Introducing Zen Baseball

Open Thread: A night off
Former Yankees on Opening Day

As the Yankees and the Angels played an ALCS marathon on a cold and rainy Saturday night in October, I found myself on the edge of my seat and at my wit’s end at the same time. Extra-inning lead changes, blown opportunities, tightrope acts by the bullpen — it had me literally chewing my finger nails, literally pacing around my living room, literally a mess. It wasn’t, I realized later, that much fun.

When Game 3 finally rolled around, I wanted to try a new approach that I called Zen Baseball. It would still involve feeling the ups and downs of every at-bat and every pitch, but I also wanted to soak it in and have fun. I wanted to thoroughly enjoy postseason baseball with the knowledge that, no matter the outcome of the inning, the game, the series, I wanted to remember it as a I remembered the 1996-2001 run. Watching baseball couldn’t be a heart attack-inducing chore; it had to be something I wanted to do for the love of the game.

As the playoffs wore on, I further reflected on Zen Baseball. Here on River Ave. Blues and among those I follow on Twitter, the tension is palpable. If CC Sabathia walks a guy, if David Robertson hangs a bad pitch, if Joba Chamberlain scuffles with his breaking ball, Yankee fans break out the pitchforks. If Nick Swisher takes a bad route to the ball, if Jorge Posada can’t handle a bad pitch, if Brett Gardner misses the cut-off man, those watching the game, we’re ready to break out the lynch mob. What is exactly that Yankee fans are trying to prove?

Zen Baseball is the opposite of that. Zen Baseball is realizing that, over the course of 162 games, the bullpen will blow some, the tying run will be left stranded on base, the ball will take a bad hop, the starting pitcher won’t escape the third. Zen Baseball is realizing that even good teams will still lose 60 times a year, and Zen Baseball is just rolling with it. Zen Baseball is watching a bunch of people play a game we love and analyze to death, a game we wait for months on end during winter to come back and a game we mourn when the final out of the World Series is recorded, no matter which team walks away with the trophy. Zen Baseball is realizing that, as we nitpick, we still are fans who root for the same team and love the players on those teams.

Zen Baseball doesn’t mean I don’t care. Games don’t lose their tension, their importance, their immediacy. I’ll still question Joe Girardi‘s decision to micromanage the bullpen, to leave the starting pitcher in for a few batters too long, to pinch run, to pinch hit, to call for a bunt. I’ll still slap my head when the outfielders make bone-headed plays, and I’ll still feel the pain of defeat. But Zen Baseball is about recognizing how best to watch the game while realizing that a 162-game season is a marathon. We don’t need to down a bottle of antacids just to make it through Opening Week.

Later tonight, the Yankees and A.J. Burnett will face down the Red Sox and Jon Lester. It’s another thrilling pitching match-up in one of the game’s best rivalries. Let’s sit back and enjoy it. That, at its core, is what Zen Baseball is all about.

Joe’s Take: Enjoying baseball for the sake of baseball

Sunday was the new year. The first day of spring. Not only did we get the first meaningful baseball since November 5, but we got the Yankees. The team to record the last out of the 2009 season would also make the first out of the 2010 season. My body might have been at Easter dinner on Sunday, but my mind — or at least a good part of my mind — couldn’t stop thinking about baseball.

Once the game started, though, my joy became accompanied by tension. It’s there for every Yankee game, but especially on Opening Day. And especially against the Red Sox. I turned off Twitter and stayed away from the game thread, because inviting other people’s tensions would only make my own that much worse. Still, it was there. For much of the game the joy overpowered it, but in the late innings the tension hit hard.

That’s part of what I enjoy about watching the Yankees. It’s not only a hobby. It’s an unconditional emotional investment. As the Yankees go, so do I. That invites a lot of trouble if they lose or perform poorly. In last night’s game recap, you’ll notice that there were far more moments that annoyed me than made me smile. I went to bed happy because I got to see baseball, but not at the height of happiness, because the Yankees had lost.

Yesterday, 26 other teams got to play their Opening Days. Thanks to an subscription, I got to enjoy a good number of those games. Unlike the Yankees game, though, there was no tension. When Ryan Church hit a a three-RBI double off Ramon Ortiz to break open the Dodgers-Pirates game, I was glad. When Jason Heyward shellacked a Carlos Zambrano offering for a home run in his first major league at-bat, I was thrilled. When Billy Butler drove in two with a double off Justin Verlander I couldn’t have been happier. It’s not because I particularly like the Pirates, Braves, and Royals. It’s because nothing that happened could have annoyed me. It was pure, joyful baseball.

