Baby Yankees Need to Learn Tough Lessons to Earn their Stripes
By Cory Claus
The Baby Yankees learned painful lessons this weekend. They have one last awful lesson to learn.
Did you enjoy that, Baby Yankees? Did that feel good, Didi, Gary, Starlin and the rest? The Boston Red Sox just showed you what it means to be a part of this rivalry. How will you respond? How will you pay them back? Did you know before the series what it takes to beat the Red Sox in September?
But now you know. You know what it means to be a part of the biggest rivalry in baseball, maybe all of sports. Playing your rival in September means you want to win every game. You want to beat them in demoralizing fashion. You want to knock them out of any real playoff contention. And you want to hurt them, the way that losing two players in one game hurts.
You don’t just want to beat them up, you want to beat them down. That’s what the Sox did to you this weekend. I hope you enjoyed learning lesson number one.
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The Road Uniforms are Free
You have all earned your spots on the Yankees. But you must still prove worthy of wearing the pinstripes and those blue lines require payment. You must accomplish great things to be a Yankee. The obvious basics for any team are have a winning season and putting yourself in position to make the playoffs. Okay, you did those and earned a few stripes.
You also have to have a winning record against your division. The Yankees have not done that this year but some of that goes on the old players. And I mean old literally. You get a pass on the season but not the games played since the start of August. The team has done a lot better since then, but this weekend was the real test. You already know your grade.
Gary Sanchez, you earned a gold star and a few extra pinstripes. But since Derek Jeter only cares about winning, so do I. And so should you.
But to be a Yankee, and to become a Yankees legend, your goal has to be to beat the Red Sox every time you play them. This weekend showed you why. I don’t care if you love them or hate them. I don’t care if you spend the off-season in the Dominican Republic sharing a house with David Ortiz. All I care about is that, when you step on the field, you beat them. And you beat them down.
Learn to Count Past 27
Of course there are bigger goals for becoming a true Yankee. You have to perform well in the postseason, your team has to do well, and you must win a world series. Hideki Matsui is a forever Yankee for just those reasons. But to be a legend, a real Yankees legend, you have to have several great postseasons and several championships.
You only know the names of guys like Ruth, Berra, and Jackson because they accomplished all these goals and earned their pinstripes. The Yankees only give out legend status to a player who has not won a championship every hundred years or so and they already gave it to Donny Baseball. You’ll have to do it the hard way.
And it all starts by destroying the Red Sox. The good news is you do not have to manufacture any false feelings. This weekend should give you plenty of motivation. If you need a few more lessons about this rivalry, go back and look at 1978. Or watch the ALCS games from 2003 and 2004. Watch the 15-inning classic from August 2009, Becket versus Burnett. And do you really think it is a coincidence that Jeter dived into the stands against these Sox? If you don’t already know what it takes to be on the winning side of big games against the boys from Boston, you will.
The Yankees 2016 Denouement
This season is over. The Red Sox just ended it. So, I’ll ask it again: what are you going to do about it? What will you do when you play them at Yankees stadium later this month? After you honor David Ortiz, will you send him off with a crushing loss to remember his entire retirement? What will you do in 2017? Because if you don’t show some pride and power, and routinely beat the Red Sox, you won’t get a chance to earn more pinstripes.
But there is one more painful lesson to learn: you have to spend the rest of the 2016 regular season rooting for the Red Sox to win every game. The Orioles and Blue Jays each have seven games remaining with the Yankees and Sox. The only remote chance you have to get back in the race is if they both get swept by the Red Sox and by you. So, let’s go Red Sox!
How does that feel? Do you like rooting for a team that just kept punching you all weekend?
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You created this scenario, baby Yankees. You have almost no chance of making the playoffs because you allowed the Sox to sweep you, in September. Now you have to root for them. And the penultimate series of the season culminates at Yankees Stadium—your stadium—with a celebration of David Ortiz and his once again leading the Sox to the playoffs. If you want to still be wearing pinstripes in that stadium next year, learn your lessons well. And in 2017, teach a few of your own.