Much like a Johnny “The Kingston Strongboy” Ellis belly-flop at home plate…another safe landing for The Pinstripe Bible.
For me, that argument begins in skepticism, in questioning every assumption about player value and strategic decisions, every myth about RBI-men and clutch hitting, and even poking a stick at sacred cows such as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. I seem to have also spent a disproportionate amount of my adult life writing about players such as Tony Womack, Clay Bellinger, Enrique Wilson, Ruben Sierra, and Xavier Nady. I love on-base percentage, damn it, but traditional media types, quite often including team broadcasters, love to heap the mythology on players who don’t reach base (and often don’t do much of anything), building them into unassailable towers of productivity whose normal status as journeymen (usually before and after their stint with the Yankees) thereby is rendered inexplicable.
As I said when I wrote the first YES-hosted installment of the PB, this column, the Pinstriped Bible, is about toying with those myths, holding them up to the light, and, when appropriate, discarding them - especially where they pertain to the New York Yankees. Those myths are obfuscations, designed to obscure the truth. It’s much easier to stick with the myth than to take the time to think about what you’re seeing, to the point that your prejudices make seeing a strain.
In 1953, Stengel (Yankees manager 1949-1960, for those that came in late) told his Yankees, “If we’re going to win the pennant, we’ve got to start thinking we’re not as good as we think we are.” A little doubt is a healthy thing, the Old Man was saying; we can always do better if we let the light of ratiocination shine down on our prejudices. It’s only in questioning our assumptions that we can break through to new solutions, new understandings of life-or how to run a baseball team. And this is true even when the team is winning.
The point here is to do what Casey asked his team to do: doubt a little, figure out what’s working and what’s not, and react honestly, and without homerism. Paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton, saying “My team, right or wrong!” is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober!” You can be honest about the Yankees and still be a Yankees fan in good standing.