"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Where Have You Gone, Horace Clarke?

Over man Cliff with a good piece over at SB Nation–The Conscience of a Lapsed Yankee Fan:

My favorite baseball books are about losers, oddballs, and failures, and what draws me back to every new baseball season isn’t whether or not the Yankees are going to win 95 or 100 games (they’ve won fewer than 94 just twice in the last 16 seasons), it’s seeing how the teams on the fringes perform. Is that rebuild working? Will this be the year that talented young team coalesces into a contender? Will that big trade acquisition or free agent signing take his new team to the next level? Can his previous team compensate for his loss? Can that talented but star-crossed team can stay healthy enough to contend? Did that perennial playoff loser miss its window for a championship? With that managerial change have any impact? How will that new stadium play? How ugly will those new uniforms really be? How will the new playoff or scheduling format impact the pennant races?

As for the Yankees, I don’t worry about them, and that’s what worries me. I want my daughter to love baseball, in part because I’ve dedicated part of my life to it and don’t want her to feel shut out of that. Baseball is a novel that unfolds over years, individual teams are puzzles that take years to solve. The Yankees, however, are more of a long-running television procedural. They hit all the same beats and catch phrases, the credits roll, and then they do it all over again. I spent my childhood hoping I’d see the Yankees win the World Series during my lifetime (yes, really). I suspect I’m now going to spend my daughter’s childhood hoping she’ll see them have a losing season.



1 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 5, 2012 2:55 pm

I suspect that many of us who grew up watching the Yanks of the late 80s/early 90s will share Cliff's feelings on this. My kids aren't old enough yet to really get baseball, but I hope they see the Yanks got through at least a couple of lean years. It makes the championships taste all the sweeter!

2 Sliced Bread   ~  Nov 5, 2012 3:26 pm

1) the lean years are coming whether we want them to or not.
Especially if the Yankees are serious about no longer subjecting themselves (and their fans) to the luxury tax. This is an old team, and who knows what it will look like in a few years.

My feeling is that you can't really make your kids a fan of your teams, or your music, or whatever. You can influence their opinion by choosing what to expose them to when they're young - but that is not what will ultimately determine whether they become fans.

I think most people eventually decide for themselves what to watch, what to listen to, who to root for, etc. regardless of what their parents told them.

3 Sliced Bread   ~  Nov 5, 2012 3:28 pm

That said, I've jokingly told my sons that if they ever want to root for the Red Sox they'll have to sleep out in the shed.

4 Jon DeRosa   ~  Nov 5, 2012 3:49 pm

It's hard when someone you like takes a position you diametrically oppose. Cliff's welcome back anytime, but all of what he wrote there rings so alien to me.

Oh well, to each his own form of fandom.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Nov 5, 2012 3:51 pm

I like the part about the long-running show. That said, even after covering the Yanks in this space for ten seasons as well as for SI and SNY, I still get nervous watching games and am still as hopeless a fan as ever. lol

6 Jon DeRosa   ~  Nov 5, 2012 3:59 pm

[5] And Yankee fans may have been spared the frustration of watching bad teams since 1994, but they have not been spared pain.

I admit that's a different thing than what the Royals and Pirates have been through, but it's not been an extended bed of roses from 1994-2012.

7 Start Spreading the News   ~  Nov 5, 2012 7:10 pm

I share Cliff's frustration about the Stadium. The new stadium is easier to navigate -- I don't miss the crowded walkways in the tier section of the old stadium. But it is so annoying to see a packed upper deck and a scattered lower deck. This year was the first time I went to a playoff game that wasn't sold out. Why build a stadium that is a replica of the old one when the old one could have been fixed for cheaper? And why did my tax dollars subsidize the rich Yankees?

Still, I will keep going to the Stadium as long as I can see Mariano pitch. Once he is gone for good, I will reconsider the season tickets I split with my friends.

8 William Juliano   ~  Nov 5, 2012 9:00 pm

[1] I feel completely the opposite way. My youth was spent yearning to see the Yankees my grandfather used to tell me about. When I watch them now, emulating those great teams, it connects me that relationship. The Yankees are about more than just winning in one season; it is about living up to a legacy. That is what I think has solidified my fandom into adulthood.

