Monday, May 18, 2009

Whipped cream, wrestling belts, and tattoos: How this is a new Yankee crew

Have the Yankees turned a corner? Unlike a few weeks ago, when Mark Teixeira observed that the Yanks found a new way to lose each night, they seem to be finding a new hero to win each game. Sunday's star was Johnny Damon. But honorable mention should go to Mark Teixeira's terrific play earlier in the game to keep the Twins from scoring. Not to mention A.J. Burnett keeping them in the game - and supplying the whipped cream pies.

It was a funny game - the crowd seemed so pumped up in the ninth, then Joe Mauer nailing Brett Gardner on that terrific play at home plate seemed to take the air out of the Stadium. (Speaking of which, Squawker Jon and I were talking on the phone during the play. He noticed that Mauer faked out Gardner before the Yankee announcers did!)

Normally, you would think that this would be the end of the Yankees chances. And it still seemed eerily quiet the next inning, when the Yanks were at-bat. Until Damon hit his homer, that is. Liked how he threw his helmet in the air, and Melky Cabrera caught it!

It's an interesting dynamic this season, especially now that the team is winning. I like the new guys an awful lot, especially A.J. Burnett. What a change of pace he is. He's not only got his own personality as noticeable as all his tattoos, but he's not afraid to show his style - or the ink! Any guy who talks about once wearing nipple rings, as he did in Sunday's New York Post, is not your typical Yankee!

Ken Davidoff of Newsday noticed the clubhouse having a different tone this season, and wrote this: a clubhouse that has been so stuffy in recent years, with Derek Jeter's dislike of Alex Rodriguez serving as a defining characteristic, it's refreshing to see non-judgmental, accomplished veterans Burnett and CC Sabathia come here and join Damon as guys who are their own men. Who act respectful of Captain Jeter but are not beholden to him.
Mariano Rivera, of all people, was the one to tell Burnett to get the whipped cream ready for the walkoff win. That's a good sign. I think this team could use some fun for a change. I like the pies, and the WWE championship belt going to the star of the game.

Every year, I think it's going to be the year that this clubhouse loosens up a little. But this year, I think it might actually be the one, because of two things - the quirky characters are starting to outnumber the buttoned-down types, and two of the quirky characters are also pitchers the Yanks are paying $240+ million to.

On the other hand, Jeter still is, shall we say, not quirky in postgame interviews. Three walkoff wins in a row, and he still spoke in his Charlie Brown's teacher monotone after Sunday's game. Good grief. And Squawker Jon thinks that the whipped cream pie fun will end for good if the captain ever gets pied!

But still, it was a really great weekend. But which was the best game of the three? After initially thinking Saturday was better than Friday, because who would expect two walkoff wins in a row, let alone a walkoff homer hit by Prodigal Yankee A-Rod, I have to say Friday's was the top.

And it wins not just for the dramatic ninth inning, capped by Melky Cabrera's two-run single, or Brett Gardner's inside-the-park homer, or even for Squawker Jon and I being at the game, but for this story: Gardner went to visit children with life-threatening illnesses in the hospital on Friday, as part of an event for Project Sunshine, a charity that helps kids with medical issues. A little girl in the hospital gave him a Project Sunshine bracelet to wear, saying that if he did, he'd hit a homer. And not only did Gardner get a homer, but the child got the heart transplant she was waiting for the next day. Is that heartwarming or what?

What was your favorite game this weekend? Leave us a comment!


Uncle Mike said...

My favorite game from the weekend was also the Friday nighter. Going from a tie to a win in extra innings is great. Going from losing to having won in one swing in the bottom of the 9th, even if it's a "mere" single, especially when it's by a guy who was almost run out of town (Melky, not A-Rod) but has come back to deliver big-time, is more satisfying. Especially since it made the A-Rod and Damon walkoffs less surprising. But no less enjoyable.

Right now, the Yankees are playing like the 2006 Mets were said to play. Except the 2006 Mets had Aaron Heilmann and Billy Wagner. The 2009 Yankees have Mariano Rivera, and even a slightly diminished Rivera is still the best closer in the game.

That the Yankees have considerably loosened up breaks one of the biggest criticisms of the team, that they were too uptight, too "corporate." Maybe it's Damon's former Boston "idiotness" rubbing off on them. Maybe it's Teixeira proving that the early criticism didn't faze him. Maybe it's the new blood on the mound, the Initial Boys, CC and A.J. (Still not sure why Sabathia dropped the periods.) Maybe it's Melky rediscovering what Kevin Costner taught us: "This is a fun game. Let's have some fun, damn it!"

As for Derek Jeter: He can talk all he wants in a "Peanuts Teacher Monotone," as long as he still helps the Yankees' opponents say, "Auuuugh! I can't stand it! My stomach hurts! I'm depressed, Linus!" As well as the aforementioned, "Good grief!"

It's just as well. Anyone who hates the Yankees should be addressed as, "You blockhead!"

Anonymous said...

Great series for the Yanks so far. Hopefully the sweep tonight. Love Gardners hustle, Mauer probably only catcher in the majors to make that play. Different player stepping up each night and almost everyone contributing. Two comments: (1) keep Cash on the bench for emergencies and let Cerveli start till Molina or Posada returns: (2) Time to end the 3 Amigo experiment. Time for Girardi to own up to his mistake on keeping Albaladaho and send him to AAA for more work and send RAmeriz as well. Veras is out of options, so that is a tougher call. Keep Aceves and Tomko and welcome back Wang and Bruney.

Subway Squawkers said...

Just heard Mike Francesca griping about how A.J. Burnett better not pie Jeter or Posada until he wins a few games. Yeah, heaven forbid somebody try to built camaraderie on this team until he's paid his dues. Sheesh.


Search This Blog