November 12, 2019

The Yankees Answer the Bell in Game One

October 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A look at the toughness of the Yankees just as soon as Smithers brings me my vest made from real gorilla chest.  After the jump.

We don’t normally associate toughness with wealth and success in our society.  Bill Gates?  Not so tough.  C. Montgomery Burns?  Brittle as a dry twig.  Even Rocky had a robot waiting on him in the beginning of Rocky IV.

The cliché has always been that toughness derives from a lifetime of scratching and clawing one’s way through every challenge.  It’s why a lot of today’s best boxers come from underprivileged families and areas.  They’ve had to fight their whole lives, and simply don’t know any other way to live than by answering the bell round after round.

Andy from Shawshank Redemption had everything taken from him, was sodomized at the hands of the sisters, and beaten regularly by the guards.  Yet, he kept digging his hole to freedom.  No matter the circumstances, Andy answered the bell.  Andy was hardcore.

Last year, the New York Yankees were a resilient team that could never be counted out of a game.  They led the league in come-from-behind wins during the season.  This bred a deep-rooted confidence that led to their 27th World Series title.

However, the history books are littered with examples of wealth and success leading to success complacency self-destruction.  At the height of the Roman Empire, it controlled most of Europe, eastern Asia, and northern Africa.  Gradually the hard military lives of soldiers dissolved into the luxuries of the ruling class.  They lived fat off of the high taxes levied on conquered peoples, and lost the will to fight and work to a haze of the finest wines, cheeses, and Italian villas.  Then, when the Huns and Vandals invaded, nobody was prepared to answer the bell.

A month ago, I wrote that the Yankees were vulnerable.  Like Mr. Burns after taking candy from a baby, they had grown fat because of last year’s success, and simply didn’t have the stomach for a battle of attrition with the Rays for the AL East.  On Monday’s podcast, I compared them to an old rickety Buick.  Once a car like that gets moving in the wrong direction, it takes time and energy to turn it around.  I felt that manager Joe Girardi wasn’t prepared to invest the energy needed to right the ship.

Then the playoffs started and everything changed.  In two games in Minnesota, the Yankees trailed early only to claw their way back to the top.  Then in Game Three—when success could have easily turned to an air of luxury and ease—the Bronx Bombers stepped on the Twins’ throats and emotionlessly swept them out of the series.

Last night, in Game One of the ALCS against the Texas Rangers, C.C. Sabathia struggled.  The Yankees fell behind by five runs early in the game.  Had the afterglow from the ALDS sweep bred complacency?  Nope.  Not by a long shot.

In the eighth, trailing 5-1, Brett Gardner led off with a weak grounder to first.  Only the speedy Gardner hustled down the line and beat Texas pitcher C.J. Wilson to the bag with a gutsy headfirst slide.  Derek Jeter followed with an RBI double.  Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira grinded out walks, and set the stage for big hits from Alex Rodriguez, Cano, and Marcus Thames.  When the dust settled, the Yankees led 6-5.

Despite Texas putting the lead-off man on in the bottoms of the eighth and ninth, the Yankees would not relinquish that lead.

Instead of heading into Saturday night, hoping for a split and the unlikely wish of a weakened Cliff Lee in Game Three, the Yankees are eyeing a stranglehold on the series.  Last night, the defending champions took a beating for seven rounds.  Then, guided by a stoutness I didn’t know they had, they stood from their stools and, like Muhammad Ali in Zaire, they not only answered the bell, they demolished and demoralized their opponent.

Now someone needs to get Waylon Smithers on the phone.  Tell him his services aren’t needed in the Bronx.

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