That feeling will never translate to the Yankees. The joy will be there, and it will be greater than with watching any other team. But there will alway be that twinge of tension. It will never go away, but after experiencing Opening Day for the rest of baseball I think I’d like to keep it to a minimum. I’ll never be happy when the Yankees lose, but I’d like to be less uptight afterwards. After all, there are 162 games, and as we saw last year, and in many years before that, literally anything can happen during a baseball season.

The Yanks are back tomorrow, and the tension potential is even higher because of their Opening Day loss. I’ll try not to let it get to me. There’s just too much joy in baseball to let things like losses in April get me down.

Open Thread: A night off
Former Yankees on Opening Day
  • poster

    That is how I used to watch games (the tension way). I’m going for the Zen approach this year, and it’s working.

    (BTW, game 2 of the ALCS was AWESOME, even in all of its fingernail chewing, all-hope-is-lost glory.)

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Game 2 was awesome. I’m glad the other 10 final playoff games weren’t like it though or else I would have had about five heart attacks a night.

      • poster

        I have no great stories, but when A-Rod came up I was really depressed and annoyed I had stayed up that late and was in total “Well, they can’t win ’em all” mode. One family member had left and asked us to yell downstairs for updates. So when A-Rod went 0-2 it didn’t help things. Then when he hit the ball I remember not even having enough time to sit up straight, but when it went over the wall I jumped in the air and yelled “HOLY SHIT HE TIED IT!!!”. For some reason despite bing down only one this shocked me much more than the first A-Rod epic blast.

        That’s why baseball is awesome. It’s the DRAMA.

      • the artist formerly known as (sic)

        Not me. Zen Baseball is about rolling with it.

    • Reilly Cox

      Game 2 was the best game I’ve ever been too. The stadium was literally shaking just like the old one. I didn’t use my seat the entire game. It was deafening after the A-rod HR. And I went the ALDS Game 2. That was awesome too, but the A-rod HR was louder than Teixera’s Walk-off.

      • poster

        Really? I always thought of game 2 of the DS was better.

        Note to self: Get tickets to game 2, or the first home game of the playoffs with Burnett pitching. He’s a playoff walkoff magnet.

    • Bo

      its working thru one game??

  • Beamish

    I used to live and die with Yankee wins…that made much of the late 80’s/early 90’s a miserable time. The strike might have actually been a good thing since I never got back that obsession.

    Now, the only time a Yankees loss really bothers me is when I stayed up until Midnight watching a retarded ESPN start or 2 AM watching a West Coast game. Even then I am more annoyed at the time than the loss.

    If I ever return to living and dying with Yankee wins I will stop watching. It is only a game.

  • Jamal G.

    Zen Baseball is realizing that even good teams will still lose 60 times a year …

    This and the realization that the Yankees are competing against 25 other major-league caliber players (non-Royals division) that will succeed around as often as the Yankees will within a single game is why (gratefully) I’ve never been so tense watching a game.

    Try appreciating how awesome Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are; how insane Kevin Youkilis’ plate disciple is; how Dustin Pedroia’s hand-eye coordination is off the charts. I have always been a huge fan of Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, and I wonder if one’s ability and/or willingness to appreciate the talents of the opponent correlates to how angry one is over the failures and mishaps of their team.

    • poster

      Youkilis sucks because he’s a douche. And his beard is stupid looking. Boooo.

      /Red Sox hatred’d

  • A.D.

    Biggest thing, the fans have 0 control over what happens, so can’t get too bent out of shape about things.

    • scott

      Well, unless you’re Jeffrey Maier, then you have some control over the outcome.

  • Rell

    I know exactly what you mean. Every time a Yankee pitcher failed to throw a strike in the postseason I felt this piercing chill.

    I don’t know what happened, but watching the game yesterday was a lot easier. Even Pedroia’s home run only stung for a few seconds. I don’t know what I did, but I like it.

    • poster

      That’s exactly what happened to me. I think what happened is that other things in my life have now taken up more attention, for once, than the Yankees do. I’m not talking about people, I’m talking about..actions. Like, I’m writing a screenplay, and am REALLY into that. Last year, I just was totally injto the Yankees, so when they did bad I was really bummed. This year? I love watching them just as much, but they’re not the only thing I love doing. I have other things I love to do, so when they lose I could just say “oh well”.

      Plus they won a WS last year too.

    • Bo

      You both have lost ur edge.

  • pat

    It’s an unconditional emotional investment.

    That you have absolutely no control over, and it drives me effing nuts. I hate sitting there and feeling my gut clench up every time that keebler elf or squirrel beard gets a hit. I don’t want to get pissy about it, but I just can’t help it. It’s in my blood.
    It goes both ways though, Nov. 4th, two of my best friends and I spent the night getting wasted, high-fiving and hugging complete strangers strangers in a bar on River Ave. One of the best nights of my life, I’ll never forget it.

    • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys


      […]hugging complete strangers.

      All you did was HUG them? You’re slipping! JMK’s right!

      Maybe it’s time…to…you know, pass the…wait a minute!
      THAT’s not a baton! Yuck!

      • pat

        Just make sure to wash your hands afterwards.

        • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

          Yep, those new disinfectant-dispenser stands in all the hospitals are so…handy.

  • Evilest Empire

    Great post; I’ve done my best to live by my own version of zen baseball but its really just about being chill. There’s very little instant gratification in baseball. Everything is a process. I didn’t check the live thread for the first game but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had traces of the WS Game 1 thread.

    Anyway, I’ve seen too many slow April starts to worry much.

  • poster

    One thing…I love the Yankees. Even if I do watch other baseball games, it’sall in relation to the Yankees. Like, I hope Matsui does well, because he was a Yankee (ditto with Damon) but I don’t want Heyward to do well because I want Montero to be better.

    Even in the Twins-Tigers one game playoff I only rooted for the Twins because I didn’t want to face Verlander. It was an awesome game, but when I watched it, I watched while calculating how it would affect the Yankees. I’m really more a Yankee fan than a baseball plan, honestly.

    • pat

      I’m really more a Yankee fan than a baseball fan, honestly.

      Completely agree.

    • bexarama

      I love baseball. I adore watching it and talking about it, etc. I just love the Yankees more, way more.

  • bexarama

    I try to be like this. Of course, I can be objective enough, and losses do not make me panic, but I just can’t be non->:( when the Yankees lose.

    Also, sometimes the drama is just worth it. ALDS Game 2. The 15-inning A-Rod walkoff against the Red Sox.

  • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

    “Zen Baseball”. Hmmm.

    You know, that used to be me. I used to be pretty OK with the ups and downs of posteason Yankee baseball. Got through the losses to the Royals and Dodgers when I was a kid. The long drought. 1995. Upset, yeah…but I dealt with it. Had it under control.

    And then 2001 happened. And Mariano threw that ball away. And my girlfriend had to yell at me to stop punching the bed and screaming. And screaming again–at Torre to bring his outfielders in. And…

    Maybe it was all the pent-up tension from the long post-9-11 break. More likely, it was the fact that I quit smoking, after 17 years of 2-packs-of-Camel-Filters-a-day, in April 2001. But I could no longer just shrug off the painful losses.

    Fast-forward to last October. And a certain ALCS game. My girlfriend had gone out for dinner, and was just retunring as the Angels took the lead. Unfortunately for her…
    I had snatched a pillow off the couch. And thrown it on the floor. And given it a savage kick…just as the door opened.

    Yep. You guessed it. The pillow went across the room, diagonally up in the air…and hit her in the head.

    Fortunately she was more shaken up than hurt.

    Perhaps I should look into this “Zen baseball” thing.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      And screaming again–at Torre to bring his outfielders in. And…

      I’ve neer heard that one before. Don’t know why Torre brought the infield in to begin with. Don’t know why Scott Brosius didn’t complete the easy double play. That still kills me.

      • poster

        My big never-heard-complained-of complaint:

        In 04′, in game 5, the Yankees were 6 outs away from the World Series when Torre brings in a struggling Tom Gordon. Now, we’re ONE win away from the WS. One. BRING IN MARIANO FOR TWO INNINGS. Don’t put in Tom freakin’ Gordon. Are you seriously telling me because of one freaking blown save you now are more willing to trust the first three of the final six outs to Gordon than Mariano? Just give the ball to Mo for two freaking innings, he’s not blowing two saves in a row, and certainly not with a two run lead. He can get a rest in between game 5 and game 1.

