"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Huntingdon Valley, Pa (Sports Network) -
They Yankees did that, as did every team in Major League Baseball. They tossed their gloves out on the field and left them
there, on the outfield grass and next to the foul lines, until their turn at bat was over. That's where the expression
originated, tossing their gloves out on the field and the game was over. In essence, the Bronx Bombers just had to show up
and the rest was history, the final score predetermined by some higher authority.
Over the years, the pennants and Series wins mounted, one on top of the other. Another flag, another ceremony in center
field and one more parade down Broadway. It was monotonously thrilling. But, for a kid in the Bronx when baseball was
America's sport, it was fantastic. Runyonesque. A veritable unlimited resource for Norman Rockwell's incredible
interpretations of life.
From Ruth and Gehrig to DiMaggio, Dickey, Mantle, Maris, Berra, on to Raschi, Reynolds, Lopat and Ford, then to Mattingly,
Jackson, Winfield, Henderson, Tartabull and now Jeter, Williams, Martinez, O'Neil, Rivera. They have been loved more than
Mother Teresa, hated right up there with Attila the Hun, given fans the opportunity to do both at the same time and have
now achieved that most important element, respect. They are, without question, the team to beat and the one most pundits
expect to see in the Fall Classic once again, just like the announcement of new cars for 2001.
Babe Ruth swings
away during a 1931 Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. (Hulton Getty /Allsport)
How can anyone bring himself or herself to dislike Derek Jeter? He is the embodiment of the sport on and off the field.
He is the Michael Jordan of the diamond. Joe Torre's unchanging stoic and expressionless regard of the game he has crafted
in a particular encounter remains unblemished. He takes it the way it comes and expects that most of the results will be
in his team's favor. Don Zimmer and Mel Stottlemyre attend to all the grimacing, facial disrespect for an umpire's errant
call. It is almost a vote of the triumvirate before Torre unseats himself to have a few words of dispute with the arbiter
of the last decision. It is a fruitless task but one that pleases the fans and team.
They are, these Yankees, a melding of precision and camaraderie. They bring lunch pails to the office and only have one
thought in mind, to go out and win. There is no media confrontation; George Steinbrenner has been relegated, by his own
wise choice, to sitting back and leaving the decisions to those who know how to make them. He revels in it, entertains the
usual gang, from Donald Trump to theater mogul Robert Nederlander, in his private box, and spends the season drafting a
rehearsed impromptu acceptance speech to be made in about 5 months.
Derek has signed on for the run of the show, David Cone opted to stay, Bernie was offered more elsewhere and bypassed his
agent, Scott Boras, to call Steinbrenner for a mano-a-mano sit-down. Twenty-four hours later the $91 million being dangled
by Boston was reeled in and Bernie remained in pinstripes.
Williams swings against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium. (Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT)
The richness of the Yankee tradition is almost embarrassing. Others find it offensive because their clubs have not fared
as well. It is the cross that the Boston Celtics were forced to bear and, in years past, the Montreal Canadiens, Green Bay
Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers. George Steinbrenner, however, fomented a national distaste for the Boys from the Bronx as
well as for the city in which they played, New York. It is an easy place to dislike with a pace that makes Boise, Idaho or
Norman, Oklahoma look like time has stopped for the residents of places like that. Fast-paced metropolis with a business
attitude that is kill or be killed in a bustling atmosphere that undoubtedly shortens lives with indisputable regularity.
Where noxious fumes fill the air from cabs and buses streaming by without end as those in a greater hurry are shoehorned
into subway cars prowling the bowels of the city from dawn to dusk?and beyond.
Yet, this is a city with, unquestionably, the most loyal and knowledgeable fans in the country. There are segments
elsewhere that are just as frenzied with storied histories of their own and statistical databases in their minds. But,
none are more appreciative of the good or as outspoken of the unacceptable as these "Noo Yawkers." Now they have a team
people come to watch, to cheer, to speak of in terms like "Team of the 20th Century," with players that are not only
supremely talented but humble and gracious as well. The New York Yankees? Yup. Today, they are baseball. If General
Motors means cars and Coca-Cola is synonymous with soft drinks, Johnson and Johnson with baby powder and Kodak with film,
the NY on a cap or breast area of a uniform means baseball.
The Yankees have created more legends of the game than any other team, pinstriped immortals of a franchise that has won an
unprecedented 25 world championships. The latest edition, year 2000, Millennium Version, is likely to do a "threepeat"
after back-to-back titles and the only thing standing in their way is themselves. The best pitching, great offense, solid
defense, good bench, superior coaching coupled with a scouting and farm system without equal.
And, with the season just underway, for memory buffs out there who root for this club, a few tidbits. At the Yankee
Stadium inaugural in 1923 Babe Ruth slammed the first home run in its history, a three-run shot off Howard Ehmke to help
pitcher Bob Shawkey and the Yanks capture a 4-1 victory over the Red Sox. When the renovated House That Ruth Built was
unveiled for the 1976 home opener, Shawkey, now 85, threw out the first ball. The Yanks won, 11-4, but Minnesota Twins
outfielder Dan Ford hit the first homer in the modern Stadium.
Bob Feller took the mound for Cleveland in 1946 at the Stadium home opener and pitched a 1-0 no-hitter. This one came
courtesy of his catcher, Frankie Hayes, in the top of the ninth inning.
And who was the first designated hitter in a major league game to step up the plate? Ron Blomberg in the batter's box in
1973 in the first inning at Fenway Park against the Red Sox. He faced Luis Tiant with the bases loaded and walked to force
in a run. It was not, however, an official turn at bat but he did get credit for the RBI.
Use those when you next tip a brew with some friends.
Will anyone stand in the way of another title for New York, whether they throw their gloves out or not? You gotta be