[4] I won't speak for Cliff, but busman's holidays can sometimes be a drag. I've been blogging for two-plus years now, almost daily, and sometimes it wears me down, but it isn't my career, so it still feels like a hobby. Maybe if my livelihood depended on it, that passion would wane. I suspect it would.

9 monkeypants   ~  Nov 6, 2012 12:00 am

[7] What pissed me off was that the walkways in the old stadium didn't need to be so crowded. The crowding was exacerbated by all of the carts and kiosks occupying the walkways and the fact that the Yankees insisted on draconian crowd control---like keeping most of the exits closed---that dramatically slowed the rate of emptying the stadium. Then they turned the self-imposed crowding into a justification to demolish the old place. Whatever.

With respect to Cliff's piece, I am not a former Yankees fan, but I've certainly lost a lot of interest over the last few years. Frankly, the organization bores me.

10 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 6, 2012 1:35 am

I can understand how Cliff feels. No matter how nice a guy he might be, it's hard to always root for Goliath.

However, as a fan since 1965, I feel I accumulated so much Yankee pain in my first 30 years of fandom, that the last 18 years of success have still not grown old.

I survived Mickey retiring.
I survived Bobby being traded.
I survived Thurman dying young.
And I survived George Steinbreener since Day 1, the ultimate torture test of a fan.

So I still enjoy the Yankees success. And while we continue to Win, it's not always an easy ride. Was this year easy? The year we tied the Sox? Watching Mo go down? There is still enough excitement for this old fan.

I haven't been to the stadium in over 20 years. Obviously, I haven't seen the New Stadium, but I have read enough from Banteres and others to understand the mistake the Yankees made. However, I think the New YS reflects more on the 'Baseball is a Business' theme then on a NY specific mindset. If other franchises could charge for 'Lengends Seats' and sell them, they would. Other stadiums only have cheap seats because they can't get more for them.

However, the restaurant in CF, the 'Moat', hiding Monument Park, and other 'features' are terrible designs, and I can only hope they will be fixed in the future. But the lack of real double-headers, day games, and the control TV has over the schedule are funtions of 'New Baseball', and suck. The extreme love of money ultimately ruins everything.

So while I understand how Cliff feels, one really 'exciting' year for the Yankees back in the bad ole days comes to mind. It was exciting because Hoss Clarke broke up TWO no-hitters in the 9th inning.

It's a bit like the rich kid lamenting that he's rich. The grass ain't always greener on the other side.

11 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 6, 2012 5:30 am

[10} Well said. The front office certainly has a Richie Rich mentality of late (the comic book Richie Rich, not the Robot Chicken version; though with some players that seems to abide). I don't think they'll "fix" anything though because they're still making money off the seats and the restaurant. When the moneyed fans stop coming (likely when they put up a few stinker years in a row), things will certainly change. The way they approach baseball on the field isn't likely to change while they have so much debt to deal with, while also navigating the problem with their self-imposed cap. It wouldn't be such an issue they are adamant about if the money they saves remaining under the limit wasn't so important TO THEM (i.e. their debt?)

12 Boatzilla   ~  Nov 6, 2012 7:03 am

That's an interesting article, from someone who, I assume, remembers Horace Clarke. I do. What can you do? I coached my daughter to be a Yankee fan. It was my only choice.

And even though her Japanese grandfather had long since migrated to the MLB and follows Team Ichiro. We enjoyed watching the Giants (of Tokyo) Japan "Climax" Series victory (this year) in family style...me yelling at the HD flatscreen and then explaining in English "why" to only daughter. But this rings odd to me from Cliff:

>>I see nothing wrong with the latter as long as the writer in >>question doesn't allow their fandom to color their writing about >>that or any other team. That's not easy, but I'm fairly objective >>by nature.

Nobody is objective by nature and not even by purpose. I studied journalism and as an ad man, I know about objectivity. News Flash: it does not exist.

