Bumpy Blame Game

We are half-way through the season and it is not looking good. We started off surprisingly strong, but now the Yankees are back down to earth. And we are seeing them for who they really are: a bunch of second and third stringers with a few regulars trying to play like the dynamo that Yankee fans expect. Nobody tries to lose (unless you’re the 1919 Black Sox), but trying your best isn’t always good enough. So who do we blame for the weak performances on the field?

Not playing the Blame Game.  photo by Brad Penner, US PRESSWIRE

Not playing the Blame Game. photo by Brad Penner, US PRESSWIRE

Do we blame Jeter and A-Rod for getting old and breaking down? Do we blame the injuries that no one saw coming (Granderson and Teixeira)? Do we blame the injuries we did see coming (Youkilis)? How about Cashman and Girardi? What about the Steinbrenner family? Let’s throw Kevin Long in there, too. And don’t forget that the actual players are accountable as well. But I mostly blame Bumpy Jones.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking–“Who the hell is Bumpy Jones?” Of course, I have a story to explain it to you. Years ago, my brother-in-law was working with a friend to sell t-shirts. They would take these cool photographs, colorize them to make them extremely eye-catching, and then print them on t-shirts. One of their shirts had a printed picture of this old wrinkly guy wearing a hat and a plaid jacket. When they were trying to sell these shirts for distribution, the foreign buyer wanted to know who this old guy was. So they said he was jazz legend Bumpy Jones. “You don’t know Bumpy Jones!?!?!” My fast-thinking, fast-talking brother-in-law made up a whole biography for Bumpy to keep the distributer interested!

So I blame Bumpy, a made-up figurehead designed to make the sale and make us feel better about the product. Because in actuality, there is no one person who should get the blame. Plenty of it to go around. But mostly we should blame our own expectations. All fans of dominating sports clubs are guilty of getting used to success that leads to championships. No different with the Yankees. We just expect them to be contenders. But let us not forget that there were plenty of down years–who here remembers the late eighties and the early nineties?!? Since then, we haven’t missed the playoffs. In 1998, we won 114 games, for crying out loud!

At the start of the season, we got excited and kept our expectations high because the team was getting it done. Didn’t we all know deep-down that the Yankees couldn’t keep this up? So once we realistically lower our expectations, the losses don’t hurt as much. Oh, you can still cheer for the Bronx Bombers (I’m not giving up), but you have to realize that this team, as it is built at this moment, is not ready for prime time. My favorite Yankee blog “An A-Blog for A-Rod” (which you should check out ) slapped me in the face with this before Sunday night’s loss to the Orioles:

– The Yankees have lost 4 of their last 5 games, 6 of their last 9, 11 of their last 16, and 19 of their last 31.

– They’ve scored 4 or fewer runs in 6 of their last 10 games and 14 of their last 20.

– In the month of June, they rank dead last in MLB in: Runs (83), Home Runs (17), SLG (.326), wOBA (.270), and wRC+ (65)

– They rank second to last in: Hits (181), RBI (80), Batting Average (.221), and OBP (.287)

– For the season, their team batting line is now down to .239/.301/.379 (.297 wOBA, 83 wRC+). If the entire Yankee offense was one player, they would be Drew Stubbs.

Drew Stubbs. Big oucher, man. But let’s change that last sentence to “If the entire Yankee offense was one player, they would be Bumpy Jones.” There. I feel better now.

It gets late early out there.

(Actually, there really is a Bumpy Jones. He was a member of the 1952 US Olympic swim team. He’s still alive today and holds many Masters swim records. FYI)


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