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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mitchell: Baseball’s Dumbest Cliche

I’ve long felt that a well placed Hughie Jennings’ “Ee-yah!” should be used instead of baseball cliches.

One of the strangest and most annoying cliches to have worked its way into the baseball vernacular is the one that is a variation on the idea that the Yankees have to win the World Series every year or the season is a failure. This phrase seems to worm its way into almost every article on the Yankees. This otherwise standard pre-season article on Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano in the New York Times this week where writer Scott Cacciola describes the Yankees as being a team “for whom anything less than a World Series trophy is a symbol of failure,” is a recent example of this.

The basic problem with this cliche, like many cliches, is that it has no meaning. On one level, it states the obvious, that the Yankees would like to win the World Series every year. This, however, is true of most teams. Moreover, while the Yankees remain the most successful team in baseball history, winning the World Series every year, or even most years is simply not a realistic goal. The team has won one World Series in the last decade and even going back to its most successful recent period, has won only five of the last 17 championships. This is, of course, an extraordinary run of success, unless the platitude of winning every year is taken seriously. This cliche also suggests that other teams either only occasionally set out to win, or that when they do win, it is do to some kind of coincidence. However, in recent years teams like the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants and even the Boston Red Sox have managed more championships than the Yankees. Fans and management of those teams would probably not agree that those were the result of luck or anything of that nature.

...This cliche is not only meaningless, but it becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy which hurts the Yankees more than it helps them. The Yankees have backed themselves into a position where they can never go into a trading deadline as a seller, never walk away from a winter without a free agent signing and rarely go with a high upside young player to fill a hole. The result, as it has been for 11 of the last 12 years, is not meeting their goals and having a payroll that is bloated with old and declining players. The Yankees are learning the hard way that trying to win every year can mean not winning in any years.

Repoz Posted: February 21, 2013 at 05:53 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, yankees

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   1. tfbg9 Posted: February 21, 2013 at 08:55 AM (#4373235)
Gee, I dunno. Viscerally speaking, at least, every year the NYY's fail to "win" the WS is a good year for me. I'm sure a large slice of the world's baseball fans feel the same way.
   2. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: February 21, 2013 at 09:02 AM (#4373236)
Oh, I'm sure there are much dumber cliches than this. It's only the dumbest if your universe consists solely of the New York Yankees.
   3. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: February 21, 2013 at 09:17 AM (#4373248)
Given the way the Yankees are acting this past off-season--and arguably the way they did in 2008--it's not actually clear they believe the cliche. I'm inclined to think it's more of a marketing gimmick for self-entitled fans (speaking of which, here I am!) than it is the actual philosophy by which the team is run, at least to the extent TFA suggests.
   4. SG Posted: February 21, 2013 at 09:28 AM (#4373251)
I'm inclined to think it's more of a marketing gimmick for self-entitled fans (speaking of which, here I am!) than it is the actual philosophy by which the team is run, at least to the extent TFA suggests.


It could also have been true when George Steinbrenner was around and no longer true since his sons seem to care more about maximizing profit than winning.
   5. Hack Wilson Posted: February 21, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4373264)
On one level, it states the obvious, that the Yankees would like to win the World Series every year. This, however, is true of most teams.


No, I'm a Cub fan and I would be content if in my lifetime the Cubs lose the W.S.
   6. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 21, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4373344)
It seems pretty clear the players just repeat this because it's too much trouble not to.

But the silly concept has arisen since the wild card - basically with most fans of any team - that the playoffs are everything. That's why the postseason has been elevated over the regular season.

As far as cliches go, I'll take "We've got to take it day by day, one game at a time, not get too ahead of ourselves, stay within ourselves, not try to do too much." Etc, etc. The reason player interviews -- before the game, after the game, in a weekly radio segment, whatever -- are generally worthless is that this is all they say. They're not allowed to say something as simple as "I think we have a better team" or the media generates a ridiculous controversy about it and the opposing team posts the article in their clubhouse or whatever.

Because of the way everyone freaks out when something honest is said, players end up saying nothing at all.

This is also why it's generally silly to listen to a manager or head coach (in football) be interviewed. He says nothing.
   7. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: February 21, 2013 at 12:29 PM (#4373381)
I'm not a Cardinal fan but I did attend Game 6 and Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. I'm pretty sure most Cardinal fans thought that luck played a role in their victory that year.
   8. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: February 21, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4373403)
#6 is exactly how I feel.

I have nothing to add to it.
   9. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: February 21, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4373424)
#6 is exactly how I feel.

I have nothing to add to it.


You're going to take it post by post, one post at a time, not get too ahead of yourself, stay within yourself, not try to do too much, and the good lord willing everything will work out.
   10. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: February 21, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4373446)
My fingers are in the best shape of their lives!
   11. Karl from NY Posted: February 21, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4373457)
It's pretty much the NY Daily News and Post that invented this meme, right? They LOVE it when the Yankees lose in the playoffs, gives them column inches for weeks.
   12. Tippecanoe Posted: February 21, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4373504)
Look's lik Ray is seeing the ball real well right now, and chris h. has figured out how to win when he doesn't have his best stuff.
   13. There are no words... (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: February 21, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4373513)
Oh, I'm sure there are much dumber cliches than this. It's only the dumbest if your universe consists solely of the New York Yankees.


...as is the case for most Yankee fans.

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