By Ralph Nader
Another World Series – the twelfth in a row – without the New York Yankees, the richest franchise in the Major Leagues. The reason for this fall of the once formidable Yankee baseball dynasty is not difficult to discern. It is inept, smug management starting with the 23-year reign of General Manager Brian Cashman, to the amiable but overwhelmed manager, Aaron Boone. Against other baseball managers, Mr. Boone is out of his league. Competitors with far less money – think Tampa Bay – have teams that have run circles around the Yankees with better, faster, younger talent and greater drive to win.
Until recently, the Yankees’ management strategy has been self-defeating. For years they traded their minor league talent for over-the-hill, injury-prone MLB stars. Some trades worked out, but most loaded the Yankees’ treasury with huge financial obligations for very little return on the field. The result is that they strip-mined their farm teams and rejected the historic winning formula of growing their own talent that brought them 27 World Series championships until 2009. Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Derek Jeter, and scores of others made their way to the fabled stadium directly from Yankee Triple A teams.
Although recently, the Yankees are respecting the importance of their farm team players – Aaron Judge is an example – their trading acumen is almost non-existent. Just this year, two players on the Boston Red Sox’s – Eovaldi and Whitlock – gave the Yankees fits. These former Yankees were traded to Boston for no talent in return.
Moreover, the Yankees have been hobbled with so many injuries that their radio broadcasters, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman started a regular Injury Report. True, it included players from other teams, but the Yankees seem to win that dubious race with missing games totals. Our LeagueOfFans.org has vainly tried to seek an explanation of this unprecedented injury epidemic but to no avail. Our letters have gone unanswered. (See: “When It Comes to Injuries MLB Teams Remain Clueless” A League of Fans Special Report).
The Yankees have set another record. No baseball team announcers on radio have to narrate so many advertisements, not even close. Not only are these torrents of commercial pitches between innings and within innings of play, but I’ve heard ads by one announcer stashed inside the description of an ongoing play. Each significant move it seems – homers, calls to the bullpen, double plays, stolen bases are “brought to you” by some corporation. Kia brings you homers; Geico brings you change of pitchers. It is so irritating to listeners that one wonders why the advertisers pay top dollar to irritate the listeners and ruin their potential customers’ enjoyment of play on the field. No comment from the Yankees’ head office when such an inquiry was made.
See our list of some leading irritating advertisers:
- Geico Insurance
- Barnes Law Firm
- Kia Auto Dealers
- “Drive-by Jeep”
- Mutual of America Financial Group
- Spectrum Mobile
- Nissan auto mfg.
- Centric Brakes
- Chock Full o’Nuts coffee
- Indian Point Nuke
The sports media seems to fall all over the Yankees. The post-game meeting between Aaron Boone and the reporters exhibits an all-time low in patsy questions. Here’s one: “How did you feel watching Stanton’s home run?” Never any criticism, challenge or revelation by these reporters clutching their pads and wondering why there is reduced coverage in the media of their submissions. (At the least, asking why Boone took out Domingo German, pitching a no-hitter with one out in the 8th inning after giving up a double with a lead of 4-0. German’s successor proceeded to give up five runs in a 5-4 loss. Afterwards, German told a reporter he was feeling stronger in the 8th than earlier in the game).
The New York Times sports editors, infatuated with European soccer and its managerial jostlings off the field, cut back Major League Baseball coverage, with few exceptions, to a column of tiny print conveying scores and upcoming games. Forget the box-scores or the reporting on yesterday’s games. No time for the nation’s pastime for still millions of fans.
What should fans do? Demand a changing of the guard by the Steinbrenner brothers whose father would not have tolerated such unsuitable management, quite apart from his public outbursts. The Yankees are not keeping up with the rising youthful talent on other teams, many of them spectacular Hispanic “super-stars” in their early twenties. Historically, Yankees also have been very tardy recruiting Black players and the team has lost out from that indifference.
The biggest surprise in this saga of a fallen baseball empire has been the reticence and the passivity of the Yankee fans who made the Bronx cheer a mark of their displeasure from the stands. They have been given losing teams shaped by failing management that also overcharges their fans. From their homes, bars and vehicles, they are treated as advertisement bait with the play-by-play of the game as a secondary consideration by the Yankee profiteers.
Gone are the days of Mel Allen when the ads were only between innings, when players suffered very few injuries despite inferior safety equipment and field conditions (as with no helmets, gloves or padding on the walls) and fans were more respected. Sure, there is now free agency for the players, but how about some relief and smart leadership from new management for the Fans, especially those bypassed lower-income aficionados.
Fans of the Yankees, arouse, you have nothing to lose but your team’s losses as far as you can see.