Yankees Chase Headley and his Teammates Will to Power

Apr 21, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) slides safely into third base against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 21, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) slides safely into third base against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Yankees players are putting on a show. Prodigious home runs and knee-buckling strikeouts are the new Now. It might seem, at first glance, that Chase Headley is doing well but not integral to the Yankees success. Look again. He showed on Saturday the attitude and focus a winning club needs. And we need it as much as they do.

Yankees baseball is a beautiful sight to behold. Stop and think about what they did this week. Severino and Tanaka spent the mid-week out pitching the best pitchers in the division. Aaron Judge and the Jury started hitting the Orioles late Friday night and did not stop pummeling them until Saturday afternoon.

By then, the Orioles were merely lying on the field twitching, bloody, and beaten.

So the results of the Yankees play is evident as they have the best record in baseball, for Now. And they own perhaps a more impressive stat: Run Differential. This shows the difference in how many runs your team has scored versus how many they have allowed, a key stat for gauging the overall quality of a team.

More from Yanks Go Yard

Teams numbered two through four behind the Yankees are the Cubs, Diamondbacks and the Nationals. The Cubbies have a plus 22, a winning record and their division’s lead. Arizona—plus 27—is second in its division but has more wins than the Cubs. And the Nationals are at plus 30, the second highest in the majors, and the not-so-coincidental second best record in the majors (16-8).

The Yankees are at plus 46.

What that reflects is that every member of the team is at least trying to do his job. Every player is focused on winning. And every player is in the Now. That is all-important. And if you watched Saturday’s game, and Chase Headley in particular, you saw the reason behind the Yankees success.

Heroics are not Always Highlights

Friday night’s comeback was big, big enough to spill into Saturday afternoon. Those laurels weren’t just big enough to rest on, they were big enough to drink and then sleep on. It was a rare occurrence–the Orioles had not lost a lead that big since the 50’s–and it would have been understandable, although still regrettable if the Yankees had lingered in Friday through Saturday afternoon. A kind of baseball Brigadoon.

But in the third inning, Chase Headley made a great play on a well-struck ball. It was fun and exciting at the moment but incomprehensibly insignificant in the scope of a season. And Headley could have looked at it that way; the Yankees were up 5-0 at the time. He could have felt that this was a good play but one of many.

Video Courtesy of the YES Network

Or he could have been feeling the flush of Friday’s victory and have more of a blasé, “of course I would make a play like that” attitude. Instead, he got up as excited about that play as Starlin’s game-tying homer the night before.

And he should be. Because it takes more than just the big, highlight home runs to create a winning season, a championship season. It makes every player focused and living in the Now on every play. Headley was focused on the Now; not the division lead, not the night before, not even the five-run lead in this game.

Headley and the Yankees know that the season is long and can swallow a player’s focus. That’s what make baseball so hard. You can put the most talented team on the field, but the team will not be successful if the players only bring a portion of their talent to bear on a daily basis. Winning players and teams live as much in the Now as possible; it’s the key to success in baseball, and in life.

Like Holding Water in Your Hands

We should all try to live in the Now, as much as possible. It can be hard with all the distractions, noise, and legitimate needs to plan ahead. The world is too much with us, Wordsworth once wrote. And it truly does sap our power.

That’s why it is important to find as much time as possible just to be. To stop time, in a way, and let that amorphous thing we call Now just wash over us. No yesterday, no tomorrow, no hopes or dreams or fears; just the Now. You reverse the flow of energy in the Now, recalling your thoughts and emotions to you instead of sending them out to focus on other things. It makes you grow big, as big as the universe, and in touch with all your powers.

Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

It can be hard to do in a life lived every day, or a baseball season played seemingly every day. And it can be easy to let go of your focus and let a day or week go by without being the best version of yourself, without getting the most from your talents.

Or letting hard hit ground balls go by because, well, there will be others. And this one, in the scope of time, is meaningless. The person and player killing time.

Yankees Make Time for Greatness

Emerson wrote that killing time meant injuring eternity. I am not so sure of that. Time is hard enough to understand without conceptualizing Now, or the stopping of time. But whether eternity is a lake—all encompassing but with moving and ill-defined borders—or a raging river that flows back to itself, it seems that lazily throwing a rock into it might disrupt it for a moment, but does that damage the water? I don’t know.

But I do know that throwing away chances to play your best does hurt your team. The Yankees seem to know it, too. They showed it on Friday night when they came back in the late innings, never giving away an at-bat. And they showed it again on Saturday. Brett Gardner showed it with his bat, Pineda with the ball, and Headley with his glove.

I still think the Red Sox and Indians will have better records than the Yankees. The talent on those teams is still better, top to bottom. But if the Yanks keep their focus on the Now at this same high level, they can beat those teams when it counts most. It is even possible, although still not probable, that they will be the last team standing.

And that’s a Now I might want to linger in, eternity be damned.