13 William Juliano   ~  Nov 6, 2012 9:08 am

[9] [10] As one who went to at least 20 games in the Old Stadium, I found it increasingly inconvenient and uncomfortable to go to the old place. The infrastructure simply could not support 56K. That's why I don't think the Yankees made a mistake building a new place. The new Yankee Stadium is fantastic in every way, but one: the stratification. Eventually, I believe the team will have to revamp it's pricing structure, at which point all fans will be able to enjoy the Stadium more. It's a shame they didn't take more of that approach at the onset, but better late than never I guess.

14 William Juliano   ~  Nov 6, 2012 9:13 am

[12] Couldn't agree more. Too many people strive too hard to feign objectivity, when all that is really needed is transparency. As long as you acknowledge your bias and reveal it to others, credibility becomes a check and balance. If I want people to respect my opinion, I have to strive for rational thought, which, quite frankly, is much more valuable than some vague notion of objectivity.

15 Jon DeRosa   ~  Nov 6, 2012 9:15 am

[9] What's the difference between an exciting organization and a boring one?

16 Sliced Bread   ~  Nov 6, 2012 10:35 am

Objectivity absolutely exists, but it is often mistaken for indifference.

17 monkeypants   ~  Nov 6, 2012 11:05 am

[15] My attachment to baseball is partly aesthetic, partly emotional (actually, the two overlap). For example, when I think back to my youth, what excited me the most was following a player from the minor leagues to the bigs, hoping he would be the next Yankee great. More often than not he failed to live up to that, but I was still attached to those players. I'll always "love" Don Mattingly more than Tino Martinez or Jason Giambi or, for that matter, Mark Teixeira. BUt that is simply not the way the Yankees do business. Their personnel decisions are for the most part boring and predictable and do little to excite my emotions. Sure, when they win it's nice. But I find with each passing year I care less and less about the team. I no longer "follow" individual players every day in the box scores (save jeter) because I have little or no emotional attachment to the team.

Likewise the predictably bland new stadium, which outside of the mildly pretty facade/frieze is just another bog standard neo-retro stadium, with lots of loud music and a dizzying array of concessions about which I care little. The building holds no personal memories of any importance---they place my father and brother and I saw games is now apile of rubble. It's not particularly attractive (in my opinion). It's not even particularly unique or interesting. The playing field--big park in the bronx, the house that ruth built, death valley--is now a slightly smaller in the power alleys version of the house that Jack Clark built. I mean seriously, when Trost spoke breathlessly about "not being able to change the dimension of Yankee Stadium," I had to laugh.

As for the old stadium being too crowded for 56,000 people, they sure solved that...by cutting about 10,000 seats out of the new park. Brilliant. And that's before getting to the monstrosity of a restaurant in CF that blocks the views of a couple thousand fans. Well played.

The stadium is boring. The organization's approach to putting talent on the field, to "developing" players is boring. They win usually, and that's nice.

18 monkeypants   ~  Nov 6, 2012 11:06 am

[14][16] I doubt true objectivity exists, but I'm not convinced that journalists shouldn't strive for the ideal.

19 William Juliano   ~  Nov 6, 2012 1:03 pm

[16] Everything you're saying was probably said about YSII when they did the remodel. Also, the Yankees method of team building is really no different than most periods in franchise history. That doesn't mean you have to like them now, but I think it's unfair to point to the past as being much different.

[17] [18] I am not sure how you strive for objectivity. What thoughts do we have that aren't shaped by our experiences? We can strive to balance our bias by vigilantly considering all angles, but ultimately, I think full transparency is more valuable than whitewashing.

20 Jon DeRosa   ~  Nov 6, 2012 1:36 pm

[17] Thanks for answering.

21 The Mick536   ~  Nov 18, 2012 9:52 am

I am desperate to see them lose so we can find out who the fans are. Yankee fans have become more like Sox fans, more interested in the w's than the play. Last year's team had appeal, because they had character, although the final losses weren't all that classy. How could you not love them. Injuries. Players thought over the hill carried them, for a while. Jete, my MVP. Robie. Next year, do we find A-Rod and Tex playing station to station? Mo? Can they find some arms and legs? I will be there, but, if they don't win, I may feel like I felt during the Michael Burke years and the two at Shea. Tell the kid about Tepedino.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver