Jerry Ballgame weighs in on the Yankees and the Red Sox.
I’ve been trying to work that line from the classic western, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, into my reaction to the new New York Yankees, but I can’t quite get it to work. I’m sure you remember what I’m talking about. It’s that point in the movie when that faceless posse is chasing down our heroes, and one of them would stop and say, “Who are those guys?”. Then the other would say. “They’re very good!”, and that’s where it breaks down. Probably because this edition of the Yanks are not that good, ( at least not yet..) and even for a Red Sox fan, that’s hard to get used to.
Not that I expect that you true Yankees fans are intimidated by this year’s model of the BoSox (even if they take two out of three) and you’d be right. But I’m not comparing the Yanks to the Sox, but rather to the New York teams I watched when I growing up. The ones that had Bill “Moose” Skowron (pictured above) at first, Bobby Richardson at second, Tony Kubek at short, and Clete Boyer at third. The outfield had Roger Maris in right, Mickey Mantle in center, and Yogi Berra, when not catching, in left. When Yogi (who was obviously out there for his bat) was in left, Elston Howard would be behind the plate, catching Whitey Ford, the recently deceased Bob Turley, and the goat of the 1960 World Series Ralph Terry. (Just a side note; but I doubt a 5’11”, 195 pound first baseman in this day and age would be called “Moose”.)
When I think of my earliest Red Sox recollections, there are the obvious names Ted Williams, Frank Malzone, Carl Yastrzemski, Jimmy (“Fear Strikes Out”) Piersall and Jackie (I’m afraid to fly.) Jensen, and when I was in high school, Tony C. Then there are the not so obvious names like Don Buddin, Gary Geiger, Sammy White, Pumpsie Green, (who the Sox signed over Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson to be their first black player) and Chuck (no relations) Schilling.
Now you may ask what’s the point of this lesson in ancient history? There are essentially two. For one thing, I believe we are “imprinted” for the rest of our lives by those teams to whom we are first introduced and committed to either cheering for or rooting against. (I could have as easily listed my early Celtics and 76ers teams. Did I mention I once saw the Cousey led C’s play the Oscar Robinson led Cinncinati Royals?) I also have to believe that the strong memories are also tied into the specialness of the yearly pilgramages, with my father and brother, that I took down route 20 from Springfield to Boston, inprinting the many factors so strongly in my memory.
I also believe that the fact that these memories are all pre-free agency has something to do with it as well. Back in the days of “indentured servitude”, as the union is inclined to refer to it, a player literally belonged to a team from the moment they signed until the day they retired. Of course they could be traded, but they did not have the leverage to say where or when. Some teams (such as the Yanks) had their favorite trading partner (like the Kansas City A’s) to whom they always seemed able to dump a lesser or over-the hill talent. Such as New York did in 1959, when they got Roger Maris for Don Larsen, Hank Bauer, Norm Siebern, and the Marvelous Marv Throneberry.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we go back to the dark ages of eight team, pre-DH leagues, with only the first place teams advancing to post season play. However, I would not mind seeing the return of $5 grandstand seats, located within a reasonable distance of the field, 50 cent hot dogs, $5 parking, and $2 beers. I’m not necessarily suggesting that there is a connection between $120 million free agent contracts and $5 hot dogs, but, hey…$2 beers?
If Will Middlebrooks (3 home runs Sunday) and Mike Napoli (4 rbi’s on Sunday) can maintain that kind of production against the rest of the AL, and assuming David Ortiz returns to his July, 2012 levels, the Sox could make it interesting in the AL East. (What was R.A. Dickey thinking when he signed in Toronto. Don’t knuckleball pitchers regard a non-air condition induced breeze?) Stay tuned.
Featured image courtesy of: INTERNATIONAL NEWS PHOTOS
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