Jun
17

Those lovable Yankees

By

Smile if you love the Yankees. (Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP)

Forgive me while I try something different. We’re not going to analyze anything in this post, I just want to talk about the current crop of Yankees and how for the most part, they’re damn easy to like. I’m sure non-Yankee fans feel the exact opposite, but who cares about them. They’ll probably respond with something creative like “for $250M they should be likable.” Originality knows no limits, you know.

Anyway, the more I think about it, the more I realize how enjoyable this team is to watch and follow on a daily basis. Winning certainly has a lot to do with it, but the Yankees won a ton of games last decade and looked like a bunch of grumpy old men doing it. I’m not talking about clubhouse chemistry and all that stuff, I’m just talking about plain old likability. Gary Sheffield scowled his way to 6.4 WAR in three seasons in New York, but looked miserable 24 hours a day. The only time I ever remember him smiling was when he hit his 500th career homer as a member of the Mets last year. Kevin Brown was another one. He punched walls and threw his glove and posted 4.1 WAR in his two seasons with the Yanks, but was impossible to like. The list of grumpy, old, and productive Yanks goes on seemingly forever.

It’s pretty easy to pinpoint exactly when this shift towards more likable players began, it was the 2008-2009 offseason. CC Sabathia is a monster off the mound and seems like a teddy bear off it. A.J. Burnett can be infuriating when he pitches, but you’d be hard pressed to find louder cheers at the Stadium than after one of his pie jobs. Nick Swisher can make the routine look complicated on defense, but his outgoing personality and willingness to help others appeals to all. Curtis Granderson is the exact same way, even though he joined the team a year after those guys. It seems odd saying it, but these players simply seem to love playing baseball for a living. There were far to many that didn’t seem to appreciate the opportunity over the years.

Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP

Another part of it is all the young, homegrown players. For whatever reason, it’s just easier to root for the guys who grew up Yankees, at least I feel that way. Maybe it’s because they’re closer to my age and I can relate. Robbie Cano‘s smile was MVP caliber long before his game was. Melky Cabrera was doing all sorts of silly stuff that never failed to put a smile on your face. Brett Gardner makes us all feel warm and fuzzy inside just because we can’t remember the last time the team had a player that exciting to watch. Frankie Cervelli … don’t even start with him. He could run for mayor of New York and I’m convinced he’d finish no lower than third in the voting. People love that guy.

And of course, there’s the old timers. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada are beloved for being far more than great players. They’re beloved because they are all great people with no egos. I’m adding Alex Rodriguez to this group since he’s the longest tenured player on the team after those guys. He’s definitely a bit of a weird fella off the field, but he’s hands down the greatest player I’ve ever seen in pinstripes, and chances are the same is true for you. We all love a good comeback story, and his performance following last year’s PED fiasco and hip surgery should be enough to convince even the most determined of haters that he’s an amazing player and we’re lucky to have him. Watching world class players like A-Rod are what makes being a Yankee fan great.

Sure, Burnett stunk and the Yanks lost last night, but in the end who cares. In a week it’ll nothing but a distant memory and in the month it’ll be completely forgotten about. The Yanks are fun to root for not just because they’re a great team, but because they have great players who make the game fun to watch. The corporate baseball playing robots are gone, since replaced by players who would sleep at the park if you let them. If you can’t find this team easy to cheer for, then you take this game far too seriously.

Categories : Musings

212 Comments»

  1. deuce bag poster says:

    One guy on a Twins blog (Twinkie Town) said that the Yankees were the second least likeable group of people ever.

    The least likeable group of people ever? The Nazis.

    Yes friends, this person claimed that the only group of people less likeable than the 2010 NY Yankees were the Nazis.

    I kid you not.

    ??????

  2. bexarama says:

    I really, really love this thread. I have nothing but buffing fabrics for it.

    /last thread’d

    No, but I love this team. In the past, it’s been very hard to root for some players, even when they won. Just love my Yankees. :)

  3. There’s actually been a huge and pretty stupid backlash against Posada recently (this year and last). You’d think after 2008 people would be more sensible.

  4. (golf clap)

    For me, though… I love pretty much all Yankees. I’m probably a little bit crazy/odd that way. I love everyone on this team, but I loved Sheff and Brown and Weaver and all the old, surly, sometimes shitty Yankees, the ones that other people hated.

    Hell, I even have a special place in my heart for fat, drunk, and stupid Sidney Ponson. Sure, he was a miserable fuck who was awful at both baseball and life, but he was OUR miserable fuck who was awful at both baseball and life.

    Two of my favorite Yankees of all time were LaTroy Hawkins and Morgan Ensberg. Just because they pissed off the stupid fans by wearing #21.

