1990: A year in purgatory

Left field closing arguments: Rocco Baldelli
Melky avoid arbitration with the Braves

Sitting here in 2010, we’re used to Yankee success. Everyone hates the Yankees because they’re so good, and we’ve enjoyed, since 1996, five World Series championships, another two World Series appearances and 13 playoff appearances in 14 years. Talk about spoiled.

The Bronx, though, was not always home to baseball riches. Twenty years ago, the Yankees were downright awful, and somehow, during many of our formative years, we still found a way to route for the team. The Yankees in 1990 were the last Yankee team to finish in seventh place in the AL East. The team went an AL-worst 67-95 and were 21 games out of first place when the season ended.

As with most last-place teams, the Yankees managed to fail in every aspect of the game. Overall, the team .241/.300/.366, worst in the AL in all three categories. They hit 147 home runs, good for fourth in the league, but plated just 603 runs all season. Their 1027 strike outs were good for second in the AL, and their 427 walks were the second fewest in the league. It’s painful just to think about Alvaro Espinosa’s .224/.258/.274 effort over 472 plate appearances or Steve Sax’s .260/.316/.325 line in 680 plate appearances.

Things weren’t much better on the mound. Tim Leary, the staff “ace,” lost 19 games and had a 1.77 K/BB ratio. The guys behind him — Andy Hawkins, David LaPoint, Chuck Cary, Mike Witt and a plethora of spot starters — are better left to the history books. Hawkins, in fact, walked more than he struck out in 157.2 innings that year. Bad. Bad. Bad.

I remember going to games that year as a young Yankee fan, and the Stadium simply had a different atmosphere to it. The fans who were there knew they wouldn’t get good baseball. Maybe we’d see Stump Merrill throw a fit and get ejected. Maybe the opposing teams would be good. Mid-week games against the bad teams — the Indians, the Mariners — drew just over 15,000 fans per game, and Dave Anderson doubted even that many showed up. For the last game of the season, an entirely meaningless affair against the Tigers, just 13,380 fans were in attendance.

It was tough that year to find any bright spots. Even old reliable Donnie Baseball begin his slide toward retirement. Back problems knocked him out midway through the season, and he hit just .256/.308/.335 with 5 home runs. For those of us who idolized Mattingly, his struggles were incomprehensible. Kevin Maas, though, wowed us all with his 21 home runs.

For the Yankees, that season, George Steinbrenner hung over everything. The Boss was suspended in July, and the team couldn’t really do much of anything as his status was up in the air. Still, the pieces began to fall into place for a later run. The Yanks drafted Andy Pettitte in the 22nd round of the draft and chose some middle infielder named Jorge Posada in the 24th round. Shane Spencer was a 28th round draft pick, and Ricky Ledee came on board in the 16th round. On February 17, the Yanks signed some skinny kid out of Panama named Mariano Rivera.

The 1990 season was truly a rock-bottom year. Hensley Muelens, Mel Hall, Steve Balboni, Jesse Barfield. Who were these guys? The fans barely knew; the fans barely came. It was a different era in the Bronx.

Left field closing arguments: Rocco Baldelli
Melky avoid arbitration with the Braves
  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Terrible year. Dave Winfield was traded, and my Yankee fandom was shaken to the core. To make matters worse, crap hair bands were blasting away on the radio and MTV…..but soon, all would change.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Chapter IV – A New Hope, a.k.a. Nevermind by Nirvana

      • pete

        aka The Bends and OK Computer and to a lesser extent Pablo Honey

        • jsbrendog

          ok computer came out in 1997, long after nrvana had killed hair bands. the bends and pablo honey didnt kill hair bands. smells like teen spirit did along with soundgarden, pearl jam, and stp, alice in chains and the good city of seattle

          so, no.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            Exactly. While Radiohead represented a whole new kind of celebration, the wickedness that was cheesey-hair-crap music was long dead.

