The New York Yankees are widely considered the most historic franchise in all of American sports. A couple of weeks ago I purchased tickets to a Sunday night game. Derek Jeter night. One last chance to see the greatest player of a generation. I was there at his last game in Yankee Stadium. Steve Pierce’s game-tying home run in the top of the ninth landed two rows down. Three seats over from me. It was cool. I was on TV. Jeter came up third in the bottom of the ninth and singled home a run to win the game. It was a magical moment to end a magical career. Twenty years of over-priced tickets, overpaid players who aren’t worth their contracts, stupid, out of date rules about hair and facial hair, and more.
I am going to start there, with this god-awful team hair policy. Why can players grow mustaches but not have long hair? Think of all the marketing opportunities you could have with outfield prospect Clint Frazier when he reaches the major league level within the next year and a half. His flowing red locks could have given you the position player equivalent of New York Mets Noah Syndergaard. And this whole no facial hair below the upper lip bullshit that you have going on, cut it out. The first thing that players do when they leave the Yankees for another team is grow a beard. Good examples of this are Andrew Miller and Brian McCann, both of whom look like they haven’t shaved since Gene Michael was the GM.
More on the legendary Clint Frazier. Is it so terrible that the kid has a personality? In my opinion, that makes him a prime candidate to be a Yankee. Broadway is a short train ride away, and with a character like Frazier, Broadway could come to the Bronx. Especially when Suzyn Waldman fabricates stories.
Clint is a smart kid, he knows not to ask the team to un-retire the number of a baseball legend. He also has a girlfriend. If you paid attention to his Instagram you would see that he is clearly in love—after three months no less! Who cares if he sends a joke tweet to an Instagram model? The kid is twenty-one, let him live a little.
Now into the meat of my gripe: how this team has been built since I’ve been able to coherently remember watching baseball games. I grew up watching the tail end of the Derek Jeter/Joe Torre era, the era when your team had perhaps the fewest homegrown players, let alone homegrown stars. Brian Cashman’s greatest success before the August 1st, 2016 trade deadline was choosing to send Joaquín Árias alongside Alfonso Soriano to the Rangers for Alex Rodriguez instead of Robinson Cano.
The year Robinson Cano made his major league debut, 2005, there were ten players on the opening day roster that were homegrown players or players known for being Yankees. Out of those ten players only three were stars. In fact, Baseball America ranked your team twenty-forth in organizational rankings. From the great minds at Baseball America, “Plenty of emerging players, especially power arms, but none has played above Class A.”
Yes, the great free agent spending spree during the 2008/2009 offseason netted the team a championship, but only one. The infamous free agent spending spree of the 2013/2014 offseason resulted in a pathetic excuse of a playoff appearance in the 2015 American League Wild Card Game against the Houston Astros. Of these two splurges only two players remain on the active roster. The contractual numbers and on-field statistics for one of those acquisitions speak for itself: Jacoby Ellsbury, salary in 2017: $21.1 million. His 2016 end of year statistics include 20 successful steal attempts out of 28 attempts, and 12 home runs. These numbers show league-average production, at best, while his salary suggests he is producing at superstar levels.
So called superstars were not the only ones; you also approved the signing of some pretty awful players. Why was Stephen Drew ever on the team? People would go to the concession stands during his at-bats because they didn’t want to miss the in-between innings game on the giant video board. And why was Pete Kozma on the opening day roster in 2017? I understand the guy is known for his defense, but even that sucked. At least Rob Refsnyder could have given you more outfield depth.
To harken back to Jacoby Ellsbury, must you sign every former Red Sox player? How often does that work out for you? Sure you have the Babe Ruths, Sparky Lyles, Johnny Damons, and Andrew Millers who do well, but they are the exception, not the rule. Luis Tiant, Doug Mientkiewicz, Derek Lowe, and Tony Clark all had forgettable careers in the Bronx.
And don’t even get me started on Roger Clemens. Seriously, who throws a nub of a bat at a runner thinking it’s the ball? I still feel bad for Mike Piazza. I guess when it works it works though. At least Pedro Martinez realized that Daddy is always right. You should send him a thank you card for fixing Luis Severino.
You may have fixed one pitcher, but you probably destroyed another, and a local kid at that. Dellin Betances grew up in the Bronx, probably as a die-hard Yankees fan; he’s a top three set-up man in baseball, and you royally screwed him after the arbitration hearings. I understand y’all wanted to win the case, but to have the president of the organization, Randy Levine, publicly bash the guy was over the top. Levine called him Dylan, not Dellin. Just pay the man and have your people shut up.
What took you so long to retire Derek Jeter’s number? Everyone knew it was bound to happen. Were you waiting for the team to be bad so you could sell more tickets? You retired Mariano’s number two weeks before the season ended, and you held a farewell ceremony for Jeter with almost a month left in the 2014 season. People probably thought that Jeter died! Who holds a ceremony for an active player? Especially when his number has not been retired yet.
One last gripe: the new Yankee Stadium. As beautiful as the new stadium is, it is way too corporate. Those nice, comfortable looking seats right behind home plate and the dugouts sure make the stadium look nice, even when they remain empty during a Saturday night game in the middle of the summer against the Boston Red Sox. New additions for the 2017 season include a kid’s clubhouse, a sports lounge, and two new bars in the 300 level seats. How are people supposed to sit and enjoy a game if there’s no time to actually sit and watch the game? Baseball games looked better when the only option fans had was to grab a beer and sit in their seats. Don’t even get me started on the price people pay for stale chicken fingers.
Please Mr. Steinbrenner, take some time to give this lifelong fan’s concerns some thought.