Yankees Suck posts
Sunday September 12, 2021
Celebrating a Big Bronx Defeat
In a world of many small defeats, it's important to celebrate the big defeats of perennial winners like the New York Yankees.
The Yankees have been a hugely streaky team this year. Predicted by many (including me) to win the AL pennant for the first time since 2009, they started out poorly, revived, dithered, then put together one of the longest win steaks in team history—a lucky 13 games from August 14 to August 27. I was in New York for some of that and I could see fans growing confident again, wearing the caps and shirts again. This was the real Yankees, damnit! But all streaks must come to an end and this one did with a 3-2 loss to Oakland on August 28. “A loss is a loss,” said Aaron Judge, who hit a 2-run homer in the 9th to no avail. “It's time to start another streak, that's all.” Which they did—but not in the way he meant. They lost four in a row. Then they won two. Then they lost seven in a row. The 13-0 team had quickly become a 2-11 team.
The num-num moment of this period was a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at New Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays have some of the best young hitters in the game (Vlad Jr., Bichette Jr., Gurriel Jr.) but the team has massively underperformed this year. They've had a huge 100+ run differential but have floundered back of the wild card pack, seemingly out of it. Last Sunday, the day before Labor Day, they were 4.5 games back of the Yankees, whose run differential was less than half theirs.
But the Blue Jays won the first game in resounding fashion, 8-0. They won the second, 5-1, off Yankees ace Gerritt Cole. They won the third 6-3 and were leading the fourth 2-0 in the 6th inning when Anthony Rizzo went deep for the pinstripes to tie it up. Aw, too bad, I thought. But the Jays scored another in the 7th, another in the 8th, and two more in the 9th to win it 6-4 and sweep the Bombers in the Bronx.
That's a rarity. But that's not the big defeat I referenced. The big defeat is this: the Yankees never held the lead in any of those games.
When was the last time the Yankees lost a four-game series, anywhere, without once holding the lead? Would you believe 1924?
As a result, the AL Wild Card has gotten interesting. Friday night's games tightened things further, with the top three teams (BoSox, Yankees, Blue Jays) losing and the bottom two (A's, my own, young, unheralded, no-name Seattle Mariners) winning, so all five were within two games of each other. Last night the reverse: top three won, bottom two lost. It's going to be a bumpy ride. Three weeks left.
Wednesday February 17, 2021
That Yankees Pennant Drought
Over the years I've written a lot about the how, why and when of the New York Yankees sucking. It started with the 61* reasons in The Grand Salami in the early 2000s, and I added more as I learned more: the org's historic racism, treating the KC A's like its farm club, David Cone's faux outrage speech against the Mariners in 1998, more historic racism, Derek Jeter's parting gifts, etc. etc. It should be a book. Maybe it will be.
But it's worth reiterating the No. 1 reason why the Yankees suck: They win. They win all the fucking time. They are the sports symbol of our horribly unequal society—U.S. Steel and Amazon.com all rolled into one. Rooting for them is like rooting for white people. A Yankee pennant or championship is like a Republican tax cut: It benefits the people who need it least.
It's worth reiterating all this now because the Yankees are in the midst of one of their longest pennant droughts.
First, a little history.
The Yankees started out as a shoddy little organization called the Highlanders that didn't have its own ballpark for a few years; they had to make do with the Giants' ballpark. They were one of the last teams to win a pennant—the lucky 13th of the original 16 teams to do so. It took 18 seasons. That is still their longest pennant drought.
Then on Jan. 5, 1920 they purchased Babe Ruth for $125,000. Here are the Yankees pennantless runs since that day.
