Wednesday, July 13, 2022

How we define success... an essay by our own DickAllen

From the meaty pen of DickAllen...

How We Define Success

I came of age in 1964 as a young boy of ten watching the longest succession of team winning streaks in baseball history come to an end. It was a wretched experience I didn’t fully understand. All around me in the Brooklyn there was a muted joy about this from wounded Dodgers loyalists, still grieving an unforgivable loss from six years earlier. It was a foul death and the end of the New York Yankees thirty-nine season winning record streak passed without the kind of joy it might have engendered ten years earlier. Too many people were grimly nursing beers in darkened bars throughout the borough, their only remaining desire in life to piss on Walter O’Malley’s grave when the time came.

The Yankees proceeded to become an afterthought in New York for a good many years. They were no longer hated, but neither were they pitied. When the Mets won the World Series over a vastly superior Orioles team in 1969, the Yankees simply didn’t exist.  The entire city had moved to Flushing, an aptly named place for those of you familiar with the environs. I spent many bitter cold spring days and nights in a sewer named Shea Stadium staring morosely at the Serval Zipper sign in center field waiting for summer to arrive. Yankee Stadium was something of a coffin in those days.

Then came the Seventies: George, Billie and Reggie along with the day of the 1978 playoff in Fenway. We all remember Bucky <Fuggin> Dent, but what won that game for me was a late Reggie home run, Mike Torrez the imbedded Yankee, and the most unforgettable play of the day: Sweet Lou in the glaring sun in right field, sticking his glove out and finding a ball in it. Had it gotten past him, the results (and history) would have been very different. Everywhere I went in New York that afternoon the city had come to a halt.  I still can see those old men gathered around a radio in Central Park, heads cocked to one side, listening with the knowledge they were bearing witness to history.

I won’t recite the great years of the 90s. Too many of you were witness to those historic teams. Right now, the Yankees are on another historic tear, both as a singular year that may transcend the most wins in a single season, and from a franchise perspective, well on their way to another winning season, currently at twenty-eight in a row and counting. While some of us may be well on the way to the grave by the time the franchise comes close to approaching the all-time record in 2033, and this being the advent of the All-Star break, it might just be a good time to gain some perspective.

All told, The Yankees have cumulative SIXTY-SEVEN consecutive winning seasons in two such streaks; the Sux have had three streaks totaling forty years, the Cardinals two years totaling twenty-nine. I won’t even bother to mention the difference in the number of rings. It’s not even close. The discrepancy between the success of the Yankees and relative success and failure of every other franchise is nearly astronomical. We’ve literally got nothing to complain about except for those barren years between 1964 and 1976, a paltry sum all things considered.

So, why are we all so unhappy? Sure, we have an owner who is the epitome of Wonder Bread blandness, a general manager who spends his time shopping at Goodwill and doesn’t seem to know much about acquiring talent, and a field manager who makes Sleepy Joe look like George Patton. The current Yankees team has surpassed any of our expectations and many of us are waiting for a downfall that seems inevitable. Our day-to-day hand wringing is very nearly myopic. It’s impossible to enjoy one of the best seasons in memory without lashing out at (insert name here) for the post-season failures of the last thirteen years in anticipation of yet another early exit.

I have a theory: we here have a higher standard for excellence than the powers that run the Yankees. We want to win. Every year. We have history behind us and those recent years when we were THE New York Yankees: the team everyone feared. Now not so much. If the recent series with the Asstros and the Sux tell us, this team is vulnerable. We can beat up on the many weaklings (what ever happened to parity?) but we can’t dominate everyone. Even Baltimore is on the rise. Watch out for them. The days of padding our stats on the O’s is over.

We have a higher standard, or at very least, a different standard for excellence than our leading lights. Harold the MBA, is a bean counter who mouths platitudes while keeping his eye on the bottom line. He points to the payroll as proof positive of his desire to win in spite of the common knowledge on this blog that money can’t buy happiness the same way acquiring the right players can. They are only interested in keeping us interested. Case in point: I am drooling over the discounted price tag on the MLB package and considering buying in for the second half, a sure sign of the failures to come. I have a good life and that would just about be the only thing that makes me miserable in the coming months.

All of us want the thrill of Paulie and Bernie and Jeet, Tino and Scotty, Darryl and Prince. In short, the only thing we want is the ring, while the ownership and management now want enough success to be profitable, the ring be damned. They say all the right things but words are cheap, just like a Joey Gallo at-bat. At this rate, The Intern will trade away more prospects for name brand players who won’t take us over the top. We won’t be rooting for Yankees anymore, merely rentals with a two-year expiration date. We root for laundry, but the bodies in them won’t really be Yankees because they haven’t earned their pinstripes. And we all know what it takes to earn that uniform; we hold them to a higher standard than Harold and The Intern. Those carpetbaggers will take the money and move on while promise languishes in Scranton. If nothing changes nothing changes.

