Yankees Suck postsWednesday December 07, 2016
Yankees Suck: Treating KC A's as Its 1950s Farm Club
Last week I read a not-very-good book about a very interesting baseball man, “Finley Ball: How Two Baseball Outsiders Turned the Oakland A's into a Dynasty and Changed the Game Forever,” by Nancy Finley.
Yeah, she's Charlie O's niece, and the daughter of Finley's right-hand man (the other baseball outsider of the title), and not a particularly good writer. Nor journalist. She's a “homer” in the worst sense, cleaning up after the family image. She spends way too much time, for example, tracking down dirt on poor Mike Andrews, who committed two errors in the 12th inning of Game 2 of the 1973 World Series, leading to an A's loss, and was then forced, by Finley, to sign a legal doc stating that he was injured and ineligible to play for the rest of the Series. Result: furor. A's manager Dick Williams objected, Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn objected (and reinstated Andrews) and the Oakland players particularly objected. Ms. Finley wants to show that Andrews was injured, and knew he was injured, and kept playing anyway, to the detriment of the team. That's hardly the point. An owner doesn't show up a player (nor a manager) the way Finley did. You keep it in the clubhouse. Finley lost his players not because of Andrews but because he didn't play by the unwritten rules of baseball. The team didn't like him because he wasn't a team guy.
That said, she does give us some good dirt on the ways the New York Yankees used the Kansas City Athletics as essentially a major league farm club throughout the 1950s. Most of this isn't news to me, but it's more detailed than reports I've seen in the past:
- In 1954 [Arnold Johnson] bought the Philadelphia Athletics and moved the team to Kansas City. Johnson also had financial interests in Yankee Stadium, and he seemed to pay more attention to the Yankees than to the Athletics.
- Early on, Charlie had heard rumors that Johnson had been stripping the team of its best players and trading them to the Yankees. He hadn't completely believed it, but after he acquired the team he discovered that the rumors were true and that [Kansas City Star sports columnist Ernie] Mehl was complicit. ... Charlie immediately announced that there would be no more trades to the Yankees, a decision that could only be seen as a slap at Mehl.
- The cozy relationship between the Athletics and the Yankees became embarrassingly obvious. When the Athletics acquired the young slugging prospect Roger Maris in 1957, the American League president, Will Harridge—who had supported Johnson's efforts to buy the Athletics and approved their move to Kansas City—took the unusual step of publicly warning Johnson not to trade Maris to the Yankees for at least eighteen months. Johnson complied, but barely, trading Maris to New York in December 1959. The Athletics got little in return.
- “Kansas City was not an independent major-league team at all, it was nothing more than a loosely controlled Yankee farm club,” Bill Veeck wrote later. He said that he heard the Athletics general manager, Parke Carroll—a former K. C. sports writer—boast openly in baseball meetings that he had nothing to worry about by trading away so many great players because the Yankees' owner, George Weiss, had “promised to take care of” Carroll in return for his help in making those lopsided trades.
In one game in the early 1960s, Finley, a true showman, actually organized a bizarre pre-game demonstration of how the days of shuttling talent to New York were over:
The fans were chatting, sipping beer, and waiting for the game to start. Suddenly, they grew quiet. They watched as a beat-up old shuttle bus lumbered onto left field. Exchanging perplexed glances, they wondered what was going on. Then Frank Lane walked out to the bus and splashed it with gasoline. An instant later it was engulfed in black and orange flames. Then an unfamiliar voice came over the loudspeaker. It was the team's new owner. Charlie introduced himself and explained that the burning of the bus was his way of announcing that the days of shuttling Kansas City's best talent to the Bronx were over. The Athletics would no longer be the Yankees' farm team. After a pause, a few fans started clapping, and soon the stadium was filled with applause and shouts of approval.
That said, a book like this needs to embrace the beautiful outsized idiocy of Charlie O, and it doesn't quite. I like the below, for example, except she doesn't need to constantly disparage the Other in order to enshrine her uncle. It puts a slight damper on an otherwise amusing anecdote:
By the late 1950s, baseball owners formed an exclusive club of old-money boys and nouveau riche businessmen, and they looked out for each other. Charlie was a self-made millionaire, but he was just an insurance salesman—not part of the club. When it became clear that Charlie might actually acquire the Athletics in 1960, the other owners assigned the Baltimore Orioles' chairman, Joe Iglehart, to investigate him. Iglehart reported back to the owners: “Under no conditions should this person be allowed into our league.”
So anyone know of a better book on Charlie O?
A Belated 'See Ya' to the Benighted 2016 NY Yankees
I'm not exactly spreading the news here—the Yankees finally bought it for the 2016 season more than a week ago. Still, good to kick them to the curb. A shame they didn't have a losing record (they wound up 84-78) but as the man said: There's always next year.
Take 'em home, Carey:
Wait Till This Year, Yankee Haters
Still waiting on a losing Yankees season. Maybe this is the year?
From Hardball Times' article, “Damning the Yankees”:
The Yankees are boring, old and slow, and their only exciting pitchers are in the bullpen, waiting for a late-inning lead that seldom comes. They began the season 9-17, and since they won to improve to 4-4 on April 14, the Yanks have spent just one day with a .500 record — May 24, when they won to put their record at 22-22. The Bombers quickly dipped back below .500 and now stand at 27-30. ...
Saddled with oft-injured, over-the-hill former All-Stars on the tail ends of suspect-at-best contracts – Alex Rodriguez ($40 million through 2017), Jacoby Ellsbury ($111 million through 2021), Mark Teixeira ($22.5 million, final year), Carlos Beltran ($15 million, final year) – the Yankees are likely to end this season with the ignominious distinction of the worst win-to-payroll ratio in baseball history.
I also like this dig at New Yankee Stadium, which saw a championship its first year in 2009 (just like old Yankee Stadium in 1923), but not much since (unlike old Yankee Stadium):
Their ballpark is as unappealing as their play. The New Yankee Stadium is a corporatist knock-off of the House That Ruth Built – a sterile, supremely overpriced bandbox where stiffs in suits eat sushi in $1,200 seats. The home field of the most famous team in sports history has gone from hallowed ground to variety show laughingstock.
The House that Ruthlessness Built?
That said, since the article came out, the Yanks have swept the Angels and are now back at .500. It's an old team but it ain't over 'til the pretty lady sings.
Yankees Suck, Reason #83
On July 27 Arthur “Red” Patterson, the popular Yankees public relations director who the year before had gained nationwide fame by taking a tape measure to determine the distance of Mickey Mantle's tremendous home run hit out of Griffith Stadium in Washington, announced his resignation from the team, citing a clash of personalities with the Yankees general manager [George Weiss]. Patterson had become disgruntled when Weiss passed him over for the assistant general manager's job in April, and the final straw for him was when Weiss castigated him for giving a couple of free passes to a game to the elevator operator at the Yankees' Fifth Avenue offices.
John Oliver Tears the Yankees a New One
On his “Last Week Tonight” show last night, John Oliver had a bit about the opening of the Major League Baseball season and the wonders that await us. A Cubs championship? Ichiro's 3,000th hit? A not-great Phillies Phanatic joke?
Then it got good:
There is only one thing, however, that we can all be absolutely sure of this season, and that is that the New York Yankees will continue finding ways to look like the biggest elitist assholes in all of sports.
What's fascinating is that it's not the usual elitist assholish behavior from the Yanks. It's not:
- spending more money than any other team by far (they're No. 2 to the Dodgers)
- assuming the best young players on marginal teams will be theirs (although Yank fans already assume Bryce Harper will wind up in pinstripes)
- winning championships (they're in a dry spell for them: one title in 15 years)
It's none of that. This elitist assholish behavior from the Yanks involves dissing their own fans.
They have a new policy that prevents fans from printing tickets at home. When fans complained that it would be harder to resell tickets online, Lonn Trost, the Yankees COO, whom I've actually spoken with (see: this article from 10 years ago), suggested this wasn't a bad thing, since the rich premium customers wouldn't necessarily want to sit next to, you know, the rabble. He said the following:
He might not know how to act, Trost intimated. He might not know the proper way to dress. He might disturb the Yanks traditional premium club clientele.
The true beauty is what Oliver's show decided to do about it: They bought two premium tix for the first three Yankees games, and are selling them for 25 cents apiece to the person who looks least like they've sat in a premium seat before. Brilliant.
You can see the whole thing here.