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Perspectives: Wow. They Heard Me. Now, Will They Win?

by Paul Semendinger

July 30, 2021

***

Let me begin with some positives.

I love that the Yankees are making deals. LOVE IT.

I think the Yankees are better today than they were 48 hours ago.

I think Brian Cashman has done a spectacular job in acquiring Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo.

I hope the Yankees are not done.

I love when the Yankees go out and get the players. LOVE IT!

These moves might even make the Yankees a contender!!!

***

There is a scene early in the very first Harry Potter book… It is Dudley’s birthday and he starts counting how many presents he has received. The number climbs over 20, and (as I recall) and almost touches thirty. The young lad, just five or six years old, just wants more and more.

I think a lot of us are like that as Yankees fans.

We want the best players.

And we want World Series Championships.

***

In many ways, it’s been a frustrating period to be a Yankees fan. I have documented that this 20-year period, form 2001 to today has been one of the least successful in the entire history of the Yankees, since their birth in 1903. Since 2001, the Yankees have won only one World Series.

The Yankees haven’t even been in a World Series since 2009.

Year after year we see the Yankees valued at more and more money. The team is a money-making machine. The Yankees have billions of dollars in net worth above any other baseball franchise. Yet the fans constantly hear about the costs of players and the luxury tax. The luxury tax cap has been used as a reason (or excuse) for the Yankees passing on generational talent (time and again) and for putting a less-than-successful product on the field – a product that does not win championships.

Let’s remember a simple fact, the only time the Yankees have won a World Series this century was when they threw caution to the wind and spent ferociously to bring a winner to the Bronx. That’s the strategy that works, and, primarily, it’s been the business model that has only worked for the Yankees since they brought in Babe Ruth (and so many other pieces). Even Joe DiMaggio was a big purchase.

The approach of trying to build a winner without spending big, across the roster, has not worked.

The proof is the lack of flags.

Should the Yankees be judged by their championships?

Should the Yankees be judged by the number of times they appear in the World Series?

Is that fair?

Yes, yes, and yes.

The Yankees market their franchise as baseball’s best. The Yankees earn a ton of money projecting themselves as baseball’s premier franchise. The Yankees love to tout and market their many championships. “We’re the Yankees!”

Because of their success (past success), the Yankees also charge their fans some of the highest prices, for everything, in the game. Here’s an example:

Many fans love getting the team’s yearbook. If you’d like the World Champion Dodgers Yearbook, it will cost $15.00. For the same price, you can also get a Mets Yearbook. The Red Sox Yearbook can be had for $12.00. Better yet, the Red Sox offer a digital copy of their yearbook for FREE.

If you’re a Yankees fan and you want a yearbook, it will cost you $20.00.

I can give a million examples like this. We all know that’s true.

Yeah, it costs more to be a Yankees fan.

Because of that, it is frustrating watching the team cut corners and use, as their main order of business, this notion that they need to watch their costs. Baloney. The Yankees could afford to put all-stars at every position. They just choose not to. As a result, the product they deliver to the fans is not the quality it could, or should, be.

I am a Yankees fan. I am charged a lot for that “privilege.” I don’t want to hear about a luxury tax. I want to see my team win.

***

I am very glad to see that the Yankees are making the necessary moves to hopefully contend this year.

It’s nice to see them in it – and in it BIG!

***

The Yankees built a team these last few years with this philosophy that it doesn’t matter which side of the plate a batter bats from – that a team can be built by throwing out a lineup of players that all bat right-handed, all swing big, and who all try to hit long balls. The Yankees told us that lineup balance doesn’t matter, that we shouldn’t worry about the fact that so many hitters have the same approach and that they’re all right-handed.

And we watched, for years now, the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, and Gleyber Torres all fail to deliver on the promise of reaching a World Series. We watched them swing big. We heard all about launch angles and high exit velocity. We were supposed to be impressed.

What we didn’t see were wins, or at least enough of them.

What we haven’t seen are championship flags and World Series bunting.

