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On the Impatience of New York Baseball Fans

Entry of May 20th

Suzyn Waldman, the Yankees radio color commentator, makes a very good point about the psyche of today’s New York baseball fans. “We play 162 one-game seasons in this town,” she says. The Yankees are hot now, winners of seven games in a row, most of them close games and thrilling come-from-behind wins at home. Yet boos still cascade from the stands whenever a Yankee reliever walks a batter.
I guess the memory is too fresh of the Yankee bullpen implosions early this season but it was just one or two games and not coincidentally, the reliability of the bullpen has improved during the winning streak. Yet there is no placating the demands of the Winnites who are not real fans in my opinion but have the outrageous sense of entitlement that has always made me loathe that kind of Yankee fan.

It is becoming just as bad on the other side of town. Winnites have been coming out in full throat ever since the Mets beat the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. Logic and humility should remind Mets fans that Red Sox blunders played a big role in that victory (the Rich Gedman passed ball as much as the Bill Buckner error) but of course there is nothing logical when it comes to sports passion and addiction. It is fortunate that the Mets’ recent defensive mishaps that cost them the last three games happened on the road but believe me, the culprits will hear plenty of Bronx cheers when they return to Queens next week. Even the New York Times is making a comparison to today’s Mets and the original blunderers of 1962. What is alarming about the Mets is that it seems they have nobody in their farm system who can play good defensive baseball. We’ll know more after they go into Fenway Park this weekend and face off against the Red Sox and their increasing loud and obnoxious Winnite fans.

As for me, I say that the Bronx cheers should remain in the Bronx where the term originated in the 1920s, probably coined after hearing those first set of Winnite fans who expected Babe Ruth to lead the Yankees to victory every game and every year. It didn’t happen, folks (Ruth won only four World Series rings as a Yankee) and it should not have happened. Especially when you consider that Red Sox owner Harry Frazee presented the Yankees with not only Babe Ruth but also Herb Pennock, Joe Bush, Joe Dugan and others. And Yankee gm Ed Barrow gratefully allowed Frazee, for whom he was field manager in Boston, to use a desk in his office for his theater work. (Learn all this and more in Dan Levitt’s fine Barrow biography from U. of Nebraska Press.)

**Speaking of Suzyn Waldman, as far as I know, she is the only radio broadcaster not to do one inning or even half-inning of play-by-play. She is playing Tonto to the Lone Ranger of John Sterling and for you old-timers I’d rather hear the voice of Clayton Moore any time. Even Yankee fans have told me that Sterling’s home run calls are increasingly buffoonish and worse, not accurate. Oh for the days of the Phil Rizzuto home run call – “It’s gone . . . holy cow, he called it foul!”

**Coming tomorrow – Reflections on the 50th anniversary of Major League Baseball’s commitment to expand in some version. I know I said this yesterday but this time I mean it!

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