Thursday, May 6, 2010

A few thoughts on Rob Neyer's Yankee era list

I see that ESPN's Rob Neyer has decided to take a look at each Yankee era, and name each time frame after a player - Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, etc. But I have a few issues with some of the names. Here is Neyer's list:

1903-1905: Jack Chesbro Era
1906-1914: Hal Chase Era
1915-1919: Home Run Baker Era
1920-1935: Babe Ruth Era
1936-1942: Joe DiMaggio Era
1943-1945: Snuffy Stirnweiss Era
1946-1951: Joe DiMaggio Era (II)
1952-1964: Mickey Mantle Era
1965-1969: Horace Clark Era
1970-1976: Thurman Munson Era
1977-1981: Reggie Jackson Era
1982-1992: Dave Collins Era
1993-2010: Derek Jeter Era

And here are my issues with it:

* 1965-1969: Horace Clark Era and This era should be called the CBS Era, and go from 1965-1972 or so - the time that CBS owned the team (and ran it into the ground.) The date George Steinbrenner bought the team - January 6, 1973 - was when things really started to change in Yankeeland, although the on-field results didn't show until 1974-1975 or so.

* 1970-1976: Thurman Munson Era: Neyer notes that in 1970, the Yankees won 93 games and finished second in the AL East, with Munson as Rookie of the Year. Sounds impressive, right? But what Neyer does not note is that 1) Baltimore won 108 (!) games that year, and that the Yankees' second place finish that year would be the closest the Yanks would finish until 1975. In the next three seasons after 1970, the Yankees won 82, 79, and 80 games, not much better from their late-60s finishes. Nothing against Thurman, but it wasn't until GM Gabe Paul started wheeling and dealing, bringing the Nettles and the Chamblisses and the Willie Randolphs to the Bronx, that the new era really started.

* 1977-1981: Reggie Jackson Era: Eh, Neyer seems to be buying into the media hype about the Reggie-Thurman rivalry here. Reality was that Thurman suggested that the Yankees sign Reggie, and while the two got off to a rough start, they did forge a friendship of sorts over the years (Jackson even flew in Munson's plane.)

* 1982-1992: Dave Collins Era: This is the weakest part of Neyer's piece. It's just silly to name a decade-long era after somebody who played all of 111 games as a Yankee. Here's Neyer's logic: "What, you were expecting someone else? Yes, Don Mattingly was the Yankees' best player during most of these years. But do you really want to yoke Donnie Baseball to all those pennant-free seasons? This wasn't a good time for the franchise, but it wasn't Mattingly's fault." Um, who said naming the era after anybody meant it was their "fault?" Mattingly was the most popular player of his era. When people look back at those years, they think of him, not Dave Bleeping Collins!

Besides, what Neyer misses is that there were some very good Yankee teams in the 80s, with great hitters like Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, and Don Baylor. Their pitching was the sore spot, but the Yanks still finished with MLB's best record in the decade. The 1985 Yankees won 97 games, and would have made the playoffs if there had been a wild card back then. And the 1986 Yankees won 90 games. Neither team had anything in common with 1982, where The Boss briefly decided to make the Yankees into the new Cincinnati Reds.

* 1993-2010: Derek Jeter Era: Unless Derek Jeter secretly started playing in 1993, this doesn't really fit. Besides, the era is way too long, with very few players in common. I would split it up into two or even three eras. The first should start in 1993, when Bernie Williams became a full-time regular, end in 2001, and should be called the Bernie Williams Era, (he, not Jeter, is the player who most symbolized the up-and-coming youth in the early 90s.) You can call post-2001 the Jeter era if you want, or even split those years up into 2002-2007 and 2008-the present. Or, you could split it up into the Gene Michael Era and the Brian Cashman Era.

What do you think? Tell us about it!

1 comment:

Alvaro Fernandez Ravelo said...

Gene Michael, Brian Cashman I (when he was a pawn) and Brian Cashman II (it's me who calls the shots here)

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