This is the Spring of our discontent, recent string of victories against the lowly A's notwithstanding. Watching the 21-22 Yankees play has been a painful experience way too often (April being particularly cringe worthy). The current state of the Bronx Bombers is best summed up by an often half-empty Stadium and the picture we unfailingly see behind home plate in every single home game: dozens of unoccupied seats. We do not see that at the Friendly Confines, where the 29-13 Cubs are on fire; nor is it mostly the case with cross-town "rivals," the Mets. But a good chunk of die-hard Yankee fans have been priced out and a losing record does nothing to motivate the 1 percenters. In fact, way things are going, Yankee Stadium might primarily become a tourist attraction -- a museum of sorts -- the problem being that museums celebrate the past not the present nor the future.
Maybe I am being overly pessimistic and overreacting. I certainly hope so. But I am simply tired of hearing excuses. Owner Hal Steinbrenner recently bemoaned the coming of parity in Major League Baseball. Perhaps, but where exactly is parity when you are dead last in the AL East? This is simply an unacceptable spot for the most successful sports franchise in U.S. history. Then again, Manager Joe Girardi publicly argued against defensive shifting, suggesting it be banned from the game. Many interpreted this as a manifestation of his traditionalism. However, General Manager Brian Cashman subsequently explained that the design of Yankee Stadium has made it much harder for the team to deal with such shifting. So it is the stadium's fault after all? Doubtful, since the same stadium, in all its glory, did not prevent the team from winning World Series in the past. File under sophisticated excuses, says I.
Folks, it is time for action. Cashman and Girardi have to deliver and shake things up. We need to draft another Derek Jeter and call up the likes of Robinson Canó and Mariano Rivera. Does Cashman still possess his magic scouting touch? Also necessary: make some clever trades, let certain stars go, give notice to everyone and stop making mental errors befitting Little Leaguers. Remember The Boss; and please fill behind home plate seats with members of the military and firefighters. Empty and losing is no way to go through MLB life.
The team can and should rebound. The recent home stretch and away victories show a glimmer of hope and perhaps much more. Our bullpen is formidable by any standard. There is still plenty of baseball left in this season. But when all is said and done, I am reminded of a line in possibly the greatest Italian novel of the past 100 years. In The Leopard, author Giuseppe di Lampedusa has one of the protagonists utter the following insight: "For things to remain the same, everything must change." If the Yankees want to remain the fabled franchise that perennially contends and spreads enthusiasm to its immense fan base, things better start changing. Fast!