Yankees far from my heart

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Indeed, never has a sporting event tugged at my emotions as much as the 1962 World Series between the Yankees and Giants, when I found it an impossibility to root against either team even though I suspect unconsciously I favored the Giants because by then they had become a daily part of my existence as a youngster growing up in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley near Fresno 180 miles away from San Francisco. But, oh, have my sentiments shifted in regard to the Yankees as the years have elapsed and as the team’s owner, George Steinbrenner, has made a competitive mockery of his sport by luring so many of the game’s most celebrated performers with lurid amounts of money. There are 30 teams now in major-league baseball, but there is only one the Yankees that inspires joy in me when they lose because this is a destiny that isn’t supposed to curse a ball club often with a scandalously inflated $220 million payroll. As the Yankees commence their annual postseason activity in the twilight today against the Los Angeles Angels at Angels Stadium, I’m privately amused by those who are saying their field commander, Joe Torre, deserves Manager of the Year honors. You’ve got to be kidding me! As the years pass inexorably by during one’s life, attitudes, habits, feelings and outlooks change as dramatically as one’s physical appearance. In the blithe innocence of my youth before the Giants arrived in San Francisco in 1958, I was a fervid devotee of the New York Yankees to the point I became uncommonly engrossed in their odyssey throughout each spring, summer and autumn. I would mail requests to the Yankees’ offices in New York for players’ autographs, and still have in my possession signed photos of such players as Mickey Mantle, Bill Skowron, Hank Bauer, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Whitey Ford, Gil McDougald, Tony Kubek and the team’s then venerable third base coach Frankie Crosetti. I never will forget the lingering heartache I felt when the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski slayed the Yankees with his dramatic World Series home run in 1960 even though by then I was sharing my baseball loyalties with the Giants. center_img The question about Torre, who was fired by three major-league teams before he turned into an instant managerial genius with the talent-drenched Yankees, is not how he guided his club to still another AL East Division title, but how the club managed to lose four more games than the notoriously budget conscious Chicago White Sox, who wound up with the AL’s top record at 99-63. I’m frankly surprised any time the Yankees lose a game with their glittering, mostly soldier of fortune, lineup of hitters that includes Derek Jeter (.309, 19 HR, 70 RBI), Alex Rodriguez (.321, 48, 121), Gary Sheffield (.291, 34 123), Hideki Matsui (.305, 23, 116), Jason Giambi (.271, 32, 87), Jorge Posada (.262, 19, 71) and Robinson Cano (.297, 14, 62). I realize the Yankees’ pitching staff was decimated by injuries, but losing Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano turned out to be a godsend for the team, since it went out and got a couple of fellows named Shawn Chacon (7-3) and Aaron Small (10-0) who were even better. And at least Torre was blessed to have his two future Hall of Fame pitchers, Randy Johnson, procured by Steinbrenner in the offseason for $18 million, and Mariano Rivera, throughout the season. Imagine how much better the record of the Boston Red Sox, which was the same 95-67 as the Yankees, would have been had their renowned starter, Curt Schilling, been healthy throughout the season, as well as their top reliever, Keith Foulke. The Red Sox manager, Terry Francona, has done just as deft a job as Torre getting the defending world champions back into the playoffs despite the adversities that included that celebrated mid-season meltdown of Manny Ramirez, yet no one is according him the credit he deserves. And what about Mike Scioscia, manager of the Angels? Should he not also be considered a serious Manager of the Year candidate since, after all, his team, too, finished 95-67, even though he had only one hitter, Valdimir Guerrero (.317, 32, 108), with impressive numbers and was stuck with a first baseman, Darin Erstad, who wound up with a mere seven home runs and 66 RBI. The Angels do have a utilty man, Chone Figgins, who causes havoc on the bases he led the majors in steals with 62 and they do have a strong starting pitching staff headed by Cy Young candidate Bartolo Colon (21-8, .3.48 ERA) and John Lackey (14-5, 3.44) and a powerful bullpen featuring Scot Shields, Kelvim Escobar, Brendan Donnelly and closer Frankie Rodriguez (45 saves). And the Angels have been characteristically resilient under Scioscia, enduring several gut-wrenching losses, including a couple against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in late July when they squandered four-run, eighth inning leads in consecutive games. The Angels have a recent history of not being intimidated by the Yankees, having gone 49-48 against them since 1996 and having eliminated them in four games in the best-of-5 divisional series in 2002 on the way to their storybook World Series title. It would be a glad sight to see the Angels prevail again, not because of provincial favoritism on my part but because of the pain such a result would have on the arrogant Steinbrenner, whose rapacious spending still hasn’t resulted in a world championship for his franchise since 2000. It’s difficult here to envision the Angels repeating their performance of three years ago against the Yankees because this New York team is so much more powerful with the additions of Rodriguez, Sheffield and Matsui. Despite his formidable record this season, Colon is known to be erratic he was blistered by the Texas Rangers in his last start in Anaheim and certainly was in an early season game against the Yankees when Rodriguez blasted three home runs off him during a 12-4 rout. I’m not sure the Angels have enough offense to overcome the formidable Yankee attack that has been in prime form in recent weeks. Baseball is a strange game with its maddening fickleness and bizarre rhythms, and it’s impossible to determine for sure what team will succeed the Red Sox as world champions, if indeed there is one who will do so. But nothing will be more enjoyable for me in the upcoming weeks if the Yankees fail George Steinbrenner once again, assuring the pompous old geezer of another dark winter. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img