Friday, December 23, 2016

Airing of Yankee Grievances

On this December 23, a.k.a. Festivus, I saw a Twitter hashtag, #MetsGrievances. Fitting, since Jerry Seinfeld, whose show introduced the faux holiday, is a Met fan. Some of the #MetsGrievances were very funny. I even saw a mention of Mel Rojas.

Rather than piss everybody off by rattling off tweet after tweet, I have one post of #YankeesGrievances. These are in chronological order, and include only those I was old enough to see.

* 1979. Yankee management knew Thurman Munson was hurting. But when he died, there was only one catcher on the big-league roster. Jerry Narron. If, in 2016, you're asking, "Who's Jerry Narron?" well, my point exactly.

* 1980. I suppose the Kansas City Royals had to win the American League Pennant someday, and that they would probably have to beat the Yankees in the AL Championship Series to do it. But getting swept?

* 1981. Trading Willie McGee for Bob Sykes. Trading Fred McGriff for Dale Murray doesn't bother me much, because McGriff was still years away from contributing, and could only play one position, Mattingly's. But the Yankees sure could've used a good-hitting, good-running, good-fielding center fielder for the next 16 years, or at least for the next 13, until Bernie Williams was ready.

* 1981. George Steinbrenner and Bob Lemon, do the words "Mr. October" mean anything to you? I don't care if he's batting .135 -- and he was batting .333 in that Series, though he had been hurt -- you do not keep Reggie Jackson on the bench in the World Series!

* 1982 to 1995. The entire career of Don Mattingly, baseball's ultimate jinx -- and the people who still call him a "Yankee Legend." With a slight allowance made for Mel Stottlemyre, Bobby Murcer and Dave Winfield, you at least have to have won a Pennant to be a Yankee Legend.

* 1984. Trading Shane Rawley for Marty Bystrom. It cost the Yankees anywhere from 1 to 4 AL Eastern Division titles, and possibly even greater achievements.

* 1985. Billy Martin picking a fight with his pitcher Ed Whitson, when having Whitson available might have made a huge difference. He missed 2 starts, 1 the Yankees won anyway, 1 they didn't. It ruined might have been Billy's best managing job: Managing that Yankee team to 97 wins, but no Wild Card in those days, so no Playoffs.

* 1986. Just having one more good starting pitcher would have prevented Yankeegeddon: A Red Sox vs. Mets World Series.

* 1990. Not counting Andy Hawkins' no-hitter as such. True, he pitched 8 innings instead of 9. But he did pitch a complete game without allowing a hit. It's not like it was a rain-shortened game.

* 1990. The way George Steinbrenner chased Dave Winfield out of town. Then again, if that's what stopped George, and forced him to turn the running of the team over to Gene Michael, and build the 1996-2003 Dynasty, so be it.

* 1993. Being tied for 1st on September 5, and finishing 7 games out. A 4-game losing streak from September 6 to 10, and a 5-game losing streak from September 19 to 25 did us in. From September 6 to the end of the season on October 3, the Yankees went 10-14, with 5 of the 14 losses being by 1 or 2 runs. I know, I know: You have to learn how to lose before you can learn how to win. Still, I really wanted that one.

* 1994. The cancellation of the postseason by Commissioner Bud Selig. Which prevented Mattingly from becoming a true Yankee Legend.

* 2001. Joe Torre's hunches stopped working 2 innings too soon. All those 2-inning saves he assigned to Mariano Rivera. Luis Arroyo could do it. So could Sparky Lyle. So could Goose Gossage. Mariano could do it, until Game 7 of the World Series in Arizona. Joe blew that one.

* 2002. Not hitting in the postseason. It's supposed to be implied by the term "Bronx Bombers."

* 2003. Jeff Fucking Weaver. Joe, you had other options. Also, the Yankees just didn't hit in Games 4, 5 and 6 of that World Series.

* 2004. Not hitting in Games 4, 5 and 6 of the ALCS. Not bunting on Curt Schilling and his Frankenstein-monster ankle. Alex Rodriguez's stupid slap play. The umpires sending Derek Jeter back to 1st base, when he would rightfully have had 2nd even if there had been no interference, thus killing the rally. And Torre never once ordering that David Ortiz be brushed back, let alone hit.

* 2005. Not hitting in the postseason.

* 2006. Not hitting in the postseason. It's not that Torre batted A-Rod 8th. It's that A-Rod earned the demotion.

* 2007. Not hitting in the postseason. And Torre should have told the umpires to stop the game until the bugs were gone. Billy would have. So would Casey Stengel.

* 2010. Tearing the old Yankee Stadium down. It could have been kept up as a historic site.

* 2010. Joe Girardi using Boone Logan enough to blow first the AL East, then the ALCS.

* 2011. Not hitting in the postseason.

* 2012. Not hitting in the postseason -- even if the AL Division Series win over the Baltimore Orioles remains our only postseason series win since the 2009 World Series.

* 2015. Not hitting in the AL Wild Card game.

* 2016. Brian Cashman trading away Aroldis Chapman (who reached the World Series with the Chicago Cubs, and won it), Andrew Miller (who reached the World Series with the Cleveland Indians, and nearly won it), Carlos Beltran (who reached the Playoffs with the Texas Rangers) and Ivan Nova, and getting nothing in return. Don't tell me about "prospects." Brien Taylor was a prospect. So was Hensley "Bam-Bam" Meulens. So was Steve Balboni.

* And, of course, despite all the accusations against them, there is no team that has been more hurt by cheating by steroids than the Yankees. Sometimes, it didn't work: The 1996, '98 and '99 Texas Rangers; the 1996 Baltimore Orioles; the 2000 and '01 Oakland Athletics; the 2000 Mets (Mike Piazza); and the 2003 Boston Red Sox. Sometimes, it did work: The 1997 Orioles; the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks; the 2003 Florida Marlins and 2006 Detroit Tigers of Ivan Rodriguez; and, of course, the 2004, '07 and '13 Red Sox. (As far as I know, the 1997 and 2007 Cleveland Indians, the 2002 and 2005 Los Angeles Angels, the 2010 Rangers, the 2011 and '12 Tigers and the 2015 Houston Astros were clean.)

I hope 2017 will present me, and all Yankee Fans, with fewer Grievances, and more Feats of Strength.

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