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            This. As great as Radiohead is/was, pete’s just wrong. Until ’95 Radiohead was kinda seen as a minor player, almost a one-hit wonder. I like Pablo Honey, but please… That album wasn’t all that big, other than the one song, and nobody at the time was heralding that album as the arrival of a great band.

            • Andy in Sunny Daytona

              It’s like “Bleach” by Nirvana. Even though it was out before 1990, the music world wasn’t ready for them.
              I think a good comparison to 80’s hair bands are the “reality” shows that infect television now. I hope a “Smells Like Teen Spirit”-revolutionary type show can change what is being shown by networks.

              • jsbrendog

                unfrotunately, whereas the cost of making an album is pretty much the cost of making an album, the difference in cost to produce reality tv (and jay leno) as opposed to scripted dramas is quite the huge gap

                • Andy in Sunny Daytona

                  I know. But if people don’t watch it, they won’t make it.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  You know, the reality TV thing doesn’t bother me too much. I think we actually have some really good TV right now, so if people want their reality TV, they can have it. We still have some really good sitcoms (Community, 30 Rock, Office, Sunny, etc.), and there have been some great dramas the last few years (Lost, The Wire, all the cable TV stuff). As long as we have good stuff to watch, I don’t care if people want to watch The Biggest Loser or whatever it is that’s popular.

                • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis

                  this. shows on sho and hbo have been overall amazing and the networks have been stepping up their game.

                  To me, USA has been by far the best in the past few yrs with psych, burn notice, royal pains all being top notch and coincidentally all starting up again

            • jsbrendog

              and to think, all this knowledge and no one wants to hang out with me at spring training lol

              • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Haha, dude, I’m considering buying a ticket down there just so we can get wasted and get into a fight over whether Mudhoney should have achieved more fame or not.

                • jsbrendog

                  one of the most unheralded bands of the past 15 yrs is……

                  the presidents of the united states of america

                  from…yup, you guessed it, seattle

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  You guys sound like crazy morons to me.


                • jsbrendog

                  crazy morons like a fox!


                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Oh don’t worry TSJC, we can wax nostalgic about Nice and Smooth, too.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick.

                  1990 rap flashback: http://en.academic.ru/pictures/enwiki/84/TimDogPenicillinOnWaxCover.jpeg (safe)

    • Klemy

      Well, we can all remember the music differently – because I liked hairbands and hated the onset of alternative music. I can’t stand Pearl jam or Nirvana to this day.

      One thing we can agree on is how awful the baseball was. Ughhhh…

    • Jason

      I actually have some warm memories of 90′, it was my first year with any baseball awareness, first year I really started to care. Roberto Kelly, Steve Sax, it may have been ugly but it was my first real taste.

  • Pat D

    May 11, 1990: The Yankees trade Dave Winfield to the Angels for the aforementioned Mike Witt.

    May 12, 1990: My 9-year-old self is told by my parents that the Yankees have traded my favorite player. Being 9 years old, I can’t comprehend how the Yankees could possibly do this to me. So, I start to hate the Yankees and root for whatever team Winfield plays for during the rest of his career.

    Actually, that’s not entirely true. While I made a point of cheering the Yankees when they lost those first couple of months after the trade, mainly to upset my dad, I never truly turned against them. I did root more for the Angels in ’90 and ’91 (unbeliveable to say now since I probably dislike them more than any team outside of the Red Sox and maybe the Mets) and the Blue Jays in ’92. When Winfield hit the big, go-ahead double in Game 6 of the World Series in ’92, I felt vindicated and my anger towards the Yankees largely faded away.

    I still bought hats for the Twins and Indians when Winfield finished his career with those teams, but I started rooting for the Yankees again during ’93 or maybe not till ’94, I can’t remember. I still remember Game 5 of the ’95 ALDS being one of my worst memories, since I had a feeling it was the end of the line for Mattingly. Even though I picked Winfield over Mattingly, an uncommon decision for someone who became a fan in ’85-’86 I’m sure, I sitll wanted to see Mattingly in the World Series. F***ing Mariners.

