September 26, 2012

Yankees Lack Dynasty Qualities

The typical sports dynasty is revered by its fans, despised by its opponents, but respected by most everyone. Certainly the Patriots of the past decade, the 90s' Chicago Bulls, and today's Miami Heat all fit that bill.

The New York Yankees are sports' quintessential dynasty. The Yankee teams of the late 90s and early 2000's stirred plenty of jealousy. But they also commanded an enormous amount of respect and admiration. The behavior of this current Yankee team shows time and again why they will likely never be included in the discussion of great Yankee teams.

Just this past weekend utility infielder Eric Chavez blasted his former team, the Oakland Athletics. Chavez was bothered by the A's bench celebration after home runs in the 13th inning. He called the actions "high schoolish and "pretty unprofessional."

"I thought it was distasteful," Chavez said. "That's not cool. That's not how you play the game. I am all for having fun, but that crossed the line. It is all about being humble."

Eric Chavez is teammates with Nick Swisher, Joba Chamberlin and Rafael Soriano. "Humble" doesn't describe any of them. Soriano untucks his shirt immediately after each save. Joba fist pumps at the end of each inning, as if he just recorded the final out of a playoff game. And Nick Swisher seems to rub every non-Yankee player and fan the wrong way. Chavez will have a tough time finding anyone outside his locker room to be sympathetic.

Two weeks ago Mark Teixiera complained following a loss to the Orioles. Teixiera was called out on a grounder, which would have scored a run and tied the game in the top of the ninth inning. After the game Teixiera commented, "Sometimes, you wonder if the umpires just want to get out of there. They don't want you to make a comeback; they want to go home. Those were terrible calls."

Lost in that accusatory statement was the fact that Teixiera slid head first into first base, despite all the research that show it slows a runner down. Also, there was no guarantee that a Yankee team that had lost four of its last of six games would come back to win. But don't worry, catcher Russell Martin had his teammate's back, "I didn't really feel like we lost the game. I feel like we got cheated out of it."

What about the home run call resulting from 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reaching down and snagging Derek Jeter's fly ball in the 1996 ALCS? This resulted in a Yankee run and eventual win. How about Joe Mauer's phantom foul-ball in Game 2 of the 2009 ALDS? Mauer's fly ball to left field was fair, but was called foul. Had the correct call been made, Mauer would have been on second base with no outs and the game tied at 3 in the top of the 11th. Ironically, the Yankees won the game on a Teixiera walk-off home run. Do these favorable Yankee calls qualify as umpires cheating the other team and wanting to go home?

The late 90s' Yankees didn't act like this. They let their performance speak for itself. Revere them or despise them, they were a classy group.

With Mariano Rivera out for the season, and Andy Pettitte slowly working his way back, Derek Jeter must look around and wonder where the organization's class has gone. As we enter the final week of the season, let's see if this current crop of pinstripes can channel their predecessors, clinch the division and make a deep playoff run, while earning the respect that a champion commands.

Pete is a lifelong Montauk resident and former sports talk host at 88.7FM WEER. He can be reached via email at peterfmundo@gmail.com.

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