Just how dominant were the Yankees in their 1920-1964 heyday? For nearly half a century, Yankee fans never had to suffer for four staight years without a pennant. Not once. Put it this way: If, on Jan. 5, 1920, you'd told Yankee fans that for the next 45 years they could win a pennant every other year—every other year for 45 years—or they could let things play out as the fates allowed, I'm sure most would've chosen the former. And they would've shortchanged themselves. In these 45 seasons, the Yankees won 29 pennants and the rest of the AL combined won 16:
Ah, but the fun part. Some combination of new CBS ownership and longstanding racist policies led to their downfall. By 1966, the Yankees were the worst team in the AL. Good times. I like how, immediately after the Yankee Years ended, four Have-Nots stepped up to win pennants: Senators/Twins, Browns/Orioles, Red Sox and Tigers. And the first team to dominate was the team that had the least. Before 1966, the Orioles franchise had been to the World Series just once and lost. That was it. Then, in the next six years, they won four pennants and two titles. Then it was on to another Have-Not, the Oakland A's, which won three pennants and three championships in three years. No team besides the Yankees has ever done that. Then the Sox and their memorable '75 Series. And then, crap, back to the Yankees. Oh well. Fun while it lasted.
Indeed, even after the Yankee Years ended, who has been the most dominant team in baseball? Sadly:
Which is why we need to enjoy the Yankees' current pennant drought. Sure, it doesn't hold a candle to the Mariners' current drought (44 seasons and counting), or the Pirates (41 seasons), Brewers (38), Orioles (37), A's and Reds (30). Hell, almost half the Majors have longer current pennant droughts than the Yankees. But for the Yankees, this is still historically bad territory—their second worst drought since the day they bought Babe Ruth. Enjoy.
Sunday October 11, 2020
No-Name Rays Topple Big-Name Yanks
Read the body language: Chapman: Uh oh; Brosseau: Oh, yeah.
And here endeth the lesson. And the Yankees' season.
And the Tampa Bay Rays have joined the pantheon!
I don't have cable, because Comcast, and I don't subscribe to MLB TV because it's not user-friendly and doesn't allow you to watch your home team. So in normal years I usually go to my local bar, Quarter Lounge, and watch postseason games there. It's a fun crowd. Well, this isn't a normal year, and if Covid hadn't ended the Quarter Lounge then redevelopment already would have. It was scheduled to go under the wrecking ball in August. Not sure when I was last at the QL. February? I left not knowing I would never be back.
Long way of saying I “watched” the do-or-die Game 5 of the ALDS between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees via ESPN.com's play-by-play gamecast. I expected to watch just a little of it, but I was editing copy, and it was a good background image, and oddly riveting. The Yankees' $324 million pitcher, Gerrit Cole, aquired in the off-season, started on three-days rest for the first time in his career and seemed to be flubbing it. In the first innning he scattered two walks and a HBP to load the basess but got out of the jam. Still I was looking at his pitch count—something like 26 pitches that inning—and was hoping for a quick exit. But he settled down. Bottom of the second, he struck out the side. Bottom third, 2 Ks and a popout. You went back to the first and realized nobody had hit the ball out of the infield yet. That wouldn't happen until the bottom of the fourth, which would've been another 1-2-3 inning save an E-6. So he still had the no-hitter going.
Meanwhile, in the top of the fourth, Aaron Judge sliced a leadoff homer to right. 1-0, Yanks.
The Rays answered in the bottom of the fifth: Austin Meadows hit one to right, Judge had a bead on it, leaped, and crashed his head into padding that was overhanging the wall. Home run! I'm no Yankees fan, by any means, but the overhang thing seems way stupid. Guys have been leaping and bringing back homeruns forever, and it's a great highlight, and this impedes that. It's dangerous. I hope the Judge is OK.
But that made it 1-1. Rays kept using pitchers for two, two-plus innings. Their no-name squad. Someone really needs to do a “Moneyball” on the Rays org. Year after year, with no money and barely a fan base, they compete and thrive. Would love to see how they do it. (Here's the beginning of an answer from Eno Harris at The Athletic.)
In the sixth, Yankees got two on but didn't score. In the sixth, Rays chased Cole and got two on and didn't score. Just one baserunner in the seventh (Mike Zunino, E-5) for both teams. Top of the eighth, Judge walked but didn't move. And that set up the bottom of the eighth.
With one out, while Mike Brosseau battled Aroldis Chapman, I thought, idly, hopefully, “Hey, a run here and the Yanks will be three outs from the end of their season. Wouldn't that be great?” Brosseau wasn't even a starter. He's 26, this is his second year in the Majors, and he's had fewer than 250 plate appearances career. I guess he's brought in to face lefties. He's got exactly as many plate appearances against lefties as righties (120 for each) but his OPS against lefties is higher by 200 points. He's got 11 career homers—eight against lefities.
Chapman is a lefty.
If Brosseau was known for anything it was a Chapman incident last month. The Yankees had been losing to the Rays all year, but they had a 5-3 lead with two outs in the ninth on Sept. 1 when Chapman threw a 101-mph at Brosseau's head. Yes, at his head. It was a punk move, and when Brosseau struck out to end the game, apparently the Yanks engaged in some trash talking—another punk move—and benches cleared. It wasn't the beginning of the bad blood but it was a nasty part of it.
So that was the background; that was the history. Friday, Chapman got him 0-2 quickly, then Brosseau worked it to a 3-2 count, and kept battling. Here's the full at-bat, the 10-pitch at-bat. Chapman was battling, too. Only one of the balls was obviously a ball. The others were just off the plate. A worse umpire might've called them strikes. But Brosseau worked it and worked it and worked it. And on the 10th pitch he went deep. As longtime Yankee left-fielder Brett Gardner positioned himself to grab it if it bounced off the wall, it landed and rattled around about two rows deep in the empty Covid-era seats. If I'd been at the QL, I would've been going crazy. I would've been high-fiving guys. Instead, I just walked into the living room, where Patricia was watching one of her shows, and said, with a stupid smile on my face, “The Rays are ahead.”
But still the ninth. The middle of that lineup. Giancarlo Stanton, who's had, what, six homers this postseason, led off, and reliever Diego Castillo started out 2-0. Yikes. Then three straight strikes. All looking. Shades of Carlos Beltran. Next up, Luke Voit, who led the Majors in homers this year. K inserted, as a famous, departed announcer once said. That left Yanks 3B Gio Ursella, who'd had a good season and a bad postseason. And he didn't throw away his shot. First pitch, he rifled it toward left field—but 3B Joey Wendle leaned to his right and speared it. And the celebrations began. These kids deserve more. They deserve crowds. Maybe next year.
Biut now we can add the Rays to the pantheon of teams that have knocked out the mighty New York Yankees and helped us all sleep a little better. Since 2001:
- D-Backs, Angels, Marlins, Red Sox, Angels (2)
- Tigers, Indians, n/a, 27, Rangers
- Tigers (2), Tigers (3), n/a, n/a, Astros
- n/a, Astros (2), Red Sox (2), Astros (3), Rays
Welcome to the party, pals. Carey, start spreading the news.
Sunday May 26, 2019
“By default, I was a Mets fan, because I knew being a Yankee fan was the wrong thing to do morally.” - John Oliver pic.twitter.com/nXPHFSRafa— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) May 26, 2019
Wednesday October 10, 2018
Cry Me a River, Tyler Kepner
There may be no greater sense of schadenfreude than following the social-media paroxysms of Yankee fans rending their garments and pointing their fingers after their team has been blissfully eliminated from yet another baseball season. As happened last night in the Bronx, 4-3 to the Boston Red Sox.
No one points fingers like Yankee fans. The title was meant to be theirs, and now it's not, and someone has to take the blame. The main scapegoat this year is 2003 ALCS hero and first-time manager Aaron Boone, who waited obscenely long, like until the 4th inning, to pull starting pitchers; and then, particularly in Game 3—the 16-1 debaccle—didn't go to his top-notch relievers. Also getting the brunt: first-timer Giancarlo Stanton, who hit .222 (with a .444 OPS) over the four Boston games.
