With yet another loss at the hands of a division rival, the New York Yankees sank to 4 1/2 games behind the first place Baltimore Orioles. It was the Bombers third consecutive setback and fourth in their last five contests.
Yankee fans took to social media sites to express their frustrations and lament a season lost. The problem is that we have only completed the 38th game of the New York Yankees campaign.
Before throwing this year into the proverbial wastebasket, and burning pillow-people decorated to look like manager Joe Girardi, allow me to share a story of another era where hope had been prematurely discarded.
Once upon a time there was a baseball team full of promise, and predicted to capture the world championship crown. It was a club comprised of stars and included a Cy Young award winner, a dynamic home run champion, a wildly unpredictable manager, and an owner despised because of his win-at-all-costs demeanor.
The manager, the home run champion, and the owner clashed often, and much was made of it in the media. The trio’s love-hate, symbiotic relationship provided constant fodder for the papers. The manager and home run champion once fought in the dugout during a game, and the manager and owner openly traded criticisms of each other in the papers. At one point the manager suspended the home run hitter for five games, and then used the press to communicate how he felt that harmony would return to the clubhouse. The turmoil the three created became quite a distraction for more than half of the season until the manager, under pressure from the owner, resigned following the 94th game. At that point, the team was 52 – 42, ten games behind their first place rivals, and chaos reigned within their clubhouse. It looked as though this highly-touted team was damaged beyond repair, and it acquired the nickname of the “Bronx Zoo”.
Fans and media alike began writing the obituaries for the team. Even though the new manager brought a calming influence to the clubhouse, as they entered August they still sat 7 1/2 games back. The season was all but said and done.
Then a funny thing happened on the way to their funeral – the team won 20 of 26 games prior to heading into a four-game set at their first place rivals. After sweeping their hated opponents, this team that had been left for dead was suddenly tied for first place in the American League East Division.
Of course you know by now that I speak of the 1978 New York Yankees and the rest of their storybook finish to that season. The Yankees would end up defeating the Boston Red Sox in a one-game playoff that was marked by the now famous Bucky Dent home run, and go on to win the World Series.
The point of all this is that we are still in May, and our current version of the Bronx Bombers doesn’t have nearly the issues that the New York Yankees from 1978 did. Yes, we have inconsistent pitching, and yes we cannot hit our way out of a paper bag with runners on base, but those are things that we still have time to correct.
After witnessing the 1978 season I vowed to myself that I would never give up on my New York Yankees until the number of games back is more than the number of games remaining on the schedule. That New York Yankees team 34 years ago was 14 games back on July 19th and in the midst of the most tumultuous season in their history, yet they ended up atop the summit of the baseball world.
Fellow New York Yankee fans, do not abandon the ship just yet. This team does have talent which will eventually show itself. Like the Bronx Zoo in 1978, we just need to keep believing and not throw ourselves into the abyss with all the naysayers.