    I love Gerald “Ice” Williams. I love Fernando Seguignol. I love Andy Stankiewicz. I love Chad Moeller. Cody Ransom’s box jumping ability makes me smile.

    Scotty Bro is my boy.

  5. Dick Whitman says:

    Boone Logan.

  6. Jose the Satirist says:

    “he’s hands down the greatest player I’ve ever seen in pinstripes, and chances are the same is true for you.”

    Tip of the hat to everyone here old enough to remember Mantle.

  7. Steve H says:

    They’ll probably respond with something creative like “for $250M they should be likable.”

    I loved the whole post, but that line was the icing on the icing, if only because it’s so damn true.

  8. Mike HC says:

    Loved the article. Well timed as well.

    I think it was a concerted effort. I remember Cashman stressing to the free agents (and swisher) to just be themselves. Don’t try to fit into the “Yankee way,” but just have fun out there.

    I think promoting Cano and Melky to the team was the first step, then adding Swish, AJ and CC was the final step. Cervelli and Granderson this year is just the icing on the cake.

  9. AndrewYF says:

    A more exciting player to watch than Gardner? Easy. Cano in 2006.

  10. lardin says:

    I would like to add to Arod’s qualities. For the all the garbage the guy gets about being selfish and egocentric and a cheater, from what I see and hear he is a very good teammate. When a young player gets his first MLB hit, Its Arod standing on the top step of the dugout calling for the ball. When a young player cant afford a suit to travel with, There’s Arod footing the bill. When Robbie Cano has a problem with his swing it’s Arod he turns to. When Someone hits a walk off, there is Arod at home plate looking like a little kid cheering for his teammates.

    Arod does deserve a lot of the crap he gets, but can we try to accentuate the positive when it comes to Arod, he just might not be the jacka$$ we all think he is….

  11. Jamal G. says:

    The Yankees traded for my all-time favorite pitcher (Vazquez) and have my all-time favorite Yankee (Cano) currently playing in his prime. Also, Alex Rodriguez ranks right below Hanley Ramirez and Cano on the list of my all-time favorite players. I’m not one to ever boo or dislike players not named Cody Ransom or Ron Dayne (“Thunder & Lighting,” my ass, you fat POS), but this team has three players that I absolutely adore.

    I know plenty of rational and intelligent Yankees fans that don’t like A-Rod all that much, but I feel completely different – I absolutely love that guy. I’ve always imagined that every time a player or agenda-driven journalist grinds their ax in public, A-Rod just thinks to himself, “Yeah, OK, but I have more money than you, I am more successful than you, and your wife has probably fantasized about banging me. I win.”

    • bexarama says:

      I’ve always imagined that every time a player or agenda-driven journalist grinds their ax in public, A-Rod just thinks to himself, “Yeah, OK, but I have more money than you, I am more successful than you, and your wife has probably fantasized about banging me. I win.”

      I would be disappointed in him if he *does not* think that.

    • I’ve always imagined that every time a player or agenda-driven journalist grinds their ax in public, A-Rod just thinks to himself, “Yeah, OK, but I have more money than you, I am more successful than you, and your wife has probably fantasized about banging me. I win.”

      More Money = Better Than

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aF8wLg5Asgo (safe)

    • Salty Buggah says:

      Same with me. This probably seems odd but A-Rod is actually my favorite all-time player. When he signed the contract, I was ecstatic because it meant 10 years of him. Although the Yanks might have overpaid, I was just happy Alex was staying a Yankee. I hope he can stay (get?) healthy and produce at elite levels for a while because I really enjoy those gaudy stats and Long HRs. PEDa and haters be damned, I’ll enjoy the day the HR record is held by a Yankee.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      Actual A-Rod quote: “When people write (bad things) about me, I don’t know if it’s (because) I’m good-looking, I’m biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team…”

      Pretty much what you said.

      • Yankeefan says:

        Salty, you don’t have to apologize or feel wierd about liking A-Rod. A lot of people like him. It is just that the media loves to talk about how many folks don’t. And if you are ever at the stadium when he hits one of those amazing grand-slams or hits in a great clutch situation, you will see just how many people like him! We like winners in NY, and he is has been a winner.

        • Brooklyn Yank says:

          well since everyone is being honest, Im a Yankee fan and I don’t “like” A-rod. Even when I try really, really hard ambivalence is the closest I get. Calling that press conference in spring training to inform media he and Jeter aren’t friends? Does he not know that as a Yankee, you will never need MORE press? There’s always just that ‘thing’ about him that rubs me the wrong way. i.e. when the doofus pitcher overreacted, instead of blowing him off or rigthfully calling him out for the overreaction, he had to go one step further and say Braden was a nobody, therefore unqualified to criticize the might a-rod? please.

