Oscar Gamble's afro, Don Mattingly's mullet, Johnny Damon's "idiot" look -- all casualties of the Yankees' stringent (some might say corporate) insistence on stately, no-nonsense tradition for its roster throughout its storied history. Now another entry can been added to that list when the team's new center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, officially drops the letter "Y" from his first name.
"Everybody knows that 'Jacoby' is not a real name," said Yankees president Randy Levine in an interview with WFAN's Steve Somers. "Have you ever met a Jacoby? No. Have you ever even heard of someone named Jacoby? No. We told him that if he wanted to play here, he was going to have to use a real name, and he said he was fine with that."
Ellsbury will not be the first to drop the letter "Y" from their names over the years in deference to the glory of the pinstripes. Few are even aware that before joining the team in 1995, the Yankees' All-Star shortstop went by the name Dereky Jeter.
Reached by phone in Tampa, where he was in the midst of poring over William Gaddis' complete oeuvre in preparation for launching his own publishing imprint next year, the Yankee captain was characteristically tight-lipped when asked for comment on the Ellsbury name change. "All you guys are ready to write my baseball obituary because I missed some games last season. I've had injuries my whole career, it's not an issue. Talk to me at the end of the season," said Jeter.
Radio announcer John Sterling, the voice of the Yankees, had already begun rehearsing his newest home run call -- "We are climbing Jacoby's ladder!" -- when he heard the news.
"I mean, look, you can't predict the game of baseball. No one can," said Sterling, stretching the word "the" into his trademarked, many-syllabled bellow. "That's what makes baseball unlike any other sport there is. Did the Yankees make Wade Boggs change his name when he came over here? Wade is not a real name either, but they let him keep it."
In other Yankee-related news, the team is petitioning Commissioner Bud Selig to consider a ban on broadcasting the image of any player currently appealing a suspension for PEDs. If approved, television screens would be forced to go black during suspended players' at-bats. WFAN's Somers pointed out to Yankee president Levine that the only player who currently falls into this category would be the team's third baseman, Alex Rodriguez. "This has nothing to do with Alex," Levine replied. "As of now, he is a part of our plans for next season and we look forward to having him." In a rebuttal, Rodriguez took to the Internet last night, tweeting to his fans that he planned to protest the Yankees' actions by reverting to his preferred first name, Alexy.