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No Nicks: Dead Wood in the Yankee Lineup

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It’s frustrating being a fan. You don’t know who makes decisions or why. You have no say in those decisions, not even a puny quadrennial vote like in the electoral system. You know better than anyone what needs to be done to improve the team, but you helplessly watch as they chug along an unchanging, insane path to mediocrity. If the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior with the same terrible results over and over again, then by definition, whoever’s making decisions up in the Bronx is insane: They keep right on sending players to the bat that everyone knows will strike out, fly out, hit into a double play, leave guys stranded on base, or otherwise fuck up the group effort. That’s what’s been happening in nearly every Yankee game every time one of the Nicks, Johnson or Swisher, comes up to bat.

How come when Jeter or A-Rod hits a slump, it’s headline-shattering news, but when these guys plod along like this nobody says a word? Just as I can’t outguess Yankee management, I can’t outguess media treatment – or mistreatment — of players.

Since the start of the season, Nick Johnson’s gone up to bat 33 times. He’s had six hits, one home run, and four ribbies, with a .182 average. Swisher’s stats are slightly worse: in 33 at bats he’s had five hits, one homer, three ribbies, and a .152 average. Last year, up until the post-season, where he tanked, Swish was fine: His season average was .249 with 29 homeruns.

Johnson, who played for the team in 2001, ‘02 and ‘03, is reknowned for getting injured. As one blogger notes, “{M}ark my words there will be plenty of days when Johnson is absent. In his 7 full major league seasons…he’s played 100 games or more fewer times than he’s played less than 100 games.” I’m totally baffled as to why Nick Johnson is on this team.

Swish, on the other hand, can play better, and he ought to be getting extra coaching time; again, I have no idea if he is or not. I know they won’t throw him to the minors or get rid of him unless the situation becomes exceptionally dire – he’s one of the best-liked guys on the team, with good reason. Known for being a cut-up in Oakland, in New York everyone says he’s a riot in the locker room. I wonder how much of a riot someone can be when he’s performing the way Swish is?  In any case, he shouldn’t be tossed, but helped.

As stated, I know what needs to be done here. If only Girardi, Cashman, the brothers Steinbrenner and / or whoever is making these decisions would get with the program.

Mets Marathon: By now everyone’s heard about the 20-inning game Saturday night between the Mets and Cardinals. It reminded me of The Hector Quesadilla Story by  TC Boyle, probably the funniest baseball story ever written. Boyle hilariously describes the effects on everyone present of an endless ballgame. Around the 12th inning the players begin to look like they stepped out of “The Night of the Living Dead.” By the 27th, the vendors run out of beer, an umpire passes out, and one player drops ice cubes in his trousers to stay awake. In the 31st,  half the fans are asleep and the other half are “staring into nothingness” like the inmates of an insane asylum. Lest I destroy the humor with my selective quotes, I’ll stop. The story’s available on an NPR podcast titled “A Baseball Celebration”. Enjoy.


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