          That’s really just the tip of the iceberg, but I find Teix way more likable than A-rod. He’s businesslike, but he seems authentic and yeah, I just love watching him out there at 1st snag liners. Obviously he can’t hit the broad side of a barn right now, but hey…he’s likable. lol

          Loved his reaction to John Henry’s tweets too.

  12. Salty Buggah says:

    Tex sheds a single tear for not being mentioned anywhere in this thread.

    I don’t think I’ve ever hated a Yankee but I agree that every single player is likeable. The bench players, despite having some major flaws, are even loved by fans that hate everyone for sucking even a bit.

    • Frigidevil says:

      Don’t be silly Salty, robots can’t cry.

    • Steve H says:

      It’s the slump. And while I don’t see Tex as unlikeable, he is so business like he doesn’t jump out at you like some of the others.

      Maybe he should work on a fist pump?

      • Salty Buggah says:

        True. The slump hurts and he is like Jeter in going about his business quietly. However, I always see that Tex is one of the happiest people everytime a teammate does something good. He’s always the one of the first people to praise and celebrate others’ success. Maybe it’s me but I really enjoy that about him.

        • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

          yeah when someone is all like, so youre slumping pretty bad hes like, yeah did you see that game hughes pitched tonight? one hell of a job etc

    • bexarama says:

      You summoned Mr. Jones. :(

      Nah, I love Tex.

  13. Frigidevil says:

    This made me smile. I know I became too used to winning in the early 2000′s, it was like a necessity. In hindsight, I didn’t care about the team, so much as I cared about being the best. A new batch of homegrown talent and genuinely good guys has me actually loving this team again.

  14. Mr. Jones says:

    Mark Teixiara is so average. He has about 2 clutch hits this year. He can play 1st base….THATS IT!! He’s got a miserable attitude and for some reason thinks he had a great may when he batted .280. If there is one Yankee I hate it is that horse faced jackass Tex.

  15. STEVIS says:

    The Greatest Yankee I have seen is the one and only MICK!
    A-Rod certainly is great, but if Mickey was healthy there would be NO debate!!!

  16. Dela G says:

    i think grit gutner is my favorite yankee to watch, and a-rod is a close second. they guy always seems to be having fun

  17. Mister Delaware says:

    I hated Randy Johnson. Watching someone miserable play well is better than watching someone jovially suck, but I’ll take 25 Swishers, thank you.

  18. Jamal G. says:

    Oh, and even though he’s no longer wearing the interlocking “NY,” let’s all pour one for the dirtiest member of the You Ain’t Never Too Old To Be Dirty Crew, Jason “the Giambino” Giambi.

  19. Dela G says:

    Sure, Burnett stunk and the Yanks lost last night, but in the end who cares. In a week it’ll nothing but a distant memory and in the month it’ll be completely forgotten about.

    trust me, dante won’t forget this outing and will find a way to come back to talk about it in august

  20. Wow…bit sentimental are we?

    I’ll admitt that the players this year seem to be a pretty easy going group. I don’t know if it’s me being weird though, but I don’t really have a whole lot of attachment to any of the players. I have never “loved” or “adored” any Yankee. I am dedicated to the team and I love watching the whole group play, but I never get emotionally attached to the individual pieces. It just seems kind of arbitrary to me.

  21. Ivan says:

    I pretty much enjoy all the yankee players…

    CC is like my third fav pitcher (behind Mo and Hughes)

    Mainly because, the guy is like the coolest mothafucker rite now to grace a mound. He looks like he might smack the shit out ya if ya act up…Gangsta lol….

  22. I’m just glad that Bernie Williams isn’t on the team any more. Such an asshole.

  23. And of course, there’s the old timers. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada are beloved for being far more than great players. They’re beloved because they are all great people with no egos.

    I enjoyed the vast majority of the post here, but c’mon, really? No egos?

    I’m not saying they’re all egotistical figures clamoring for fame and virgins feeding them grapes, but that’s too weighty a statement.

    All are known for charity work, but one is known for being headstrong/pee-handed with tremendous pride (which can be considered ego to some), another for being (at least formerly to a great extent) a playboy with endorsement deals up the hoo-ha, a Jesus-freak former steroid user (which suggests a strong possibility of ego) and another being God himself.

    I’d agree they’re likable and great players (though I don’t personally like Posada), but they very likely have egos.