        • bexarama

          ugh. This. Especially because it was the high-leverage inning with guys like Ortiz and Manny due up, and Mariano ended up pitching two innings ANYWAY because Gordon couldn’t get an out.

          • poster

            The strange thing is, I’ve never heard anybody mention it. I was turning red from screaming at the TV. I couldn’t believe Gordon was in.

            • poster

              For the record, I still think that that managerial mistake probably lost them a trip to the world series. I think it was more to blame than anything else, because, no matter how much I stretch my imagination, I cannot imagine the Yankees losing with Mo on the mound, a two run lead, and having blown a save the night before. The odds of him blowing two games in a row, with a two run lead, just seemed so astronomically low to me that I couldn’t imagine why he threw the Sox a bone and put in Gordon.

              • bexarama

                not calling for a pitch-out on Dave Roberts is what really annoyed me, especially since Torre says he knew he was gonna steal. Duh. Everyone did.

                • Benjamin Kabak

                  What kills me is that Roberts warmed up on all of the pick-off attempts. Had Rivera not thrown over so many times, Roberts wouldn’t have been ready to run.

                  I have a litany of complaints about how Torre managed away the ALCS, but I’m not going to get into it now. It’s too painful and too far away in the past.

                • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  I think I said this somewhere in this thread. This was the final straw in my loss of respect for Torre. EVERYONE IN THE G-DAMN STADIUM AND HIS MOTHER, and everyone in America and Japan, knew Roberts was going there. WTF, Torre! Pitch-the-Frick-OUT! I don’t remember what it was, but I broke something in the apartment over that. And got yelled at by the girlfriend. It’s a wonder she’s still with me!

                  Oh, no, the final-final-straw™©® was Torre not pulling Joba off the field in Cleveland when the midges attacked.

                  Even Rawdger Clemens was telling him to pull the team off the frickin’ field.

                • poster

                  Hell, even Torre admitted that that may have been the biggest mistake he ever made.

                • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  It was certainly the LAST big mistake he made!

        • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

          You know…I may not have watched Game 5. Or 6. I’m not sure.

          I DEFINITELY hid in the bathroom for Game 7, just ask my girlfriend. I think I came out once, right around the time a certain caveman hit a certain homerun.

          My girlfriend said “Go back in the bathroom” before I could see the grand-slam land in the seats. So I did.

          • bexarama

            I’ve never seen Game 7 because I was busy that night, and then why the hell would I watch clips from it/one of the endless repeats of it on ESPN Classics. I am proud of this.

            • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

              Proud? No, but I’m not ASHAMED that I hid in the bathroom.

              I’m serious. The whole however-many-hours. I had a book with me.

              I’ve also never seen the Sox pile-up at the end of the World Series in ’04. I’m proud of myself; every time they showed it, I shut my eyes tightly. And plugged my ears. And waited an extra-long time to unshutter, just in case.

              MLB almost got me once, in 2006 or 2007; I saw a little bit of the mound, and a few socks. But I slammed my eyes shut just in time.

      • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        Well, the infielders should perhaps have been back, too.

        Here’s my logic:

        It was the final play of the game. There was one out, and the series-winning run was on third. The only hits Mariano was giving up, even to steroid users, were bloops just out of the reach of the infielders.

        If you play the outfielders back, and they catch a fly ball–chances are the run is scoring on a tag-up. W.S. over.

        You should move them up to the point where you are SURE they can throw out a tagging runner, or the runner doesn’t even go. If the ball is hit over their head– they wouldn’t have thrown the runner out anyway. This is for all the marbles! If you catch the ball on a fly, and the run scores–YOU LOSE.

        If the infield is at normal depth, and the outfield in a bit, the outfielders might catch a broken-bat bloop, aka a Mo Special.
        Torre leaves the outfield back– and what happens?

        They lose– on a bloop just over the infield.

        There may be some holes in my reasoning, and perhaps you don’t go to the extreme with it; but I think it’s more than just Monday-morning quarterbacking.
        I was also SCREAMING at Torre to pitch out against Dave Roberts in the year-that-never-happened.