Here's to another successful and profitable season. See you in eleven years when we break the great streak. Only we’ll be a mere shadow of those historic teams: during The Great Streak from 26-64, the Yankees were in the World Series twenty-six times, winning nineteen of them. The current streak from 93 to the present, we’ve been to the World Series seven times and won six of them. Past Yankees ownerships wanted to win championships at all cost and be profitable. The current ownership wants only to be successful as long as they remain profitable. That is what defines their success. We here have a very different perspective: we hold these Yankees to a higher standard than the people who run the show.


AboveAverage said...


Quite Meaty

BTR999 said...

Great post Dick, thank you!

Doug K. said...

Yes, great post. We do want to win more than the Front office. Partially because we know what they should do, partially because a lot of us are running out of time, and partially because a lot of us root for other NY teams like the Knicks, Giants and Jets and the Yankees offer us our only real hope.

That said, and not to nit pick (and I mean that) but prior to the expanded playoffs having the best record in the AL = World Series appearance so it was easier for the old Yankees.

We have to get past, at a minimum, two rounds of playoffs just to get there.

ZacharyA said...

Yeah, the format of the postseason in 2022 increases the difficulty of making the World Series by quite a bit.

I think I've posted this before as an example:

1920-1934 (Babe Ruth years)
7x best record in AL
7x World Series appearances

7x best record in AL
2x World Series appearances

I'm not trying to make an excuse for the front office, which is clearly driven by profit margins instead of ring-chasing. But we can't pretend the path to the World Series is the same as it was pre-1969.

DickAllen said...

There is that, Doug. You might call it the "wild card" in my argument.

I see it a bit differently: those teams from 26-64 missed going to the World Series 12 times. In the modern era, under the current (and preposterous) playoff scheme, they would probably have qualified for the playoffs in each of those years, save one, winning anywhere from 88 to 103 games - not taking into account the war years and one inexplicable 79 win season.

So, to my thinking, it is conceivable they might have actually won MORE Series given the current playoff system, or at very least, qualified for the post season for nearly every one of those 39 years.

But, you can't really count that can you? After all, I have it on the highest authority that the playoffs are a crapshoot.

Doug K. said...

DickA -

"I have it on the highest authority that the playoffs are a crapshoot."


AboveAverage said...

This year, more than many of the recent lost seasons we've had to endure will without any argument or debate show us all once and for all where the dysfunctional front office dynamic duo stand AND what they're made of.

Moves must and will certainly start today and continue over the next three weeks.

These moves must strengthen and boldly reinforce this team's chances of going all the way.

Failure to do so will result in me getting grumpy.

You're not gunna like me when I'm grumpy.

Truth be told is I want this team to win.

I want this team to win it all this year.

I want there to be a freeze-frame, bullet-time moment of reckoning where even all of our collective jaded eyeballs grow wider than a kid in a Margaret Keane painting.

2022 has so far unexpectedly provided us with some really exciting yankees baseball.

As Doug K said above ("partially because a lot of us are running out of time") I imagine in my own head that's he could be referencing the way the world is once again teetering (not-Jetering) on the edge of the abyss.

That NYC Nuclear Attack PSA that dropped on Monday has to have Yankees and Mets season ticket offices nervous.

(HEY and am I the only one that was disappointed that the PSA wasn't directed by Spike Lee and and featured celebs like Jeter, Snoop Dogg and Rosario Dawson sharing the NON-GREEN SCREEN on-camera duties. Any of you remember this NYC PSA directed by David Lynch -

But I digress:

Lets Go Yankees - boom boom boom boom KABOONE!

JM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JM said...

That's a great PSA, AA. No words needed to be spoken, all ominous music and incredible imagery.

Dick, I'd like to comment on something in your post. You said we want to win it all, and do it every year. I'm even more extreme. I want to win EVERY GAME. Every fucking one of them. Tomato cans or contenders or in between. Doesn't matter.

This is why I get so pissed off when Boone "rests" our best players, often for no reason other than he wants them to sit on their keesters for a day or two. Forget what they bring to our game. We're way ahead. We can send out Gallo, waiting for him to "come around."

And not to put too fine a point on winning every game, but last night's game was not really lost by Peralta, not alone. That one-out ground ball to Donaldson that he mishandled--a perfect double play ball, end of game--opened the gates. Wandy would've been rescued, and deserved to be. He got the DP grounder we needed. Donaldson, who I still don't like even when he hits, fucked that one up.

Isn't he still batting .226 or something? Yeah, I thought so. He's another guy we'll never be rid of because Cashman is a genius and he can't be wrong. For me, the everyday infield should be DJ at third, Ralph Kiner-Falafel, Gleyber, and Rizzo. The OF is Miggy, Judge, Stanton, left to right.

If guys get hurt or really need a day off after a grueling period of the schedule, then we have Carpenter (who could be a regular if we had a place to put him), Florial, Hicks (if he himself isn't hurt), Locastro, Gonzalez, and yes, Donaldson.

