Passing The Test
By Rich Bauer
Two weeks ago we wrote about the Yankees having a tough test ahead based on their schedule and their competition. Well, safe to say they passed with flying colors!
The Bombers came away with two wins against the Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, and swept the defending World Series champion Cubs. Throw in last night’s win over the Cincinnati Reds and the Yankees sit at 21-9, the best record in baseball.
Bret Gardner has put a poor start to the season behind him. He was struggling big time at the plate but in the past week or so he is hitting .400, has 6 HRs and 14 RBIs. That output has been matched by Aaron Judge, one of the most consistent contributors this season, who everyone thought would be one of the most inconsistent. In the past week, Judge has been on a tear of his own hitting over .500, driving in 12 runs and hitting 6 HRs. He was 0-5 in game two versus the Cubs yet the Yanks still beat up on the world champions which to me is a positive sign for the overall health of the ball club. Also the Bombers batted around in the first inning of that same game which is more of an occurrence in sandlot games than in the Major Leagues.
The last time I saw these types of numbers I was playing Little League baseball in Stony Point, New York. The years were 1968, 1969 and 1970. My team was the Giants. I was a slick-fielding shortstop with a shaky bat. One could say I was in the mold of former Yankee shortstop Gene “Stick” Michael, a fan favorite who played for the Yanks from 1968 to 1974. Michael earned the nickname because of his slender frame and not his lifetime .229 batting average.
We had plenty of talent in that league and played some very serious high level games. A number of guys like the Lindberg brothers, Bolander, Fasano, Todd, Carey, Rooney and JJ (who is currently ill and needs our prayers) all went on to play college baseball. Ron Lindberg was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and beat out Howard Johnson at the shortstop position while playing in the minors, forcing HoJo to third base, the position he would later play in the bigs for the Tigers and our friends over in Queens, the Mets. Back in those days we all went by our last names. The only people who called us by our first names were our parents and teachers.
Getting back to the Yankees, I would have to say the team MVP to date is Starlin Castro. Put aside that he is leading the American League in a number of offensive categories for a minute. The reason he gets my vote is because he has been playing with a fire and a smile since Opening Day and that is contagious. His teammates, young and old, are feeding off him. The young guys say ” I want to be like that” and the vets say “ if he can do it so can I.”
A Met friend of mine down in Port St. Lucie sent me a great video from MLB.com of a young boy about 12 years old at Wrigley Field dressed in a Yankee cap and sweatshirt yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs cheering on the new, improved and for real New York Yankees. It is worth checking out.
I have mentioned our crosstown rivals the Mets a couple of times in this piece so I just wanted to ask some questions of Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey.
“What the hell were you guys thinking about?”
When you guys look in the mirror do you really see the figures of a Black Knight or Thor? Sadly enough I would say, yes, you do because you are so engulfed in your own self-promotion that you never considered that actions were deplorable, selfish and detrimental to the success of your team.
Baby Bombers take note not to be like these jerks.