Will a Yankee Youth Movement Provide a Personality Transplant?
The Yankees have always been described as “corporate” – no hair past the collar, no beards, trim mustaches, suits and ties on the road, etc. When you sign on with the Yanks, you’re a travelling accountant with a bat and glove. You’re supposed to dedicate your entire being to winning and subservience to the club. Do not stick out. Do not draw attention to the individual – keep it on the team. Be Jeter-like in manner and appearance and all will work out. Watch the yawning in the stands when the team does not win.
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In the past two years, the team has rid itself of anyone with personality. Gone is the “faux-hawk” of Nick Swisher (and his meager playoff performance record). Gone is the smiling, handshake creating, sometimes loafing Robinson Cano. Gone was the game-ending “un-tucking” (and heart attack-inducing) Rafael Soriano.
As Bryan Brunati explores in his article, the Yankees, through their recent transactions, are seemingly ridding themselves of personality. As they bring in big contract veterans like MLB policeman Brian McCann and Red Sox supporting player Jacoby Ellsbury, they understand that with that big paycheck comes big responsibility – and a shave and haircut.
The personality (or lack thereof) of this organization comes from the very top. George Steinbrenner was a stickler for military-type organization and appearance. His son Hal, the new managing partner, seems to have either inherited his father’s policy or doesn’t care enough to change it (Hal seems to only show up at games when absolutely necessary and leaves most of the work to the cabal of Randy Levine, Lonn Trost and Brian Cashman). They have the perfect field leader for that philosophy in Joe Girardi – a no-nonsense, by-the-book, military-type manager.
But as Bruanti points out, sometimes excitement comes with youth. If that’s the case, the Yankees are positioned for an infusion of personality. Roster holes at shortstop, second base, and potentially right field, provide the opportunity of a personality implant. However, until the organization loosens up, I think that personality will continue to be dampened for the “greater good.” There’s nothing that draws the team together, no common cause (besides winning) or gimmick, no real personality or excitement – unless you count the starting performances of pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, which are now collective breath-holding sessions hoping he makes it though in one piece.
Of course, holding your breath in one way to stop the yawning.