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New York Yankees

Fun must be always

Britt Huber

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The young Yankees have had plenty of reason to innovate with their celebrations, including dumping sunflower seeds on rookie Gleyber Torres. (Photo by Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)

Most shark attacks are not the result of malice. A bright swimsuit mistaken for a fish, a slick gray wetsuit confused for a seal, an experimental mouthful of unfortunately placed arm — the shark just did what it knows to do, living its life unaware of or unconcerned with the aftermath.

In the eighth inning on a comfortable Wednesday night, the Yankees smelled blood. There was no malice, no special desire to victimize Matt Barnes or Craig Kimbrel, who came in try to staunch the wound. The Yankees simply did what they set out to do, for themselves and on their own terms.

The last generation of Yankees with this type of talent and these expectations was a team constructed to win as if by an engineer. There was something cold and mercenary about it, even amidst the camaraderie and personalities. These Yankees are something more natural, more organic, though no less imposing; something more like that shark or a storm, a force of nature that you almost can’t help appreciate even as it ruins your day.

This isn’t the Evil Empire any longer. There’s no Death Star. It’s time we retire that nickname for good.

There have been more than a few pieces written about how likable this young Yankees team is, but likable almost isn’t the point. Even if you hate them, you have to acknowledge that what you hate is not the old cliches about buying talent, about forgetting it’s a game, about entitlement to championship aspirations even with an aging and questionable roster. What you hate is losing.

What has bedeviled those who continue to lean on the standard narrative about baseball in the Bronx since that August weekend when the Yankees said goodbye to Alex Rodriguez and promptly welcomed Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin is how the team has defied those old saws. Winning is still expected at all costs, and somehow we’re still arguing about Clint Frazier’s hair even while the league sells Red Thunder t-shirts for $29.99, but the other criticisms in the back pocket of disaffected rivals ring hollow now.

Gary Sanchez and his spectacular celebratory bat flip after his home run off Ken Giles is everything this team is now and everything they haven’t been before. These Yankees are many things that confound the stereotypes of their recent history, but mostly these — young, fun, and homegrown.

They’ve already fielded a starting lineup made entirely of players age 25 or younger. Judge, Austin, Sánchez, Luis Severino, Greg Bird, and Miguel Andujar were all drafted or signed as international free agents by the Yankees. Gleyber Torres, Chad Green, and Frazier came over in trades while still in the minors. Didi Gregorius was acquired long before he became the player he is now. Even among the Yankees’ priciest players is homegrown (then gone in free agency and returned by trade) talent David Robertson, a $40 million-plus closer deployed as a middle inning fireman because, well, why not?

But then there’s Giancarlo Stanton. The classic Yankee acquisition — pricey, already solidly in his prime, and the marquee player of the offseason. Struggling at first to get comfortable in pinstripes and booed for it. But also, somehow, unnecessary. If the Yankees are still guilty of any of the crimes of which they have so often been accused, it’s gluttony. So many players they didn’t even really need, so many home runs, so many strikeouts, so many relentless, greedy comebacks.

The man himself who exemplifies it even said as much. Speaking to The Athletic about his time in Miami and the differences of life in pinstripes, Stanton summed up these new-look, force-of-nature Yankees in one sentence. “Just having everyone in there knowing that we’re ready to tear the opponent apart — and to have that when it doesn’t matter who we’re playing — it’s a fun feeling.”

See? It’s fun.

Britt Huber is a Bay Area bred writer of many stripes with Florida roots. Her interests include catchers, sports labor law, crafty college pitchers, ridiculous minor league promotions, and whichever undervalued prospect she’s currently championing. You can find her on Twitter @brittalih.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Eddie

    May 15, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    The yankees fans don’t get to decide they are not the evil empire

  2. William K

    May 15, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    ‘cuse me, but f— the Yankees for now and as long as a Steinbrenner owns them. No ,wait , f— them forever.

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New York Yankees

Series preview | The Rays pay another visit to Yankee Stadium

Matt Gregory

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Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees continue an 11 game homestand Tuesday night with three games against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx. It is the last time Tampa Bay will visit Yankees stadium.

The Yankees have struggled against the Rays this season, as they have split 12 games so far, going 6-6. The Rays most recently took two of three back in July at Tropicana field. The Yankees received some bad news Monday, with CC Sabathia going to the disabled list with a knee injury.

The Rays starters have not been set yet, as they tend to use openers, and they only have two starters in their “rotation.” One of those starters is Blake Snell, who is a probable starter for the rubber game on Thursday. Snell has taken the leap this year, making the American League All-Star team and a stellar 2.18 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 128 innings.

However, Snell has struggled against the Yankees to the tune of nine earned runs in 8 1/3 innings of work, he walked seven batters in those starts and given up four home runs, the most he has given up against any team. The other possibilities for those two other starts could be Ryne Stanek, Jake Faria, Sergio Romo or Yonny Chirinos.

The Yankees are on track to run out J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, and Lance Lynn. Happ has been solid thus far for the Yankees, sporting a 3.00 ERA with 0.75 WHIP since coming over from Toronto. He bounced against the Texas Rangers after a bout of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease, going six innings and only giving up three earned runs.

That was exactly what the Yankees signed up for when they acquired him from Toronto on July 26th. Happ has been successful against the Rays, with a 2.53 ERA in two starts, though he walked seven batters in those two starts.