        It just seemed to me that Torre stopped making the calls that might be questioned later, in the latter years. He rarely, IIRC, used a shift against pull hitters in the later years, or did something like–IIRC– a Red Sox manager did, pulling in an outfielder to act as an extra infielder with the winning run on third and less than 2 outs.

        • bexarama

          I had no problem with Torre bringing the infield in there. However, if I met Scott Brosius, I’d probably say “Thanks for the memories WHY DIDN’T YOU TURN THE DOUBLE PLAY!??!?!?!!??! sorry that was an automatic repsonse”

          • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

            OK, but then…WHY NOT BRING IN THE OUTFIELDERS??!!11!!!

            At least a few steps!

            ARGGH! You got me started again, and I’m supposed to be in bed, dammit!

    • bexarama

      I threw a shoe at the wall after 2001. It left a mark. It is still there. I look at it and I see that bloop and get mildly sick.

      • poster

        I stared at the screen blankly for like a half hour, then tried very hard not to cry myself to sleep.

        • bexarama

          this is pretty much what I did too, after my initial rage. Except I cried a lot. I barely ate for a couple of days; I just wasn’t in the mood. My mom didn’t watch the news for like three days.

          I think I told this story before, but my dad called the next day to congratulate me on the Yankees winning the WS because he went to bed when Soriano hit the go-ahead HR and then didn’t see the news the next day. I got really really upset with him on the phone.

          In a way, it was kind of good to get that upset about BASEBALL, you know?

          • poster

            I know exactly what you mean. They’re MY Yankees, and I’ll take the good times with the bad.

      • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        You mentioned the shoe thing before, I recall.

        Time to get a painter in? I mean, we’ve won the Series now, no need to make it a personal shrine to misery! ;-)

  • Nick L

    Very well put, there comes a time where you just have to sit back and enjoy the game.

    • pat

      Just not any Yankee games…. heh.

    • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      Yup. And that time is just after the Yanks take a 15-run lead. In the top of the 9th.

      Or, any time you hear “Enter Sandman”.

  • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

    It took me awhile to type up my explanation, Ben, but it’s up there now.

  • whozat

    Am I the only one who wanted the post to end with a barely-articulate, irrational rant by Axisa?

    • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      Will mine do?

      No? Oh well.

  • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

    I should add that the pillow incident took place in a different game, I think, after Girardi took out David Robertson, and, in spite of my screaming at him not to–why didn’t he hear me, I wonder?–and brought in Aceves, and…well, you know what happened. A booming double to the wall…AGGHH!

    • poster

      I know what you mean. I was SO pissed off at Girardi.

    • bexarama

      Funnily enough, the loss in Game 3 didn’t piss me off as much as the loss in Game 5. Just because between AJ giving up four runs without getting an out then totally settling down and getting dominant… then getting shut out for so long… then making that EPIC COMEBACK all with two outs… then puking it right back up… then loading the bases in the ninth inning algjlasjdlgjgsl… plus I knew it would lead to an excessive amount of “IT’S 2004 AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!” panic, and I was right.

      • poster

        Yeah, I was pissed off, but I didn’t think there was anything I would have handled differently like the whole Aceves-Robertson thing in game 3.

        Looking back, games 3 and 5 were GREAT games.

        • bexarama

          Yep. MLB Network had Game 3 of the ALCS as one of their top ten games of the year, and being objective, it was crazy awesome. Just a good game of baseball. At the time, it made me want to throw something, but you know.

          That said, when Mariano misplayed the throw to third base in that game, I literally screamed “GAHHHH!!!!!!!”

  • Thomas A. Anderson

    The end of the 2001 World Series was the first and last sporting event that almost brought me to tears. I was sitting on the edge of my bed, slack-jawed when Gonzo hit that bloop single.

    It wasn’t the fact that NY lost the World Series. The part of the loss that made me recoil in horror was that our Superman was felled by a Kryptonite broken bat. We all found out that Mo was not a deity, and in fact, human.

    I just switched the tv to ESPN to the Jets-Saints game (same game Kyle Turley went berzerk) and put my head in my hands.

    I didn’t fully get over that loss until last year when NY won the title. The 2004 collapse vs Boston didn’t bother me as much as the 2001 World Series did.

    Now? I can enjoy baseball for the wholesome, fun, daily 6-7-month distraction it was meant to be. Part of it is getting older and a little more mature, part of it is having real tragedy and pain and other bad stuff happen in my life the last 8 years.

