Thursday, February 19, 2015

Numerology

As a fan of the New York Yankees, I have spent this entire off-season anticipating that this coming season is going to be a long one for the Bronx's best apostles.  Between the decision to not bring back David Robertson and the decision to bring back Stephen Drew, it appears to me as if the team's hierarchy has spent the winter writing "Baseball By Dummies".  If you listen closely enough, and press your ear all the way down to the ground in order to pick up Hell's frequency with minimal interference, you can almost hear The Boss rolling over in his grave. 

My Irish optimism is mirrored by the folks at the Atlantis Casino Sports Book in Reno, Nevada, which just released its "Over/Under" for every Major League team.  The "O/U" Line (not to be confused with the "OU812" Line so tell Sammy Hagar to stop doing his vocal exercises) for the Yankees is eighty regular season wins.  A sub .500 "O/U" line.  One has to hearken back to the early days of the Showalter regime, as Buck was crawling through the wreckage of the Dent, Green and Merrill years, to find an "O/U" line for the Yankees that projects them to finish the season with no more wins than losses.  

And then, earlier this week, the cherry on top of my sundae of diminished expectations arrived in the form of the team announcing that Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte shall all have their uniform numbers retired this season.  Each shall have his own day, of course.  So shall long-time Yankee player and coach Willie Randolph. Given the inane number of Promotional Days on the team's schedule this year, I am impressed that each man was able to be given his own "Day".  April 25 against the Mets is "Brett Gardner Replica Bat Day".  Nothing says tradition quite as eloquently as that...unless of course it is Dellin Betances Figurine Night, which is July 8 against the Oakland A's.

As someone who loved Joe Torre's Yankees and whose son came of age as a baseball fan in 1996 and who spent many a night seated with me in the living room watching the Yankees of the late '90's and early Aughts battle their way deep into October (and when the real world intruded in 2001) and November, I take no issue with honors being bestowed upon Williams, Posada or Pettitte although I do think the retiring of numbers has gotten out of hand.  At this rate, the only Yankees who played for Joe Torre whose numbers shall not be retired are Alex Rodriguez, Chuck Knoblauch, Chad Curtis and - possibly - Denny Neagle.  Also, I am very happy for Randolph, who as a baby ballplayer in the late 1970's was dropped into the maelstrom that was the Bronx Zoo and never flinched, while playing a standout second base and seeming to be in the middle of at least every other rally.  He shall be honored on Old Timers Day, which interestingly enough this year is a night-time event.  To my memory, it has never been so before - at least in the recent past.    

No sport pays more heed to its own history than baseball.  No team in baseball does so more than the Yankees.  At some point in time however, the train has jumped the tracks in the Bronx. The Silver Spoon Twins have proven over and over in the years since their father, Boss George, died that while each is his father's son, neither is his father.  Now, rather than doing what is needed to field a team that might actually win the AL East on the field in 2015 and to not price their fans out of a seat at the Stadium, the H and H Boys have co-opted a memory that belongs to others in the hope that while fans in the stands cheer all that Randolph, Williams, Posada and Pettitte meant to them, they will ignore the train wreck into which this team's present has devolved.  

Even if my sense of doom and gloom turns out to be well-placed, the longest summer at the big ballpark in the Bronx will still be better than what we have endured - weather-wise - this winter. Happiness occurs, after all, at the very moment when grass replaces snow as the ground covering of choice.  

-AK 

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