    But, yea, to think of 1990 now. It’s amazing they ever fell so far and one would hope they never will again.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      When Winfield came up big for the Blue jays in the World Series, I started screaming like a little girl. I was so happy for him.

      • Pat D

        Since I was still only 11 and it was a school night, I was ordered to bed. However, I kept my door open and could still hear the game on TV. As soon as I heard, I believe it was Sean McDonough, say that Winfield delivered the hit, I ran out of bed and started celebrating. It was a great moment for me.

    • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

      Not so amazing.

      While Steinbrenner was banned from baseball for illegal contributions to Nixon, Gabe Paul creates the ’76-’81 minidynasty.

      While Steinbrenner was banned again in 1990, Gene Michael was building the ’96 through 2001 dynasty.

      This newest dynasty is taking place with George faded into the background.

      I’ll be blunt: It takes a special talent to screw up a franchise with the resources the Yankees had. George Steinbrenner won only when he wasn’t calling the shots.

      With a less clueless owner, there are more rings, and far less cringe inducing moments.

      • MikeD

        Short Porch, I’ve pointed out the same to some of my friends over the years, although won’t go as far as you. Remember, he IS the owner, and the Yankees were a mess when he bought the team.

        Look back on where they’ve gone from 1973 to date and he is the single most important reason for that, for all the on-field wins, to the business wins (do you watch YES?), and for re-investing his money into the product, driving them to higher levels and more revenue. His ownership restored them to a power house in a few short years, and they have been the single most dominant team for the past 37 years. To blast George for his negatives is one thing, but he is also the man who went out and closed the deals on Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage that were equally part of that mini-dynasty.

        We are still in the Steinbrenner years, although a new chapter, but I do agree that they could have been even better. The 80s and all those traded-away young players turned it into the lost decade. I don’t expect to see that again. The Hal Steinbrenner/Brian Cashman duo are much more rational and seem to operate with a longer-term plan. Money and smarts? The Yankees moving forward may be really scary.

        • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

          Hey, we’re in a good place now. This is how it really always should be. Most storied franchise in the history of sports. Steinbrenner rescued the Yanks from the Horace Clarke years only to plunge us — when we was reinstated back to the game — into the Dave Collins years. Then post Murder’s Row + Dave LaPoint in the 80’s we are treated to The Mel Hall years. No excuse for that. Any of us could have done better. I don’t kiss the ring of someone who has more money than sense.

          Investing anything re: NYC in 1972 or in sports franchises generally was buying way cheap, and lucky/smart. If he had been a passive owner and silent partner, fine. That wasn’t in his DNA though, sadly.

          Any of us alive and sentient during the reign of King George here has slapped their forehead a thousand times at the stubborn, petty, short sighted and pig ignorant things that man did.

          George Steinbrenner COST the Yankees possible titles 1973 – present by being a complete horses ass and was only rescued when his own criminality banned him twice temporarily from baseball.

          RAB — the gauntlet has been tossed here. What say ya’11?

          • nmc

            Wow, it’s pretty naive to believe that George did nothing related to baseball when he was banned. I’m sure he was secluded in the Angry Dome the whole time.

            I think you’re falling prey to the correlation and causation fallacy. Just because that’s when it happened doesn’t mean it’s why it happened.

            Furthermore, your model doesn’t explain acquisitions made after his return.

            Comeon, George wrote the checks. He hired the guys who you say made the good decisions when he was exiled. Has he been pig-headed? Yes. Has he cost the Yankees? Maybe. But has he cost them more than he’s given them? No way no how.

            • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

              I’m sure George was skulking around, but in his absence Gabe Paul then Gene Michael had a lot of power and used it well.
              Look what happened when Cash was given the reins in 2005. Three times should be proof enough.

              But I was experiencing all this real time — trading for Ken Phelps, gutting the farm system, bringing in Billy Martin 5 times, the marshmallow salesman.

              You don’t need Steinbrenner to sign checks. Big deal. Any generic owner would do that.

              I ain’t kissing King George’s ring when I believe he cost the Yanks.

  • pete c.

    My son was born in 1/89, he’s grown up to see the team have multiple years of success. I keep reminding him it wasn’t always like this.

  • Eddie

    What sticks w/ me as the highlight (or I guess lowlight) of that season, was the Andy Hawkins “no-hitter” vs the White Sox. I still vividly remember Mike Blowers making an error opening the door for Leyritz’s drop flyball. In some ways I’m glad I became a Yankees fan in ’84. It made me appreciate the ’96 series and gives me some perspective/appreciation for what we’ve done the last 15 years. Guys 10 years younger than me (I’m 34 years old), haven’t had to experience rotten season’s like those. That said the real highlight of that year as mentioned above was the homerun streak of Kevin Maas.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I agree. I don’t say this to demean fans who either weren’t born yet or were just too young too remember it, but I’m glad I was a Yankees fans during those years. I think it helps you appreciate what happened in the 90s and what we have now on a different level.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        I agree with you absolutely. When they didn’t make the playoffs in 08, it was like, hey, it could have been way, way worse. Those fans who either weren’t born yet or had forgotten 90 seemed to be ready to jump off cliffs.

      • jsbrendog

        i agree, and i also want to throw out the disclaimer that this isnt about oh im mroe hardcore fan than you, you didnt see the bad yrs etc etc. just that teh epic suck of my first 4-6 yrs as a fan made the first 3 seasons of goodness much mroe amazing. i wouldnt trade 89-93 for anything because it made 94-96 that much sweeter.

        on a different note it even came to a point in the early aughts where i was bored with the team because they were so good every reg season and i just waited til the playoffs. I dont like that complacency. even with the aaron smal shawn chaocn days i still fell int o it…but not making the playoffs reinvigorated my fandom

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          +1. I agree with you. I loved and enjoyed the Yankees of the late 90s because my entire experience with them beforehand was so much awful crap. And I too got very bored with the early 00s. I’d imagine this experience is pretty common for people of our age who frequent RAB.

      • http://channel0.tumblr.com Brendan

        I’m eight years younger than you (turning 27 this year) and I’ve been fanatical about baseball and the Yanks since I could toddle. But 1990 was the first year I actually followed them, watched every game on TV, and I clung to my doe-eyed, seven-year-old hope that the Yankees had a chance to win each game.

        But I hurt right along with you older dudes, watching Donnie ground out to second four times a night, Oscar freakin Azocar starting in left, the Andy Hawkins debacle, Hensley Meulens’ inability to hit a breaking ball, “ace” Timothy Leary.

        My first actual happy moment as Yankee fan didn’t come until 1991, when Mel Hall hit the walk-off three-run homer to beat the Red Sox on Memorial Day. Donnie was always my hero but after that day, Mel could do no wrong.

      • DSFC

        This is why 1996 will always be the most special championship for me, no matter how many more I might witness. I was 5 years old when they lost to the Dodgers in 1981 and 20 when they beat the Braves in 1996. In between, my formative years were spent watching good but not great teams that always came up short in the end (especially on the mound – god if only they’d had some starting pitching in ’85-87!!), followed by the four unspeakably miserable seasons of 1989-92.

        Those four years were absolutely brutal….a parade of crappy players like Espinoza, Hall, Geren, Tolleson, Hawkins, Lapointe, Pat Kelly…..a merry go round of bad managers like Green, Dent and Merrill…..a series of hyped prospects who failed miserably like Meulens, Taylor, Johnson, and Eiland…..

        I remember in high school once (I moved to Virginia when I was a kid and was the only Yankee fan at my school), a Braves fan friend of mine went to NY for a vacation one year. He came back and gave me a gift – a postcard of Yankee Stadium with his handwritten caption: “The stands are empty – there must be a game” And this was from a Braves fan in 1992, when the Braves were exactly one year removed from being a laughingstock! It was as low a time as possible.

        That’s why 1996 will always be special to me. Hardly the best team of these past 15 years, probably the weakest of their championship teams, and yet my favorite.

    • Klemy

      I’m 37 now and I, like you, remember this in very much the same way. Good summary.

      It really does help us appreciate what we have now. Also, I’m helped to appreciate this more by living in Buffalo and having to watch the Bills and Sabres while they disgust me every year. The Yankees are my only sanity in the sports world.

      • Renny Baseball


        Strange though it may sound, with the exception of the late 1970s, from the late 1960s to 1990, the Mets were the more popular team in New York. It was hard being a Yankees fan in the 1980s – we could never get that elusive pitching strength to get us over the top and suffered, at best, perennial second-place finishes despite having a top 4 batting order of (Rickey) Henderson-Randolph-Mattingly-Winfield.

  • A.D.

    Things weren’t much better on the mound. Tim Leary, the staff “ace,” lost 19 games and had a 1.77 K/BB ratio.


  • the artist formerly known as (sic)

    on the plus side im pretty sure i had some bangin slap bracelets in 1990.

  • kimonizer

    The memories burn brightly. Enough to scar my retinas in fact. These are the lean years that make the last 15 years so great. It’s also why bandwagon fans never have the full range of emotions that long-term fans have for their team.

    Remember when we all though Maas might be the second coming of Ruth. Sheesh

  • jsbrendog

    roberto kelly we hardly knew ye.

    those were the days my dad would take me to games and we’d just move up to the nice seats without a problem. like a red bulls game. no one cared

  • r.w.g.

    Was 1990 a year shortened by a work stoppage?

    67 + 75 = 142

    Games in MLB season = 162 since 1961.. right?

    • r.w.g.

      Yikes.. is there a delete for this post?

      I saw 67-75 in the article, and then i went to b-reference and could have sworn it said 67-75 on b-reference as well.

      I wasn’t trying to be a smart ass about a typo, my eyes moved a bit too quickly over the b-reference page I suppose.

  • Bxbomber

    This should be required reading for any Yankee fan born after 1985 and any Yankee hater who thinks it was always peaches and cream in the Bx. I remember these days well which made the late 90’s dynasty even that much more enjoyable.

    • jsbrendog

      94 was like a wet dream after 89-93 and the strike was a square kick in the balls with a steel toed shoe.

      then 95 came and the rollercoaster of the first wild card season and the euphoria at making the playofs was like another wet dream that was interrupted by a car alarm outside and when you try to go back to sleep instead of nailing cindy crawford or pam anderson (remember we’re alking 95 here) you’re on the beach with roseanne. seattle mariners delivered another swift kick to the nards.

      the ups and downs of those tow years was crazy coming after the downtrodden hopelessness of 89-93.

      and then. boom, 96 comes. euphoria. jeter, tarasco, jeffrey maier. world series. and. destroyed 12-1 and then losing game 2 and heading to atl down 2-0. another kick in the nuts. at that point i was like, sigh, was nice while it lasted. and then. magic. pettitte, fielder, leyritz, mo. champs.

      and from there its been mostly gravy,.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        That 95 year scared me off sports gambling forever (and I was only 13). I bet a friend $20 that the Yankees would be the Mariners….and then they didn’t. $20 was a shit load of allowance money. Never bet on any sports events since outside of college basketball pools.

        • Mattingly’s Love Child

          be= beat

        • jsbrendog

          haha nice.

      • RL

        “instead of nailing cindy crawford or pam anderson (remember we’re alking 95 here)”

        I’d still nail either of them and be happy about it! :-)

        • Klemy

          Cindy is aging well while Pam is sort of hiding behind her makeup, hoping not to be shown in direct light.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Agreed. People who grew up watching the mid 60’s to early 70’s Yankee teams must feel the same as the fans who grew up watching the late 80’s early 90’s teams.

      • RL

        The 60’s/early 70’s were very tough indeed. I remember my uncle coming into town and brining me to games. We could walk up and get tickets to any game. The talent included the tail end of Bobby Richardson’s career, Horace Clarke and too many others to bother recalling.