    Losses by teams I root for don’t sting anywhere near as much as they used to. And they never will again. Paradoxically, and gratefully, I love sports more than I ever have. ‘Cause in the end, they are the best thing goin in this messed up world of ours.

    • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      As I noted above, 2001 KILLED me–but I blamed Torre for the crap with the outfielders. I can’t bring myself to blame the Almighty Mo.

      2004–I told everyone around me “That’s it. I’m not watching baseball any more. It hurts too much.” My girlfriend said, “well, I’M watching the Yankees. What are you going to do all those nights?”

      My righteous fury lasted the whole offseason. I didn’t ONCE look at

      And then opening day rolled around. And I just couldn’t help myself. I had to see my boys.

      But what are we talking about? There WAS no 2004 posteason, it was killed by that strike, right?

      And the earthquakes. Those were terrible. The floods might have been worse, though–how did the Yanks manage to fit the entire 40-man roster, and all the coaches, plus Cash and the Steinbrenners, on to that Ark? Thank Mo they did, though.

      • poster

        2004? That, like, happened?

        • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

          Yeah, the floods and earthquakes that cause the postseason to be canceled were terrible.

          Oh, and the strike, too.

          • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

            And the bears.

            • poster

              There’s a blank there, but I think I could accept this new reality.

              • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                Your scent is attracting bears.

                • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

                  You’re putting the whole blog at risk!

      • Salty Buggah

        You forgot Dinosaurs, eruption of all volcanoes of the world at once, the (temporary) complete reversing of the magnetic field, temporary lack of ozone layer, the birth of the Youkilis squirrel, Obama’s deathpanels (that’s right, they existed back in 2004), those evil bunnies murdering all puppies and babies, sneak-peek of 2012, etc.

        Man, 2004 was a tough year.

        • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

          You forgot Dinosaurs

          I NEVER forget dinosaurs.

          Carl Everett won’t let me.


  • poster

    I love this thread started out with how great zen baseball is then evolved (devolved?) into different stories of why we get really pissed off at the Yankees and the various things we did in frustration-the exact opposite of zen baseball.

    • bexarama


  • Al

    I love the contradiction.

    Ben’s first post on the home page deals with zen baseball – and not getting worked up over little things like bullpens blowing up etc (which I agree w/ wholeheartedly… IT IS A LONG SEASON).

    … then you scroll down and Joe goes through Damaso Marte’s sequence with Ortiz pitch by pitch… I thought it’s just one game?

    Ben – I think you gotta sell Joe on Zen!!

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      It is just one game. But it’s not like we can’t break down important at-bats. We’re going to do that. It doesn’t mean we’re getting worked up over it. Sometimes it will be a really good at-bat.

      • Al

        Easy… relax… I’m kidding… if you stopped overanalyzing… you’d stop getting traffic. We’re Yankee fans – we say we’d like to think big picture… but we have a football mentality.

  • bexarama

    Oooh! I have another non-zen story.

    It’s the 2006 playoffs. I’m in Urinetown (recovering theater children yay), watching Game 3 of the ALDS backstage because my friend brought her laptop with or a feed for the game or something, and they’re running a scene that my character wasn’t in. I watch the Yankees get completely owned by KENNY FREAKING ROGERS. In the seventh inning, Posada hits a leadoff double, and Matsui gets him to third base with one out on a groundout… and then Bernie strikes out and Cano grounds out.

    I yell a very rude word.

    I get harshly scolded by the director later because it turns out they could hear it on stage. :X

    • poster

      Zen baseball: Not just a mindset, a lifestyle.

      • pat

        Zen baseball: Not applicable to people posting on a Yankee blog at 1:20 AM on an off day.

        • bexarama

          A+. hah!

    • bexarama

      oh, and when the whole Pettitte-HGH thing was going on, my friends had to take me out to cheer me up because I was moping in my house at college like endlessly for a couple of days.

    • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      I remember going to a show in–was it ’98, or 2000? Don’t recall, but Bernie hit a big go-ahead or game-tying homer in the Series. I was at Irving Plaza, for…I don’t recall if it was an Iggy Pop show, Brian Setzer, or Ian Hunter, but before the opening band’s set, they put the game up on the big screen. A couple of times between the opening act and the headliner, they announced the score.

