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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

"I've been a Yankee fan since 1949, when I was seven..." The legendary rock critic Robert Christgau is a Yankee fan, and he is not pleased about this year's team...

I’ve been a Yankee fan since 1949, when I was seven. Slacked off in the ‘80s before I was brought back on board by now 82-year-old Yankee radio man John Sterling and his partner Suzyn Waldman, a rare woman sportscaster. Sometimes I watch on TV, but so as not to impose on Carola more often follow with an earphone on my pocket radio or, when I’m writing, via mlb.com’s Gameday feature, which reports each pitch a few maddening seconds after it is thrown. If the game’s a good one, however, Carola and I often watch the final inning or two together. So in this topsy-turvy year I can report that we’ve both not once but twice witnessed the maddening closer Aroldis Chapman load the bases with nobody out only to luck into a grounder to my favorite Yankee, sure-handed Gio Urshela, who then started a 5-4-3 triple play—three seconds, high anxiety to game over, and note that triple plays are rare and usually involve everybody running on a line drive. We also watched Gerrit Cole finish off a 129-pitch shutout and saw the last five innings of Corey Kluber’s no-hitter because I’d noticed how the game was going on Gameday.

Read it all... (Note: It's before the wild card loss.) 

18 comments:

Leinstery said...

In two decades the Yankees have won one World Series and been to one more. You would have to go all the way back to the pre Babe Ruth days to find such a fruitless era in Yankee baseball. Cooperstown bound indeed.

DickAllen said...


You know, for a minute there, I completely lost track of what he was talking about.

Then he got back on track.

But I'm still not sure what his point was.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Beautiful writing.

Of course, he was wrong about plenty of stuff. Chris Chambliss was not "neurotic," Pat Dobson was still a fine pitcher when he came over, Bobby Murcer was never "a shitty centerfielder" (I believe he won a Gold Glove), and it just wasn't true that the dynasty Yankees "never lost the close ones." The World Series of 1955, 1957, 1960, and 1964 spring to mind.

But hey, who am I to contradict Robert Christgau? This is what we live for, and what we follow our team for, and who cares just how accurate the memories are, or the perceptions at the moment?

Anonymous said...

We’re trapped in the Doldrums. Here’s Mike Francesa from September ’18. "Noin" minutes that could easily apply to now. a 13-3 stretch, winning > 90 games (“I’m tie-id of hearin’ about da rekkid!”), but ultimately a shaky, uninspiring team.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yoKiXzRGEc

Christgau mentions the optimism of the Yankee fan - Booner, Cashman and Hal are exploiting that by aiming for the WC while maximizing profits staying under the cap. “Hey, you never know!” Wasn’t that the copy from lotto ads in the late 90s? But now we know, and it’s not working. Sadly it may take them a few years to figure that out and change course.

HoraceClarke67 said...

Damn, Dodgers won. Major bummer. Can't see them getting beat—this was the best chance. Ungodly long game.

Anonymous said...

Notice that Dave Roberts got Scherzer out of the game after only 4 1/3 innings even though he had given up only one run. But the subterranean tremors were evident, and he got the ball that Scherzer didn't want to surrender. That's the difference between a first-rate manager and a bumbling hack like Boone, who always deems it a fine idea not offend his big-ego thoroughbred starters by yanking them before the fatal damage is done and the game is out of reach.

I don't blame Christgau for harking back nearly a half century to muster a sense of pride about rooting for this team. The dysfunctional, inept mafia that has arrogated the Yankee trademark has severed any connection with the spirit and idea of the great Yankee traditions of the past--what Whitman called the mystic chords of memory are too faint to resonate in this arid present. Yankeedom is about excellence and victory--both of which have been permanently banished from this organization, on the field, in the broadcast booths (no one would have sentimentalized buffoonish ineptitude in the years Mel Allen held sway), and in the front office. This is not THOSE Yankees. As the years pile on, ever lengthening the distance between the champions of the yesterday and the also-rans of the today, the residual mystique will fizzle and die. This team has been running on empty for too long to live off the long-faded grandeur of old. This is the Roman Empire in its dying days--a crumbling ruin, brandishing the empty symbols and nomenclature of greatness, the substance irretrievably lost to the dust of time.

Deal with it--it's over. It will stay that way for longer than you will be alive.

Anonymous said...

In brief, Hal is the Yankees' Romulus Augustus.

Kevin said...

Let's not allow this cynically\ poorly conceived monstrosity that this team was; and perhaps the most egregious affront, the time sliced out our lives (never to be recovered) take away from a great essay.

