Yankees: The revival of the Evil Empire
After watching Giancarlo Stanton’s Opening Day for the Yankees, is there any doubt that The Evil Empire is back?
Haters hate it, Yankee fans are obsessed with it, and life feels normal again. This offseason you could see the tension building, as more and more articles with Yankee headlines popped up and comment sections were filled with the same-old recycled insults of the Yankees and the media-alike for covering them.
What these doubters don’t realize, is that they contributed to this revival of the Yankees, a rebirth of an era with a similar but still unique aura like the 1998 – 2001 teams. This ultra, profound Yankees hate only feeds the monster and emboldens the legions of Yankee fans across the globe.
In fact, this is one of the main reasons why I recently began writing for Yanks Go Yard… to share my excitement for this Yankees team with others that sincerely agree with me and also with others that vehemently disagree with me.
This 2018 team has a number of similarities to the Core Four (or Core Five, I see you Bernie) era, with a number of homegrown stars supplemented by superstar additions. Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, Brett Gardner, Greg Bird, Jordan Montgomery, Chad Green, and Dellin Betances are all current Yankee lifers who standout on the roster. Just like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera, and Bernie Williams were all homegrown Yankee lifers during their dynasty days.
The key additions? For 2018, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Aroldis Chapman, Sonny Gray, David Robertson, etc. While Roger Clemens, David Cone, Orlando Hernandez, Chuck Knoblauch, Paul O’Neill, and Tino Martinez all joined during the last Yankees dynasty.
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Notice something about those lists? This year’s list is longer in both homegrown players and impact additions, demonstrating something not many people have come to grips with… this version of the Evil Empire might have come back even stronger.
This team has the potential to be more than just a core four or five, but a core seven, eight, nine… the potential is frightening when you consider the Yankees have a top two farm system according to many scouts and the money to sign the likes of a Manny Machado or Bryce Harper next year.
Of course, both versions have their own characteristics. This year’s team is built more like a bully ready to bash their opponents while Jeter’s team felt more like a Grandmaster in chess toying with opposing teams. However, they both shared the same mantra. “Expect to be great.”
These are the expectations the Yankees have set for themselves, and that is the aura they put out. Starting with their manager, Aaron Boone:
"“The expectations are huge. And we will embrace that.”"
The truth is, the high expectations for these Yankees started much earlier than this season, as the Yankees have set the trend of providing leadership and mental conditioning classes throughout their minor league system.
Although the effect is seemingly immeasurable, these young Yankees come up as prepared as possible for the expectations heaped on them when they finally don the pinstripes.
If you’re brought in from a different organization, you can bet that the Yankees vetted your personality and made sure you would fit into their culture; one that stresses hard work and doing whatever’s best for the team.
You can tell all of the outsiders on this Yankees squad brings a certain grit, from CC to Stanton to Brandon Drury, who ex-coach Torey Lovullo said about him:
"“A great competitor, a great teammate. Cares on a pretty impressive level about being the absolute best he can be every single day. The Yankees got a special player. Very quiet. Very intense. But very attentive.”"
Now if you’re a teenager from the United States picked in the amateur draft or one signed by the Yankees as an international free agent, you can expect to have the resources to become a successful ballplayer.
The Yankees were one of the first to offer mental conditioning, cultural, and English classes to their prospects in the minors, now employing five full-time mental health professionals who are always around the team.
They care for the player off-the-field as much as they care for the player on it, knowing the difficult transition to professional baseball can be as influential to player’s careers as their ability to hit the ball far or throw the ball fast.
Top prospects, such as graduates Judge, Severino, Sanchez, Tyler Wade and more, go to the Captain’s Camp, a roughly four-week long camp centered around leadership and being a good teammate that embraces the “Yankees Way”.
Winning is the Yankees way, and thus winning is valued throughout the entire organization, with their minor league affiliates finishing 2017 with the records of 86-55 in AAA, 92-48 in AA, 76-63 in high A, and 46-29 in low A.
Next: Stanton’s dream debut is just what he needed
This isn’t just a talented team of youngsters and veterans combining to form a strong contender. This is a team bred to win championships, a team that expects to be great. We’ve seen this in the past, and we were dubbed the Evil Empire, and now we’ve returned with a vengeance.