After watching last night’s debacle masquerading as a baseball game, it is necessary for me to vent a bit.
Without question, Yankees fans are spoiled. We expect perfection – to a fault – and we demand excellence in the performance of the players on our team. Certainly such demands in this day and age of leveling and compromise, “equality” and “parity” can be scoffed at by others. But this is New York, baby. The hardest of the hard core fans live in the Greatest City in the World. But more importantly, the majority of us cut our teeth on the experience of winning three World Series in a row. We experienced the drive, will, and desire of players to not just give their all but to come to the ball park with the expectation to win, not just play the game.
We as fans can howl all we want to about the horrendous performance of the players this season. There are many passing fans who will use excuses like “but the injuries” or “they’re all new players” or “it takes time to get used to the big leagues.” Those excuses may suffice early on, but not now. Not when we are looking at veteran pitchers, 1st and 2nd basemen who hack away at the plate like they’re at the driving range, shortstops and outfielders who are committing errors that Little Leaguers would be embarrassed for committing.
But this all starts at the top. As much of a poppinjay as George Steinbrenner was, he had a genuine concern for the fans. He wanted to be certain we enjoyed a quality product on the field. He also wanted each fan to have an “experience” they would never forget. He understood that the team would not win every single game, but even in defeat, Mr. Steinbrenner sought to provide us with a hard fought game. How did he do that? He began by identifying the best possible coaches and managers who had experience, not just at their position as a player, but in conveying that knowledge to the players at those positions. Most importantly, these men were experienced in winning – not just getting to – the World Series. Equally important, Mr. Steinbrenner sought to attain quality by instilling a desire within the manager and coaches to provide the best quality guidance and instruction to the players.
Why was this? It was because he recognized that New Yorkers and, by extension, those who root for and support New York-based teams, are seeking value in what they support. That value is found in how the players ultimately perform on the field of play and how they execute the direction they are given by the coaching staff.
But today, we don’t see that value; we don’t see the commitment to excellence or the desire to outperform at their position. What we see are players going through the motions of the game. Sure there are flashes of interest, but that is solely for themselves, not the fans, not those for whom they are playing.
Long-term fans have seen the ticket prices from Yankee Stadium II skyrocket from between $500 to $800 for a seat behind home plate to $1,300 – 1,800 per game in Yankee Stadium III. Really? The Yankees Organization is insisting to sell tickets behind home plate so “fans” can watch this?!? No, that isn’t what is being sold; Hal and Hank are raking in cash by selling executive seats that are part of expense accounts for sales and client development staffers who use the lure of watching a Yankees game as a carrot for their client. The management from Hank and Hal down through Randy Levine, and Brian Cashman are all about filling the coffers with lots of money while diminishing the product on the field. This is no longer about a legitimate team that families and friends want to actively support.
Moreover the Yankees are putting a crappy product on the field that is disgracing the hallowed history of the team while turning away the legitimate fans who have followed and supported this team for decades. It is DISGRACEFUL how the owners, senior management, and the coaches allow the game to be played and how they manage both on the field and in the front office.