But of course there are others. Here's an eloquent Yankee fan on the subject:
100 wins, third-best record in baseball, ALDS: What else could describe that but disgrace? It's shit. Fans deserve an apology.
The mainstream press in New York doesn't exactly try to tamp down these emotions, either.
Shame? Wow. I‘ll remember that in April. I’ll channel Batman ‘66: “Come back, Shame.”
Over at the Times, Tyler Kepner’s think piece seems more circumspect (“Against the Red Sox, the Yankees Simply Don't Measure Up”), but don't kid yourself. Here's the end of Tyler's second paragraph:
“That makes nine seasons in a row without a championship.”
That sentence just drips with a sense of entitlement. He's not even talking about a pennant—something two teams (Nats, M‘s) have never even seen. He’s talking championships. He's talking rings. Because to the Yankee mentality, that's all there is.
As a reminder—to me if not Tyler—here's the championship/title drought for every MLB team, and where the Yankees place on it:
* Have never won World Series championship
** Have never been to World Series
So 23 of the 30 MLB teams are in worse shape. And they don't have those oft-mentioned 27 rings and 40 pennants to keep them warm.
But that's why, of course, nine championship-less seasons seem an eternity for the Yankee fan. Indeed, since 1923, when the Yankees won their first World Series championship after buying Babe Ruth and most of the best of the Boston Red Sox, they‘ve only had two title-less stretches longer than this: 17 seasons (between 1978 and 1996) and 14 seasons (between 1962 and 1977). The fourth longest, eight seasons, also took place in this century: between 2000 and 2009. Now this one has surpassed that.
So as Yankee-hating goes, this has actually been a pretty good time. Start spreadin’ the news.
Wednesday October 10, 2018
Sad Yankees Fan of the Day
In case you‘re like some of my friends and don’t think this is of national import, the tweet below comes from the national correspondent of the Washington Post.
Happy Sad Yankee Fan Day!— Philip Bump (@pbump) October 10, 2018
Reading the schadenfreude on Twitter after the Yankees were eliminated by the Boston Red Sox last night, I have to admit: I didn't know there was so much of me in the world.
Tuesday October 09, 2018
2018 Yankees Done
Was it better or worse that the Yankees got that 9th inning? Did it make it more painful for Yankee fans (“So close!”) or less (“At least we put a scare in the bastards!”)? And what the hell is up with Craig Kimbrel? He's lights out against most everyone else but with the Yankees he's got the yips. Here's his regular season numbers against other AL East teams:
Actually that Baltimore line is even nuttier, isn't it? A lot of it to do with this Sept. 26 game. And his overall line, while good, isn't near his standard. Last year, his K-BB ratio was 126-14. This year? 96-31.
Tonight, he came in with a 4-1 lead and went: Walk, single, strikeout. Walk, HBP, sac fly (to the warning track). Now it's 4-3, 2 outs, men on 1st and 2nd, and Gleber Torres at the plate. He hits a slow nubber to third. Helluva play by both Nunez to field it and Pearce to scoop it and stay on the bag. Baseball is a game of inches. And in those inches went the Yankees' season.
Here's the legion of honor this century:
- 2000: Oakland A's, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets
- 2001: Oakland A's, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks
- 2002: Los Angeles Angels
- 2003: Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, Florida Marlins
- 2004: Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox
- 2005: Los Angeles Angels
- 2006: Detroit Tigers
- 2007: Cleveland Indians
- 2008: n/a
- 2009: Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Philadelphia Phillies
- 2010: Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers
- 2011: Detroit Tigers
- 2012: Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers
- 2013: n/a
- 2014: n/a
- 2015: Houston Astros
- 2016: n/a
- 2017: Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros
- 2018: Oakland A's, Boston Red Sox
The top postseason Yankee killers this century have been: Detroit (3-0), Astros (2-0), Angels (2-1) and Red Sox (2-1). The schleppers? Twins (0-5), A's (0-3), Mariners (0-2).