      After the show, rather than lose all the time it would’ve taken to cab it directly home, we walked across town–ducking into every bar, diner, etc. on the way, for a few seconds, to check the situation. One pizza-joint owner told us as we walked in, “It’s OK! Bernie hit a home run!”

  • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

    I don’t know if I feel better, or not, for venting my spleen like that, and spewing all that bile over the blog (sorry), but…

    Thanks for listening, guys.

    And now I REALLY have to go to bed.

    ‘night, all.

  • Renny Baseball

    Great post, guys, good writing! Joe, I couldn’t agree more. I was thrilled to see Jason Heyward hit his 1st MLB HR today in his first big league at bat.

  • ShuutoHeat

    I rarely blast the Yankees, if anything I am a bit too optimistic when it comes to the Yanks.

    Now what really boils my blood are the bad umps, bad announcers, ugly stadiums (looking right at you Oakland A’s) and douche bag players on the other teams (“the corpse formerly known as Ortiz” to name one). Also let’s not forget the bridge jumping bandwagon Yankee fans and trolls.

    So I guess it’s okay for me to curse, brandish my pitchfork and light my torch?

    • bexarama

      Yes. This. I love the team. They bring me much happiness just by being there. I am not gonna bitch and whine about them.

  • Joltin’ Joe

    I’ve been taking the Zen approach for the last few years, almost in the same sense as Billy Beane said he did regarding the A’s (not watching the games live, following live box scores instead, etc.) although during the postseason I slipped a little bit :D

  • Derby

    As much as I try to take the zen approach to baseball every game, it lasts about as long as the first yankee batter strikes out or grounds into a double play or our pitcher walks the lead off man or gives up a home run lol. Opening night my zen stopped with the youkilis triple. Well now my couch has its 2010 smacks and punches with many more to come ;)

  • BigBlueAL

    Speaking as a just as passionate Knicks fan as I am a Yankees fan I wished I could watch a Knicks game like I used to in the 90’s where every possession I would go crazy/nuts. The past 9 years have basically been meaningless games watching a crap team where there is no emotion involved anymore because I know they suck and dont expect them to win, and if they do win I almost dont care because I know it wont lead to anything. The only time I have felt this way as a Yankee fan since 1992 was September of 2008 when I knew we were done and it wasnt fun at all.

    Granted I watched the Yankees with this Zen approach from 1999-2004 because they had won so much I always assumed they would win and never worried no matter how bad things looked. After the 2004 ALCS I got so pissed/frustrated with the post-dynasty players that I started expecting the worst to happen which basically did from 2005-2008. Winning it all last season has brought a calm back in me that I am going to really enjoy this season because I have full confidence in this team like I had in the dynasty teams because they earned/deserve it due to winning it all last season.

    Granted if by the All-Star break we are a .500 team like we were in 2008 the good-will built up from last season might get flushed down the toilet :-)

  • Jake H

    Zen baseball is a great concept and idea. I will say that for most of the games during the year I try to practice this approach. But the games with the Sox ramp up the emotion more than anything else. When I know the Yankees are going to lose I usually just brush it off.

  • kunaldo

    I like it. We should totally get t-shirts made.

  • DSFC

    I like to think I practice Zen on a season level – I stress during the games, not in between them.

  • Tank Foster

    The only times I am able to adopt a Zen attitude toward things I love (the Yankees….golf….playing guitar, etc.) is when I allow myself to let go of the passion I have. I have, for example, quit golf twice, and each time, when I returned to the game, I was able to have a very relaxed, peaceful attitude about playing. But over time, the old passion returns, and the Zen approach evaporates. I was in med school in the late 1980s and residency in the early ’90s, the busiest days of my life, coinciding with the Yankees’ darkest days, so it was easy then to let go of the team and the passion during that period. When I started watching baseball again in the early 1990s (living in the south, so I watched – sorry – the Braves), it was very pleasant, peaceful, and Zen-like. Then, of course, came 1996. I was able to enjoy 1996 quite a bit, but when 1998 came around, the old passion and angst began to build again.

    I applaud anyone who can love something passionately and still have a Zen approach. It’s so bad with me, that it’s either all-in, passion maxed, or I have to fold altogether. I have almost zero interest in watching baseball unless it’s a Yankee game.

    I admit, not healthy.