It was just this side of amazing that regardless of who was in the lineup (or on the team) the same mistakes were made throughout the season. Players gunned down at the plate (23, second in the league), horrible base-running that somehow was both meek and crazily aggressive, terrible leads off of the bases and lousy angles taken when cutting across the bags... How can MLB hitters be so helpless against the shift, or lack any ability to lay down a bunt? Did the idea of hitting behind the runner fall out of vogue with the analytics dept.? THIS JUST IN, driving the ball into the power alleys over time will drive in more RBIs than homeruns (no accident that Nelson Cruz has been a FBI machine). But when you totally rely on analytics and your hitters are groomed, no grooved in launch angles you wind up with too many rally killing strikeouts and pop-ups. And then we come to the fielders who had to think of what to do AFTER the ball is in play! That alone accounted for quite a bit of perceived "lack of athleticism". This crap has to be laid at feet of management's lack of appreciation for Details of play that has produced winning baseball for over one hundred-fifty plus years of play. The idea that the Tampas of the game left the Yankees behind because of analytics is greatly overblown media bullshit. Don't take my word, just consider what you have just witnessed. We had a team that largely forgot, or never learned how to actually play the game game. I need to stop, it's late, I'm not going to proofread and..... Cashman built himself a Clockwork Orange of an organization, this is the result.

This teams' construction was predicated on the fantasy

Kevin said...

Damn, that "dangler" got torn from somewhere....

Anonymous said...

The Yankees do not totally rely on analytics. They have a little analytics "ghetto" that they sometimes consult, sometimes not. Teams like the Dodgers and the Rays DO totally rely on analytics, which is why they're more successful than the Yankees.

The Archangel said...

With all due respect, anyone who badmouths Bobby Murcer is a Grade A asshole. Period. I don't care how well respected you are or claim to be a Yankee fan from the past century.
You are just an Asshole and must be shrouded from this site.

I would smite him if I could
The Archangel

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...


On top of the on-the-field nightmares we've all witnessed, even the stats on 2021 are depressing.

Which team topped the AL this regseason in Strike-Outs? Your knee-jerk answer might by the NYYs. No, it was Tampa Bay (1542 to 1482). NYYs were 5th. So all of the Ks, which were unsightly, didn't hold TB back.

While we reasonably bemoan the NYYs hitting, in On-Base Percentage, NYYs had .322 and were 5th in the AL. Tampa Bay was 6th at .321.

But wait: In RBI, denounced by some as a useless stat, Tampa Bay was 3rd with 810 (Houston #1 at 834, Toronto #2 at 816).

Where are the Yankees? 13th, at 666. Bawlmore was 15th at 632, Texas last at 598.

Question: How does a team achieve OBP of .322 and yet NOT get beaucoup RBI out of that?

ranger_lp said...

@Anon...I remember the NY Lottery campaign...one time in a subway car, I saw that advert "Hey You Never Know" and someone wrote under it..."Yeah I Know...It's a Fucking Scam"...

JM said...

We should change the team name back to the Highlanders. Maybe Jack Chesbro is available.

Anonymous said...

@JoeFOB All stats are inter-related and have to be taken with a grain of salt when examined out of context. But to answer your question, I think it was low batting averages, combined with the strikeouts, GIDP, poor base running, getting runners thrown out on the basepaths.

These days, batting averages and RBI are scoffed at by the analytics guys. But they're missing the forest for the trees. In a key situation, with runners on base, and in a close game, a hitter's batting average and his RBI total loom huge. These stats are the results of actually getting something done, versus those that measure on base percentages or even slugging. When it comes down to it, in a "clutch" situation, I want a .300 hitter at the plate, even if his OBA is just .330, not a .250 hitter, even if the .250 hitter's OBA is .380. I want a 100 RBI man on my team, not a guy who hits 30 HR with only 60 RBI.

In fairness, Judge and Stanton almost made it to 100 RBI. But they didn't. And then if you compare guys like Rafael Devers (well over 100 RBI) to Judge and Stanton, well, there's the difference b/w the Yankees and the Red Sox right there.

The Hammer of God

Anonymous said...

Hammer of God -- Your comments make no sense. The RBI stat is misleading because a batter with a .400 OBA-guy in front of him will have many more RBIs than a similar hitter with a .300 OBA guy hitting in front of him. It's a team stat, not an individual stat, and therefore of dubious value in judging an individual player's offensive prowess. As for "clutch" situations, extensive examination of meaningful sample sizes show that there is no difference between a player's overall offensive numbers and his offensive numbers in "clutch" situations. And your stress on BA is also misplaced--with runners on base you'd rather have a .300 hitter with a .300 slugging percentage or a .250 hitter with a .500 slugging percentage?

Your fondness for the old-style stats does not compensate for their inadequacy in understanding a player's performance and value to the team.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

JM,

I'm pretty sure Chesbro is dead, or at least has a "dead arm". Which I think, is an old version of "we worked him until his shoulder blew out". Scott Proctor had nothing on him.

Might have been the 48 complete games (!).

Even Wee Willie Keeler couldn't save him.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

I like the "Highlanders" though. Kinda reminds me of scotch.