Masahiro Tanaka looks to bounce back on Wednesday from a rough start against the Rangers where he was tattooed for six runs in 5 innings of work, with three home runs surrendered. Tanaka looked like a different pitcher coming out of the All-Star break, giving up one earned run through 19 2/3 innings with 26 strikeouts and only one home run against him. The Rays could be a welcome sight, last time against the rays he pitched a complete game shutout with nine strikeouts and only four runners allowed.

The rubber game on Thursday should feature Lance Lynn. Lynn was another deadline acquisition for the Yankees in a trade with the Minnesota Twins for Tyler Austin. Through 16 2/3 innings, Lynn has given up one run and struck out 22 batters against four walks. Lynn has already surpassed his WAR total with the Twins in 3 games with the Yankees, as he has been worth .8 WAR since coming to New York.

He has taken Sonny Gray’s spot in the rotation and has not looked back. If Lynn can continue to provide steady 5-6 inning starts with limited damage, much less the performances he has provided thus far, then the Yankees will be in good shape.

The top performers for the Yankees offensively out of the All-Star break have been Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius.
Stanton has hit five home runs in the last seven days and is slashing .313/.382/.750 in August, picking up the slack with Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge on the disabled list. Gregorius has hit well against the Rays, with a slash line of .318/.362/.614 and three home runs with 13 runs batted in.

The goal for the Yankees? Come out of the series healthy and hopefully with a series win as they try to right the ship against the Rays.

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New York Yankees

Mets 8 Yankees 5 | Severino falters again

Matt Gregory

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Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Severino struggled yet again and failed to reach the fifth inning for the first time this season as the Yankees lost to the Mets on Monday night. The Yankees were able to scrape three runs out against Jacob DeGrom but Severino gave back four runs on two home runs. DeGrom struck out 12 Yankees in 6 2/3 innings of work. The Yankees look to bounce back tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx.

Turning Point

The sixth inning, when A.J. Cole gave up three home runs and allowed the Mets to stretch their lead to four runs. The Yankees had kept it close against DeGrom and would have had a shot if Cole had kept the deficit to just one run.

Three Takeaways

1. Severino struggled to get batters out with his four-seam fastball. Five of the seven hits came on four-seam fastballs with only three swinging strikes. He got 10 swinging strikes on his off-speed offerings. Whether he is tipping pitches or not, it seems like hitters are looking for his four-seamer and leaving his off-speed pitches alone, as he only got four called strikes between his change-up and slider.

2. A.J. Cole is having a rough August, he gave up three home runs in two innings and has given up six earned runs in only 7 innings this month. Two of the home runs came against lefties in the Mets lineup, which is the norm for Cole, as lefties are slashing .338/.421/.708 this season. He came into the game down one run and left the Yankees trailing by four runs in the seventh inning.

3. Gleyber Torres’ bat has gone dead in August, to the tune of .146 batting average with six hits and thirteen strikeouts in 41 at-bats. Torres has struggled since the All-Star break, with a .164 batting average and a .278 on-base percentage. Obviously, he is still working back from his injury before the all-star break, but he was a big part of the early year success and will need to get back to improve for the stretch run.

Player of the Game

Aaron Hicks scratched out two singles against Jacob DeGrom and drove in the first run for the Yankees. He reached base three times overall as he drew a walk in the eighth inning. The singles were not particularly hard-hit balls, but against DeGrom you take what you can get. He has a .402 OBP since the all-star break and is on pace to set a career high in WAR.

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New York Yankees

The Yankees are still dropping the ball regarding social issues

Matt Gregory

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Jun 17, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics fans wave flags on pride night during the first inning of the game against the San Diego Padres at O.co Coliseum. Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Tuesday, SNY.tv reported that the Yankees are planning to commemorate the Stonewall Riots with events in 2019. There have been no confirmations for the 2019 promotional calendar but SNY.tv states that several sources confirmed internal discussions to finalize the details of the events.

The Yankees later announced that they were reinstating their relationship with Papa John’s late Friday night, according to NJ.com. The move comes less than a month after suspending the relationship after finding out the face of the brand and CEO, John Schattner, used the n-word during a conference call in May.

A source with knowledge of the situation told NJ.com that there will be a rebranding of some Papa John’s logos in Yankee stadium, specifically to emphasize that the locations at the stadium are “locally owned and operated.”

Here’s the statement the Yankees released:

“As a result of the significant steps recently taken by Papa John’s, including the removal of their founder from all facets of their business, the Yankees have agreed to resume their relationship with the company,” the Yankees said in a statement late Friday night.

As we stated last month, we found the remarks made by the Papa John’s founder to be reprehensible, and our feelings on the matter have not changed.

The Yankees have had a longstanding relationship with 120 Papa John’s local franchise locations within the tri-state area, and we feel strongly that this incident does not represent their principles, values or their responsibilities to the communities they serve.

Papa John’s is implementing important and sincere measures to restore customers’ faith in their brand, including the launch of a diversity and inclusion committee, and a third-party audit of their company’s practices. We are confident the company will continue to take the appropriate measures to show their commitment to preventing such an egregious incident from happening again in the future.”

The move is disappointing and unfortunately, not surprising. The Yankees continue to prioritize their business opportunities and money streams over showing their fans that they do not support a business founded by a man who felt comfortable saying the n-word in a meeting. The move is indefensible and at this point, fans can only hope that there is enough negative feedback that the team will eventually consider severing all ties to the company.

Even with this small step forward to connect with the LGBTQ+ community, it came after backlash that the Yankees were one of two teams to not hold an event in 2018. It is a positive step and hopefully, it is not the last that the Yankees take to honor and work with the LGBTQ+ community. Still, with social issues even when the Yankees take one step forward, they find another way to take two steps back.

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