New York Yankees

Strange Daze

The Yankees appear dead as Christopher Moltisanti. I gulp an overflowing glass of rum and coke, attempting to ignore their latest disintegration. It’s May 11th, which doesn’t stop me from worrying.

Bottoms up.
 I’m at a local tavern, for the purposes of a celebration. My freshman year of college has been completed. Friends gather, wishing well, welcoming me back to the neighborhood.

 Long Island and I just didn’t mesh, the reason unbeknownst to me. My career isn’t where I wanted it to be, though I’m beginning to realize my set expectations were probably impossibly stratospheric.

Aye, this stuff is easy in theory, but not in practice.

I went through phases. Least favorite was angry journalist. I’ve ceased to care about the laughable attempt at journalism by our decidedly warped media. Let the cycle perpetuate, let the villains be cast and the crusaders pat themselves on the back, fine with me. It’s high time to sit back and watch the old hypothetical wheels turn `round, lest I drive myself crazy with useless anger.  

 I have these thoughts swimming inside my mind as Washburn slices and dices, a surgeon.

He mixes his pitches, gets ahead and finishes.

It shouldn’t be a secret. The Yankees’ vaunted lineup often shrinks when confronted with fearlessness.

I couldn’t recall being this frustrated in 2005, when the Bombers stumbled out of the gate.

What’s different this time?

This team is certainly of better construction. Not a Tony Womack in sight, though Robinson Cano is slumping toward a definite imitation. The Big Downer, Randy Johnson, was dealt for a decent crop of prospects. Another superstar of sulk, Gary Sheffield, was jettisoned early in the off-season.

General Manager Brian Cashman has an arduous agenda, attempting replenish a previously barren system while attaining short-term success.

 We all thought him capable.

Yet… there was the Kei Igawa disaster, a complete blight on every level of the organization.

And… the prospective haul acquired for those departed has been plagued by equal parts injury and underperformance.

Even worse… players expected to deliver dynamite offensive performance have unexpectedly stumbled, Bobby Abreu and the aforementioned Cano topping all categories in stagnation.  The bullpen has sunk to the depths. Luis Vizcaino, bought aboard by Cashman in the Johnson dump, has been horrendous, commanding only one pitch consistently: the hanging slider. Kyle Farnsworth, a gamble, continues exhibiting spotty location and questionable pitch selection. Even the great Mariano has slipped so far, lacking the acute command that has made his cutter the nastiest pitch in baseball for years.  

But nobody could have predicted that.

Is it the team, or myself, propelling this alarmist attitude, this lack of faith?

In all the change, good, bad or indifferent, from high school to college, from hired to fired and back again, has my previously sturdy belief system cracked?

I believed in 2005, even though the Opening Day Starting rotation prominently featured the nightmare trio of Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright. When the three amigos flopped, predictably injured or ineffective, the Yankees rested their fate on the likes of Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon.  

And they survived, by hook or crook, ultimately winning the division.

I knew it all along.


Almost time for another shot of Southern Comfort.


 I arrived at an epiphany, sitting at the bar. Every sports fan must go through this.

Hell, I’ve been here with the Jets.

This is the hard part, the test.

This is where we begin to disbelieve, when the memory bank becomes polluted by past failure, sour recollections applied to present circumstance.

For me, a Yankee fan, it had to be drastic.

It took a heartbreaking loss in a World Series, a complete wipeout in a Division Series, an anticlimactic disappointment in another Fall Classic, a historic choke, an Anaheim sequel, and finally, an embarrassing upset.

And I realize: last year did it.

Seeing the Tigers decimate Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright, two beacons of organizational incompetence lighting the way to defeat, finally shattered my previously unshakeable confidence.

I was downright melancholy last October.

My stomach was a reservoir of resignation. There was no shock or anger, only humbled acceptance that life doesn’t always offer happy endings. [Samba Pa Ti]    

I knew it would happen.

Hell, I firmly believed David Wells would come up huge as his waistline with our backs to the wall [2002], I thought we’d get to that punk kid Beckett [2003], I was convinced Kevin Brown had the heart to deliver in Game 7 [2004], I was positive Alex Rodriguez was going to awake from hibernation [2005], but, without a fragment of doubt, I knew Jaret Wright would get torched in Game Four [2006].

We can all relate.

Eagles fans repeatedly witnessing their Ultimate Weapon, Randall Cunningham, disarmed in the playoffs. Were they shocked as everyone else by the 1998 NFC Championship game, or did they send a solemn, knowing nod toward Minnesota?

Red Sox fans, before 2004 anyway, cursing a questionable managerial decision. Did they see Little Gate coming?

Brown fans, helplessly watching Elway drop back… did they come to anticipate all the future heartache?  

Faith can only float alone so long, before our team has to prove it, win our belief back.

Until then, that pit will always resurface, a low tide moving in…


 I ask for some tenacity, I get apathy. I ask for a little consistency, I’m rewarded frustration.

These are strange days.

I slumped into my seat, watching the game’s inevitable conclusion, the Mariners celebratory, the Yankees appropriately dour.

The world turns.  

A cute girl sitting under the elevated television set beckons my attention. She asks me if I’m a Yankee fan, says she can tell.

I smile, immediately lightening up.

I’m about to explain that isn’t such a bad deal, 27 World Championships, a parade of legends, a beautiful stadium… and than I remember Jeremy Bonderman stomping off a mound in Detroit to a chorus of ecstasy, the slayer of a once fearsome dragon.

No, I don’t want to talk baseball right now.

Instead, I ask what she’s drinking.  

  – Matt Waters

By mw2828

Matt Waters is a screenwriter currently living in New York. He has been writing about sports since age seventeen, about the time when it became painfully apparent that his athletic dreams would go unfulfilled, due to terrible luck and an obscene lack of talent. His favorite movie is “The Thin Red Line”. His favorite band is “Modest Mouse”. His favorite sport is baseball! With an exclamation point.

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