And we carry too many pitchers, half of whom are mediocrities capable of a good string of outings but then fall to earth with a thud. I suppose that's true of most teams, but this is OUR team. We should have better, but fat chance. Like all of the above.

AboveAverage said...

JM - well said, well said.

DickAllen said...

Isn't that the second game-ending DP that Donaldduck has booted this week?

ranger_lp said...

Built for regular season...not the playoffs...

The Hammer of God said...

@DickAllen Great post!

And yeah, that's the second one Donald has botched in three days. So he's cost us two of the last three games! Do the stat geeks even account for that in W.A.R.? Which is why W.A.R. is stupid bullshit.

@ranger_lp "built for regular season...." On that point, I have to disagree with you. If they were built for the regular season, they wouldn't fall on their faces halfway through every year. This team ain't built for anything except a half season, like 2020 covidball.

The Hammer of God said...

Yep, we hold the Yankees to a higher standard than ownership/management. To paraphrase a line from Paul Newman's movie Slapshot, the Yankees are supposed to be winners, "not this bunch of ... pansies".

13bit said...

Great piece, Dick.

And thanks, Duque, for the "meaty pen" image.

HoraceClarke66 said...

GREAT post, DickAllen. And great comments all around.

I think you might be right, Dick: the Yanks might actually have won MORE rings in those years with more playoff rounds. But they don't today—and that's in good part because HAL and The Brain refuse to acknowledge how the game has changed.

I agree, JM. I want to win EVERY GAME. Which I know you can't do. But I DO want a reasonable explanation for every loss, at least while nothing has been decided yet.

"We decided not to try too hard in this one"—essentially what our manager is saying—will not do. Especially considering what the Yankees now charge for everything...

HoraceClarke66 said...

...But you's not JUST the winning.

We loved those great teams because of the players on them, as well. They always seemed to go all out, and they always seemed to know the finer points of the game.

We were mentioning the 1976 Yankees yesterday. I didn't feel they were flops because they got swept in the Series. That team gave it its all, and went as far as it could go, before being finished off by a superior team.

I loved the 2017 team, because it seemed to always be all in, all the time...until it got beat by better pitching (and cheating).

These guys today, they have a lot going for them, and they seem to have some heart. But it gives me the heebie-jeebies watching someone like Cole practically have a fainting spell on the mound, then come close to tears afterwards. And let's not even get into the weirdness of Machine Gun Chapman.

It's not JUST winning. It's the game today—not least how dull and one-dimensional it has become, too, with all sorts of stupid gimmicks like the Manfred Man.

Or the extended playoffs themselves. Finishing first in the long season was a great accomplishment—even for a division title. It meant something. Endless rounds of playoffs? It creates cynicism and doubt, the feeling—more and more—that what we're seeing now is a mirage.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Oh, and a little nitpicking on DickAllen's fine article:

—If the Yankees finish with a winning record this season, which I THINK they will, that will actually make 30 in a row, 1993-2022, inclusive.

—Since 1996, we have actually been in 7 World Series and won only 5, not 6. Though I still want a do-over in that Arizona game, too!

ranger_lp said...

@Hammer of God - Politely disagree with you...Yanks get most of their wins beating up lesser opponents in both leagues. They don't meetup against those tomato can teams in the playoffs. Once they are in the postseason, everyone knows everybody's weak spots and focus on them.

The Yanks are collapsing right now because everyone, except for Cole, Hicks and Donaldson, are slumping at the same time. It's to be expected since the Yanks have been overachieving the last few months and most of the roster were performing at a high level...

JM said...

Hey! Great news!


Hey! Terrible news!

Pete Caldera
Aaron Hicks (bruised shin) says he hopes to be available to play in this weekend’s series vs. Boston. Just treatment and rest today, no on-field activity.

Mildred Lopez said...

The cross I carried...

I was 9 in 1964, little shit-talker growing up in western Pennsylvania. Just like all of you I thought the Yankees would always be good, because they always were. When you're a kid things are the way they are and they always have been and always will be.

I didn't have the Mets all around me during those formative years - I had the Pirates. Stargell, Manny Sanguillen, the Deacon, Dave Cash, Al Oliver, the Great Roberto. They churned out these fantastic players year after year, like they had a factory over in Callery that made them. And holy hell did I hear about it. By the time the Yankees got good again I was in my early 20's and baseball was not so magical as it is when you're a little kid.

Good thing I found out about girls along the way. Dulled the disappointment.

I want to see them win this year too. I don't expect it, like when I was 9, but I hope it. Every pitch, every game, I hope it. Some of us getting close to the end of our shift to get a little of that little kid magic would be a good thing.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Yeah, I remember all the times a bruised shin kept The Mick out. Oh, wait, that was his legs falling off.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Unfortunately, all it will mean is yet another Joey appearance.

Kevin said...

The Yankees are now collapsing? Seriously?