  • Amy

    1990… the idea of me didn’t even exist back then. Wow.

    And wasn’t Mel Hall the guy who made Bernie Williams cry and then went to jail for raping a little girl?

    • AndrewYF

      Yep. He’s in jail now for at least 22.5 years. His full sentence is double that. Hopefully he never gets out.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        Bernie was a pussy back then. He needed Mel Hall to make him hard, into the MOST FEARED HITTER since Nap Lajoie….

    • kimonizer

      Didn’t he say something about Bernie looking like a baby deer. Man and Bernie had those huge glasses back then.

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        I remember going to games in 91 with my father and screaming as loud as we could, “Bunt Bernie, BUNT!” because we thought there was no way in hell this kid could get a hit. Who would have thought the ferocious hitter he would develop into?!

  • pete

    born in 1991. HA i say, HA

    • Amy

      Me too! *high five*

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I guess that explains this.

      Honestly, I’d rather have experienced the lean years than not, it has made the good years more meaningful to me. So, good for you I guess, but I think you guys are missing out on one of the better experiences of being a fan.

      Ha right back at ya.

      • Amy

        Yeah, I agree with you … when we lost in 2001, it hurt a lot, but it didn’t hurt me as a 10-year-old nearly as much as it should have because we’d won basically every year I could remember watching baseball, with the exception of ’97 (I barely remember ’95 at all) and I just sort of assumed, you know, that we’d win the next year or whatever. What I hear from my dad (a fan since ’64) is that, yeah, going through the lean years makes winning feel so much better. There will probably be more lean years in my lifetime … I look forward to the championships following those. =)

  • Mattingly’s Love Child

    1990….the first year that I remember being a fan……when people sneer at me for being a Yankees fan, I 1st bring up the 1990 team. I loved that terrible collection of filth.

    I remember my father trying to explain to me how the Yankees lost Andy Hawkins’ no-hitter. It was too much for my 8-year old brain to fathom.

    When Dave Eiland came up, I thought he was going to be a great Yankee pitcher to lead them to .500!!!

  • moonimus

    The dark ages as far as I’m concerned. I can still see another futile dive by Roberto Kelly and baseballs bouncing off his forehead in my dreams. Hawkins’ no hitter was ridiculous. I forget when it was that Scott Sanderson threw two one hitters in a row to open the season. Probably a year or two after the 1990 season. Just other (un)notables in that late 80s early 90s period: Jon Candaleria, Chuck Cary, Sam Militello, Matt Nokes, Steve Farr, Lee Gutterman, John Habyan, Oscar Azocar…the list could go on and on. Mel Hall though best first half hitter ever!

    • kimonizer

      …Butch Wynegar, John Montefusco, ugh

      • jsbrendog

        andy stankiewicz

        • Comrade Al

          Rich Monteleone, Kevin Mmahat, Steve Adkins …

          • DSFC

            Shawn Hillegas….man did he suck…..and my man and internet namesake Dave Silvestri!

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        There was one amazingly awesome thing about the early ’90s Yankees teams, though:

        http://lh3.ggpht.com/_cafpr_GnkNk/SVBVS2m_26I/AAAAAAAAJDk/OrrE6TbgvKY/Image_00546.jpg (safe)

        • jsbrendog approves signing Fernando Tatis

          BAM BAM

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            Fact: Hensley Meulens had a 415 OPS+ in 1992.

            No, seriously, look it up.

            • Mattingly’s Love Child

              It’s funny, I had baseball reference open, and was looking at the early 90s teams. Wow there was a lot of teh suck on those teams. But yeah, that is a pretty amazing 6 AB season from Bam Bam.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                6 plate appearances, 2 singles, one walk, one homer.


    • Johnny

      Habyan was awesome! Great pick off move… Maybe better than Pettitte!