  • YankeeScribe

    Zen baseball is easy in April. I doubt that this Zen talk will last through September

  • the artist formerly known as (sic)

    So is Zen Baseball something that I can, like, buy? Or is it more along the lines of Tiger Woods’ new method of Impulse Control? Or…?

  • Bo

    The zen thing and the just enjoy thing are great but that really doesnt fly in running a Yankee themed site that lives and dies by every pitch, every hit and every move is analyzed to the 10th degree.

    That edge is what makes rooting for the Yankees. Caring and giving a crap are part of the experience. How many other fan bases care like this? You may want to reevaluate what you do on a daily basis if you find ur not happy.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      I’m shocked — SHOCKED — that you don’t get it.

  • H.W. Plainview

    I’m going all Dayton Moore this year and trusting the process.

    I’m still going to get angry though when Chan Ho totally misses his spot and leaves a pitch up and in to Pedroia or when Joba shakes off Posada 5 times on 3-2 and throws a slider everyone in the universe knows is coming nowhere near the strike zone or when Girardi starts the revolving door after leaving in a starter too long and puts a reliever in with runners in scoring position and less than 2 outs in a tight game because that’s just poor baseball.

    But when it’s all said and done, I look forward to screaming loudly as the floats pass by on their way to City Hall.

  • Pat D

    I really couldn’t agree more with this post. There were times during last season when I felt physically ill because I let myself get too caught up in the game. I actually have this problem while watching the Giants (NFL), only much worse, basically just due to the violent nature of football and there are more teams that I truly hate in football than in baseball.

    During the game on Sunday, I got extremely mad, mainly because I hate looking at Fenway, I hate a lot of Red Sox players, and I live in PA, so I had to listen to Joe Morgan. Even Jon Miller finally got on my nerves, due to his high-pitched squeals every time a run scored after the fifth inning.

    Then I reminded myself that it’s the first game and there are 161 more to come and the Yankees didn’t beat the Sox until July last year and everything worked out OK. I didn’t have much success convincing my 60-year-old father of this. His excuse for not taking it in stride? “It’s THIS team!” Just goes to show how Yanks/Sox makes the blood boil a bit hotter.

  • Greg G.

    I feel like I go through the emotions echoed in Ben’s post every season. Every year, I promise myself I’m not going to get carried away. It’s just a matter of time before the emotional roller coaster kicks in.

    I will say that having two kids under 5, along with the sleep deprivation, has done a lot to give me some perspective.

    I also wanted to mention that this comment thread reminds me of a scene in the movie “Fatso” (featuring the late, great Dom Deluise). He’s meeting with a bunch of other overweight guys as a sort of “overeaters anonymous” meeting, but before long the conversation turns to all their favorite eating habits, including the memorable line: “Did you ever suck the jelly out of a jelly donut, then fill it with chocolate swirl ice cream?”

  • Alex S

    i had a ton of fun watching the Cards/Reds game yesterday

  • DontChaKNow

    I developed something for myself in very close games that I have only done twice. World Series game on Halloween 2001 and Game 2 of the Twins series this year.

    In both instances I decided the Yanks needed help from someone outside the game, so I took a shot for every out of the opposing team which I thought would be bad luck for them and I took a shot for every Yankee hitter up as good luck for them. The Yanks prevailed in both games, I threw up a lot both times and blacked out immediately after both games.

    A couple notes on this game. I was already drunk when deciding to do this and Last year I actually missed teixeira hitting the walk off, because I was busy throwing up. So, if you decide to do this remember to get drunk before starting and remember that you will probably be throwing up a lot and possibly missing pieces of the game.

    • Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      I actually have a pattern to my pacing, back & forth in the narrow space between the coffee table and couch, that I employ late in close post-season games. It involves a turn in a specific direction at the end of each leg.

      It has never failed.

      Of course, the floor needs refinishing now, but whatevs!

    • bexarama

      a shot for every out of the other team and every Yankee batter? O_O Not sure if serious

  • Hangoverologist

    I remember Game 5 of the ALCS as a real nail biter for me. I remember Tex coming to the plate with the bases loaded. My dad said that Tex was going to strike out. I, being full of adrenaline after the bases loaded, was on the edge of my seat. Then I saw Tex clear the gap on the first pitch. I was so ecstatic. I jumped up and down. I jumped so high I busted two knuckles on my left hand. I didn’t even feel the pain because of my excitement. Of course, the Angels walked off and suddenly my hand began to ache with pain.