and Gio Urshela (.354/.380/.563 in last 50 PA) are both showing signs of life. Bump 'em up. Let Gallo hit his occasional solo HR from the 8th spot.

Anonymous said...

Gallo is 2-34 with 19 SO and zero RBIs against Boston & Toronto since joining the Yankees.

- Melquíades

TheWinWarblist said...

Children we have it right here
It's the light in my eyes
It's perfection and grace
It's the smile on my face

Tonight when I chase the dragon
The water will change to cherry wine
And the silver will turn to gold
Time out of mind

TheWinWarblist said...

ZachA, Gallo should be hitting lower in the order. Maybe even all the way down to 8th. Or 9th. Or SWB.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Agreed on Gallo!