      I loved that guy. Jeez. It was hard to find people to root for…

  • ColoYank

    Wasn’t 1990 the year Andy Hawkins went the distance in one game, pitched an 8-inning no-hitter (not a real no-hitter according to the rules, I know), and they lost 4-0?

    And geez, pete, my kids were in junior high when you were born.

    • Usty

      It was a no-hitter by 1990 rules. Fay Vincent’s “Committee for Statistical Accuracy” changed the no-no rules in 1991.

  • Patrick

    I remember going to one of those 1990 Mariner matchups. I was 10 years old and I asked Ken Griffey Jr. For a autograph and he said “f#*ck you kid”. Suffice to say I enjoyed his numerous injuries over the years. Living in Seattle now I think I’m the loudest guy booing him over here! But yes 1990 was rough watching those guys!

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Griffey always had a lot of bitchiness in him.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      I asked Ken Griffey Jr. For a autograph and he said “f#*ck you kid”. Suffice to say I enjoyed his numerous injuries over the years.

      Schadenfreude, holmes.

      • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

        Funny how this goes, but I remember having more damn fun at games during this period of awfulness than I do now. Perhaps it’s because, as Ben wrote, we didn’t expect much. The seats were cheaper, and you could move around at will without some Nazi in a blue shirt harassing you about it.

        It was a simpler time – a young Rob Van Winkle had just signed his first contract with SBK Records, and the military was going into Iraq for an actual reason. ;-)

        Anyway, I actually remember being excited about the Barfield deal because he was a power bat with a cannon for an arm. Little did I know he only had about a year and a half left of decent baseball in him.

        Still, he did give me one great Yankees memory – a walkoff homer where the Yanks were trailing by 2, bottom 9 against the Royals. The Stadium was near empty and we had worked our way all the way down to the seats right behind the first railing on the Field Level – Barfield connected, and the hallways leading out of the park were rocking with everyone’s personal version of “New York, New York”.

        I just figured out this was actually in ’89, after looking at yankeenumbers.com.

        Ok, forget everything I said. ;-)

  • Usty

    Those teams were so bad. I remember being one pissed off 7 year old the day they traded Rickey Henderson for Eric Plunk, Greg Cadaret and Luis Polonia.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      If it makes you feel any better, trading Henderson for Polonia may have been a massive talent downgrade, but it was a massive jhericurl upgrade.

      So, there’s that.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        No 15 year old girl was safe though.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Oh, let’s not let a little felony come between our love of the majesty that is Luis Polonia.

          Fun Fact: Polonia is the Pete Rose of the Dominican Winter League. All-time hit king, baby.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            He’s still playing there, right?

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              I believe so, yes.

              • Andy in Sunny Daytona

                He’s one reason why it’s so hard to take the DWL seriously. Is Fernando still pitching in Mexico? It wouldn’t surprise me if he is.

          • Comrade Al

            He was also the last out of Game 5 of the ’96 Series.

      • Johnny

        jhericurl? did someone say Pascual Perez?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/pp2.jpg (safe)

          How old was Pascual Perez when he played for us, really?


          • Mattingly’s Love Child

            Depends on if you’re talking cocaine years or actual years on this planet….

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada


          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi


        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          Even better, Melido Perez.

      • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

        And glove size.

    • DSFC

      I still can’t let go of my grudge against Rickey for tanking it that season. That was such an awful trade

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    1990: The exception that proves the rule.


  • paul

    Hensley Meulens…I rmember him being the next big thing…right….

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      I remember when Fernando Seguignol was going to be the next big thing, before we sold high on him for John Wetteland.

  • Johnny

    Lets not forget “PRIME TIME”!

  • Johnny

    Fun Fact: Our very own Dave Eiland pitched 30 innings of solid 3.56 ball in 1990!

    • Pat D

      Yep, the only season he had an ERA+ better than 100. In a whopping 30 innings.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Those who can’t, teach.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    The Yankees were 9th of 14 in attendance in 1990.