  24. Kiersten says:

    I agree completely. Obviously I’m extremely biased in thinking this, but I’ve thought about the Red Sox and how their players are just so unlikeable. Pedroia, for instance. Obviously he’s a good player and fans are going to like him for that, but when he blamed the grounds crew for his botched ball in the ALDS last year, how are you, as a fan, okay with that? If any of our infielders made a comment like that, I’d be pissed, and I’d lose some respect for them. Youkilis charging the mound, how Ortiz handled the PED situation last year, Varitek punching A-Rod (with his mask on). Maybe it’s just cause I’m biased and maybe it’s just the baseball “culture” that they’re used to as opposed to what we’re used to, but I’d have a hard time liking players after things like that.

    One of the things I love most about the Yankees is the professionalism. You really never hear a Yankee say negative things about another person/player/manager/etc, I can’t remember ever seeing a Yankee charging the mound. This is something that also makes the Yankees very likable in my opinion.

  25. Dirty Pena says:

    Derek Jeter debuted on my 9th birthday. I like that. And where’s the love for Marcus Thames?

  26. Pete says:

    Steve Lombardi’s head would explode if he read this.

  27. The Fustration of Leiter says:

    “Robbie Cano’s smile was MVP caliber long before his game was.”

    Maybe the lamest line I’ve ever read.

  28. larryf says:

    How about Girardi getting all teary-eyed when Farnsworth left? So likeable…

  29. nsalem says:

    The Fustration is Luis Sojo and 16 bounces

  30. Kiko Jones says:

    The 2009 Yankees are my all-time favorites behind the 1977-1978 clubs, and the addition of guys who wanted to be Yankees–along w/the new homegrown crop—are a big reason why. (Is anyone happier to be a Yankee than Nick Swisher?)

    Of course I rooted for the championship teams of the ’90s—much props for what they accomplished—but they always seemed too stuffy for my taste. I recall David Cone saying that he and Paul O’Neill were not thrilled by AJ’s pies at first, but Coney eventually got it, much to his credit. To see Melky, Canó and Swisher dance in the dugout after the Johnny Damon-Mark Texeira one-two HR punch during the 2009 Boston Massacre was a pure delight and one of my fave moments from last season. (Doubtful that sorta thing would’ve have gone down in ’98.) And #42 deserves a lot of credit for his hand in making the new guys feel at home: it was Mo, after all, who gave a reticent Burnett the green light to pie Jorge Posada last season. A small gesture but one that speaks volumes of The Great One’s leadership.

    As for this year’s bunch, Granderson has fit in here so seamlessly…and Cervelli? Who can’t help but love that kid? Even cranky-ass Posada—who I’ve come to respect more and more as he gets older—has showered him w/praise. Yeah…

  31. Cam says:

    I’ve often said since last season that ’09 has gone down as my favorite Yankee team I can remember watching, other than the ’98 Yanks. I just could not wait for baseball to come on TV last season, and was so pumped when this season started. I love that you wrote this post because it’s exactly how I feel about the team prior to last season. Sure, they were winning, but even guys like Bobby Abreu made it tough to like them. Even A.J., beyond the pies, is very likeable to me. He doesn’t make excuses when he stinks, he’s always in the dugout watching the games, and he hasn’t caused a single fuss since signing. I can not pin point a single guy on the roster I don’t like where there used to be 2 or 3 at least. Definitely a great group.

  32. sangreal says:

    Pretty funny how one of the reasons the White Sox wanted to get rid of Swisher is they hated his clubhouse presence.

  33. Riddering says:

    TPWA.

    The 2009-present Yankees behave in such a way that I look forward to following headlines and beat writers to see what they’re up to rather than dread it. Even the trashier stuff makes my heart soar (like a Marlin!), such as the Centaur and magic vaginas.

  34. Chris0313 says:

    I hate Cervelli. Not hate him as a person, hate him as a player. He is playing way over his head and the Yankees should consider trading him when Posada is healthy, and going with Posada, Moehller.

  35. The209 says:

    Totally agree. They have to trade Cervelli – plus Gardner, Hughes and all other young/homegrown/better-than-expected players ASAP.

  36. Adam says:

    I just have to say this…

    Dan Pasqua.

  37. forensicnucchem says:

    I completely agree with this whole post, except one thing. Melky always bugged me much more than made me like him. Maybe it was the absurd support of his abilities or the fake throws he would make toward the stands, but I could never like him.

  38. What’s the story with Dave Eiland? Thanks

  39. Gwen says:

    I love this post. I think it describes the excitement of watching the Yanks play, even when they lose, just perfectly. Though I do miss being amused by Paul O’Neill’s temper tantrums and Scott Proctor’s…drunkenness(?)/anger…I can’t remember having this much fun watching a Yankees game even when they lose. The players still have the same passion for the game, but now it’s coupled with the ability to let things go, to take things in stride and to look at the bigger picture, which I appreciate. My mood is always screwed up when they lose, but watching them still smile and still have fun even when they’re down makes it a little easier to handle.

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