But enough. The important thing is they‘re gone. Start spreadin’ the news.
Thursday September 20, 2018
The Phrase that Unites the Country: ‘Yankees Suck’
A great moment of national unity occurred over the weekend. I‘ll let Boston Globe sportswriter Pete Abraham explain:
Our great country is divided. But the Red Sox and Mets fans at Fenway Park just joined together to chant “Yankees suck.”— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) September 15, 2018
Truly. You can see it here.
A reader recently asked me about my “team with the longest postseason drought” post from a few years back, and wondered about extra data on the subject. I sent him what I had, but it meant going through it again, and looking at all of those numbers again. It ain’t pretty:
- Of the 113 World Series in MLB history the Yankees have won 27. That's 23.9%. The second-most titles belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals, who have 11, or 9.27%. It's not even close. It's not even half.
- The Yanks average a World Series championship ever 4.19 years. They average a pennant every 2.83 years. More than one in three World Series involves the Yankees. On the bottom end of the scale, the Phillies and Indians average a World Series championship every 56.5 years.
- It used to be worse. During the Yankees heyday, from 1921 to 1964, they won 20 World Series titles and 29 pennants. That's 66% (29/44) of the AL pennants available during those years. The second-most pennants during this time? The Tigers with 4. Then it went: Athletics and Senators: 3; Indians: 2; and White Sox, Red Sox and Browns/Orioles with one each. No wonder Joe Hardy was willing to sell his soul to the devil.
- If you‘re curious who’s got the most pennants and titles since the Yankees heyday, here's your answer: the Yankees. Since 1965, they‘ve won 11 pennants and 7 titles. Second is the Cardinals with 9 and 4. Yanks aren’t dominating as much, but they still dominate.
- OK. So what about flat-out postseason appearances throughout MLB history? Who has the most there? Well, the Cards finish third with 28. Dodgers have 31. Yankees? 53.
I was in Minneapolis over the weekend visiting family, and when I landed late Thursday night and was waiting for a taxi, I noticed the administrator behind the plastic-glass was wearing an all-black Twins cap. “Why all-black?” I asked. He said the company only allowed black caps, so he got an all-black Twins one. I nodded. “Tough year this year,” I said. He nodded. Then I added, “But thanks for beating the Yankees twice this week.” He smiled a bit, shook his head, said: “I hate the Yankees, man.”
All together now...
Friday August 31, 2018
Goodrum is Redrum for Yanks
Sometimes there's justice. For a day.
At New Yankee Stadium yesterday, that $1 billion boondoggle that swept aside great baseball history, the New York Yankees took a 7-5 lead into the 9th inning against the lowly Detroit Tigers, and had their $5.1 million set-up man, Dellin Betances, on the mound, because their $15 million closer, Aroldis Chapman, was on the DL. With one out, Betances gave up a 2-run homer to Victor Martinez—a line shot that just cleared the wall in right. The next batter was shortstop Niko Goodrum, 26, and earning $500k, which is a lot for you and me, but which is only about twice the Major League minimum, and of course 1/10 what Betances is making. Is that a spur for these guys? “Hey, you‘re not 10 times better than me!” Either way, Goodrum clobbered it to right, too, a long, towering shot that snaked just inside the right-field foul pole for the 8-7 Tigers lead.
Now the Tigers turned to their closer, one-time Yankee Shane Greene, earning $1.9 million. And he set them down in order: Gardner, who’s making $11 mil, Hicks at $2.8, and then the big bat, their key off-season acquisition, Giancarlo Stanton, all $25 million of him, who flied out to center. Game, set, match. And the Yankee faithful shuffled out in defeat.
The Yankees fell to 8.5 games behind the front-running Boston Red Sox in the American League East, but that's a bit deceiving. It makes it look like they‘re having a so-so year. They actually have the second-best record in the AL. Wait, scratch that. They have the second-best record in the Majors. That’s right. Despite all the injuries they‘ve had, despite the sense of gloom in the Bronx, they’re basically the second-best team in baseball. And then they picked up former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen. And October's around the corner, where anything can happen.
But we'll always have yesterday.
Thursday August 16, 2018
In the Trump era, you grab joy where you can, and this isn't a bad one for me today. It wasn't just that the Yankees lost, 3-1, it‘s how they lost:
That’s a thing of beauty. Yanks down by 2, get the bases loaded with nobody out ... and then can't get the ball in play: foul out, strike out, strike out. Better, the pitcher who did this to them is Adam Kolarek, who's 29, in only his second MLB season, came in with a 6.00 ERA, and somehow managed to nab the save. His first. In his career. Helluva way to start out, kid.
The win also gave the Rays their first series victory at Yankee Stadium since 2014, and, at 8-7, they‘re now one of two AL teams that have a winning record against the Baby Bombers. BoSox are 8-5.
If it almost feels over for the Yanks, it’s not. Yes, they‘re an astonishing 10.5 games back of Boston in the AL East, but they still have the second-best record in baseball. How nuts is that? It means that unless the A’s and Mariners can both steamroll past NYY for the two wildcard spots, and they're 3 and 5.5 games back respectively, Yanks are in the postseason again, where almost anything can happen.
But in the meantime: FO, K, K. Mm-wah.
Sunday July 15, 2018
“I confess it: There is some resentment. But it never degenerates into emulousness or envy. No one elsewhere wants to root for a team like the Yankees. The notion is appalling. Could any franchise be more devoid of romance? What has it ever represented but the brute power of money? One can admire the St. Louis Cardinals' magnificent history, or cherish fond memories of the great Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds or Oakland A's teams of the past. But no morally sane soul could delight in that graceless enormity in the Bronx, or its supremacy over smaller markets. It is an intrinsically depraved pleasure, like a taste for bearbaiting. And certainly none of us wants to be anything like Yankees fans — especially after seeing them at close quarters. ...
”Not that the horror is easy to recall clearly. The trauma is too violent. Memory cringes, whines, tries to slink away. One recollects only a kaleidoscopic flux of gruesomely fragmentary impressions, too outlandish to be perfectly accurate, too vivid to be entirely false: nightmarish revenants from the dim haunts of the collective unconscious ... monstrous, abortive shapes emerging from the abysmal murk of evolutionary history ... things pre-hominid, even pre-mammalian ... forms never quite resolving into discrete organisms, spilling over and into one another, making it uncertain where one ends and another begins. ... It really is awful.“
David Bentley Hart, ”The New York Yankees Are a Moral Abomination," in The New York Times
Saturday July 07, 2018
Severino Chases Record*
This was a headline a few days ago on ESPN.com:
It took me a second to realize that Yankees pitcher Luis Severino wasn't chasing the single-season strikeout record (Nolan Ryan, 383, 1973), but the Yankees' single-season strikeout record (Ron Guidry, 248, 1978), which, in 1978, didn't even lead the Majors (J.R. Richard's 303), nor his league (Nolan Ryan's 260). In fact, the all-time Yankees mark simply tied 39-year-old Phil Niekro for third place that year. That's what's being trumpeted. That's the great glory Severino is pursuing.
This is a headline how? A player is on pace to break a mediocre team record. Baseball Reference lists Guidry's mark as the 186th most strikeouts a pitcher has had in a season. If you remove 19th-century records, as you should, it's still tied for 127th. That's it. That's the mark Severino might break.
Hell, this season, Severino is ninth in the Majors in strikeouts. Ninth.
Headlines like these are yet another reason people hate the Yankees. No other team gets this treatment.