    The league leader (as they were for 1989 and would continue to be in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994):

    http://www.frozenpond.com/images/blog0706_10.jpg (safe)

    • Pat D

      Just further proof that winning = attendance. Unless you’re team is called the Tampa Bay Rays or Florida Marlins, of course. :)

      Why wouldn’t people want to see those Blue Jays teams. They had a ton of very good/great players and, oh, yea, they WON.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        They also had some of the highest payrolls in the game.

        They all go hand in hand. Spend money, have a good team, win games, raise attendance, earn more money, spend more money.

        Rinse and repeat.

  • Tubby

    For the last game of the season, an entirely meaningless affair against the Tigers, just 13,380 fans were in attendance.

    Cecil Fielder would disagree. He hit his 50th and 51st HR that game. That’s the first time (and one of the only times) I cheered for an opposing player. 50 HRs was such a big deal back then.

    Another memory I have of that season is Phil Rizzuto reminding fans that the Yankees were still not eliminated from playoff contention despite being 20 games back in early September.

  • http://myspace.com/lincolnsworld Link

    I remember being dumbfounded at the Winfield trade, they got absolutely nothing for him. Witt sucked. He and Pascual were supposed to be fixtures in the rotation lol.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      I remember being dumbfounded at the Winfield trade, they got absolutely nothing for him.

      Well, we were what you would call “motivated sellers”.

      Howie Spira

    • Don W

      I was at the game in Seattle when Winfield was traded. He was my favorite player and I had just driven 500 miles to see the Yankees and my favorite player play. I was going to two games so I decided to go to batting practice the next day. By doing this I denied myself the opportunity to see Winfield take his last cuts in pinstripes. As the game was close to beginning I began expressing my concern to my young wife that I didn’t see Winfield on the field or in the dugout. Minutes later the Kingdome video board displayed a message that Winfield had been traded to the Angels for Witt and he was rejecting the trade. I have a picture of the video board.
      Randy Johnson pitched the 1st game and the Yankees won both games I attended. Leary was denied a shutout in the 2nd game when Griffey went yard with 2 outs in the 9th, (a bomb). I didn’t even mind since it was Griffey who had a ton of buzz going at the time. These two games were the 2nd & 3rd ML games I’d ever attended.

  • JFH

    i remember that era well. my friends who were o’s and mets fans used to taunt me. this article in SI was at about the absolute low point….


  • http://deleted RollingWave

    It’s not just that but…

    Fred McGriff : 300/.400/.530 season for the 2nd place Jays (who were begining their awesome early 90s run)

    Doug Drabek : 22-6 231 IP 2.76 ERA, NL cy young for the awesome pirates team that year

    And what’s worse…

    Jose Rijo: 14-8 2.70 ERA 197 IP …. WS MVP .

    fun times. luckily the internet weren’t around then and most fans didn’t realize that the Yankees played like crap while 3 recently traded away guys put up a .930 season (and he was the highest OPS+ guy in 89, and would be the most IBB guy in 91). a NL cy young, and a guy had this line in the world seires

    15.1 IP 14/5 K/BB , 0.59 ERA 0.913 WHIP 2 wins

  • DSFC

    To be fair, they at least got Rickey for Jose Rijo, as opposed to getting Rick Rhoden for Drabek and (ugh) Dale frickin Murray for McGriff

    • http://deleted RollingWave

      Yeah, the trade on paper is worth it, though i’m sure that’s comforting when you turn on the 1990 WS and see him dominate and Ricky out of town.

  • cqmurphy

    so glad to see this post, as i often refer to this era (I am 32 years old) when acquaintances that don’t know me well try to paint me as a front-runner or something of the like. here are some of the things i remember most from this period:

    – the yanks trading away my FAVOURITE player: Dan Pasqua. Not that he was a part of the solution, but it just seemed like another thing they got wrong.

    – Lee Gutterman leading the team in wins coming out of the bullpen with 11 I believe.

    – sitting at my aunt’s kitchen table figuring out, based on his first week of play, that Oscar Azocar could go on to hit 80something HR in a season


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