Being a Stranger to the Game I Love (Side A)
Hi everybody! It's been a minute since I've popped my head in here. Is everything going okay?
"Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"
I promise it won't be much longer, but I've needed a break from the New York Yankees. I've needed a break from putting my efforts towards tracking player oddities, and injuries, and coming up with frivolities about the game of baseball. I've still be engaged with the sport and with the team, but they've taken a backseat to the more important things going on right now. But, I promise I'll be moving back in soon!
So, why have I been away? Why am I "The Stranger" to the Yankees and baseball right now?
If you may, I'd like to share a little about myself personally. (And, if you mind, you are free to skip the next two paragraphs. I don't mind.) So, I've finally found my way on a career path and I am focused on what's out there for me in the world of education. I began working as a substitute teacher right before the season began, have found my way into a full-time leave replacement position, and just recently passed my PRAXIS exam to obtain an entry-level teachers license for teaching Middle School Science! I am also incredibly excited to start interviewing for positions for next year soon.
I've also recently got involved with watching hockey. As some of you may remember, I wrote about my fascination with other sports in late-January (and, here is the article on hockey/the NHL). I needed something to pass the time in the offseason, and through my oldest brother, close friends, and wanting to do something fun with my girlfriend in the winter, I went to the Prudential Center and caught a New Jersey Devils game with her. (It helps that my girlfriends family are Devils fans.) They won that game in overtime and I was immediately hooked. And, they've been having a great run in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And, for me, that means lots of watching hockey and getting to share it with my family, my friends, and my girlfriend.
Now, sometimes, the most important thing is space to realize what you're missing most. (Or, at least that's what I've heard and understand a lot about relationships over the years.) I do miss baseball. I often miss the things I am away from. But, I know that once I have the time, I'll be back to it again. Back on the road heading to games. As you're reading this article (if you got to it early) I'm going to be on the ball-field myself playing. I love the sport. But, I hope that explains why I've been purposefully away. And, why I'm looking forward to coming back.
"Just the Way You Are"
Now, while I've been away that doesn't mean I've entered into my own version of Aaron Rodgers' "darkness retreat". (Yes, I have been following sports. I have a 30-40 minute commute every morning and afternoon. I get to hear a lot about sports on WFAN.) I'm still aware of what's going on- generally speaking- with the New York Yankees.
And, they are stuck in the same old song and dance (wait, that's Aerosmith) with team construction yet again. Injuries are a constant talking point as the team is missing tons of pieces in the line-up (Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson), the starting rotation (Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino, Frankie Montas), and the bullpen (Lou Trivino, Scott Effross, Jonathan Loaisiga, Tommy Kahnle). How many times have we played this game in the past decade? This is an every year problem.
The Yankees are nearing a point in time when they'll need to seriously consider blowing it up. But, they won't be able to. They have far too much money being focused, long-term, on a short list of players (see: Judge, Rodon, Gerrit Cole) and have focused, short-term, the next 3+ years on contracts with Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman. The time to have thrown all the money at the wall and trade prospects and go-for-it is right now. Do it before it's too late and Judge and Rodon and Cole are too old to produce like superstars anymore.
And, it wouldn't be the same Yankees if they decided to not see it through with a contract they've given out. Aaron Boone may become a scapegoat if this season goes horribly. But, I'd bet against it. Especially with Brian Cashman behind the decision making. He has the best job security in the country. Arguably better than some CEO's of their own companies! He'll never be tossed to the wolves.
Oh, Yankees. They never change.
"Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"
Do you want to know something funny? On the back of the album for "The Stranger", it features Billy Joel and his band all sitting down at a restaurant. Specially, Guido's Restaurant, which used to be in Manhattan. Phil Ramone (Billy Joel's audio engineer) is seen standing wearing a New York Yankees uniform for the back cover album artwork. Apparently, the photo they used for the back cover was impromptu and the band was just wearing the same clothes that they had on at the studio session that day.
It's no longer there, but there is a new Italian restaurant in it's place at 511 9th Avenue in Manhattan, right between West 38th and West 39th street. It's called "IL Punto" or, "The Spot".
Are the Yankees the spot to be right now? I don't think so.
They have issues stemming from the top of their organization in the front office. People around baseball are watching Brian Cashman give his rehearsed blurbs to the media about how the team is "still competitive" and how he is "taking accountability" for the teams many issues. In those same breaths, Cashman is also throwing his team under the bus and talking about how he wished he could've traded surplus (his words, not mine) from the infield.
Yes, we were saying the same things on here. As sports-writers and fans, we can voice our opinion. But to hear it from your boss, mid-season, that he wanted to get rid of you is different. Especially when he leaves it vague. Cashman never said who of the infielders he wanted gone. He just wanted someone gone.
These are conversations that a general manager should be having at a Italian Restaurant, off the record, about his ideas for the team. Not openly in front of the media as a way to try to encourage the team. To learn someone is not wanted- even if it could be an easy guess- is not going to boost the morale of a team that's been extremely short of expectation so far.
Think about it: in 1977, going to an Italian Restaurant, named "Guido's", Phil Ramone wore a Yankees uniform. They were a team for the every man.
Now a days, that same restaurant location is home to "The Spot". It's a 4.5 star eatery where they are charging $24 for bolognese. They charge $50 per person if you miss a large group reservation. It's no longer a spot for everyone. It's a spot for only the special.
If that's not an allegory about the Yankees of old and today, then I don't know what is.