I’m not impressed with launch angles and exit velocity – unless it translates in the box score.

Even though they knew we knew better, and even though they themselves knew better, the Yankees told us that having a lineup of lumbering right handed sluggers, one after the next, will work. “Trust us. We know more than you,” they said.

They didn’t.

And they don’t.

The Yankees were trying to sell their fans a work of fiction.

How do we know?

From the start of the season, the lineup featured players, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, and Rougned Odor, batting in the most important parts in the lineup. They batted there, often third or fourth, not because they earned it. They didn’t bat there because they were producing. They didn’t bat there because they deserved it. No, they batted there because of one thing – they could hit left-handed.

We were told the Yankees didn’t need to get quality lefty hitters, and then we saw that they put inferior left-handed hitters in the most important parts of the line-up.

Actions speak louder than words.

We also know that that approach didn’t work.

In many regards, the 2021 Yankees season has been a failure. It’s (just about) August and the Yankees are 8.5 games out of first place. They have played a terrible, boring, uninspired brand of baseball. If the season ended today, there would be no playoffs for the Yankees.

If the season ended today, the big lumbering power-hitting right-handed sluggers would all be heading home. Again.

We knew this from the start.

We have seen this play out for years and years.

The Yankees told us they knew better. They didn’t.

We knew they weren’t being honest with us.

***

I have talked with many Yankees fans who have told me that they weren’t even watching the team this year. They have all said the same things – this was a boring and not fun team.

***

But, finally, the Yankees are doing something about it.

In comes Joey Gallo. In comes Anthony Rizzo. In comes lineup balance.

These moves are welcomed. They’re great. I am thrilled.

Brian Cashman has worked some miracles because the big lefty bats are coming.

The Yankees have admitted, finally, that their model didn’t work. It was a bad model from the start. It was a horrible idea that didn’t work in theory or practice.

Finally, the left-handed bats are coming.

***

Brian Cashman worked some miracles because he also acquired Gallo and Rizzo for free.

He is getting a lot of credit for that. And he deserves that credit.

But, you know what? I don’t care that they’re free, except that I hope that means more great players are coming.

In fact, I’d be more impressed if the Yankees were paying for Gallo and Rizzo. THAT would impress me a ton. I’d be more impressed to see the organization saying, “We don’t care about the luxury tax. We just want a winner. The fans deserve a winner.”

We know Brian Cashman has been working with his hands tied.

It would be nice to see the owners untie those hands. The Yankees have the money, the question is are the willing to spend it on the team… the way the Yankees used to operate…

I do wonder, since the Yankees got these players for free, will they turn around and send something to the fans for free? You all know the answer to that.

We’re supposed to care about the Steinbrenner’s bottom line, but the Yankees don’t care, at all, about ours.

At all.

If these moves work, if the Yankees reach the post season, if they win it all, in addition to the joy we will all feel, we can also be sure of one other thing – the Yankees will raise their prices on everything once again.

***

I am THRILLED the Yankees are playing big (finally) at this trade deadline.

Having Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo should make the Yankees more balanced and more fun to watch.

But, let’s not forget that moves like these could have been made last season, or the season before, or in the winters in between.

The Yankees are making moves because they are in panic mode. Deservedly so. The plan they developed and sold the fans didn’t work.

They knew it. And we knew it.

I hope these moves get the Yankees over the top. I also hope there’s another move or two coming.

I am also not convinced that Aaron Boone is the manager who can spark this team and lead them through what will be a very difficult pennant race. And if they survive, if Boone is a good enough manager to win throughout the playoffs. Has he learned from the past or will he make the same mistakes in the post season again?

We will soon find out.

***

I love the big moves.

I love when the Yankees are all-in.

I am happy that the Yankees understood that the window had closed on the team they were trotting out there. I’m glad they reinforced the squad. I’m glad they finally have some quality left-handed bats.

I wish they had done this months ago, if not years…

I hope it’s not too little, too late.

***

Let’s Go Yankees!

#AnthonyRizzo #BrianCashman #JoeyGallo

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