Brett Gardner is a quintessential New York Yankee. But after all these years, his recent childish behavior endangers the spirit of play he is known and loved for…
Brett Gardner is my current favorite Yankee ballplayer. I trust there are others who say the same thing. Gardner’s hard-nosed always optimistic style of play is his trademark on the field. In retrospect though, Gardner’s childish banging of his bat on the roof of the dugout has no place in baseball, and surely not in the legacy of a truly great New York Yankee.
At first, it was looked at as kind of “cool”. A unique way of showing displeasure with umpiring. Loud and unmistakenly heard. But the images of Gardner at 36-years old and with 12 major league seasons under his belt leaves something to be desired. A madman at work – almost.
Over the years, we have seen Gardner crash into fences to make catches, diving into first base, and leading the charge for his teammates in the dugout and clubhouse. A Yankee warrior, in the same vein as the way George Steinbrenner referred to Paul O’Neil.
Almost certainly, Aaron Judge tried to make light of Gardner’s behavior by mimicking the roof banging. After getting on with a base hit, Judge pointed to his dugout with one arm pointing upward, simulating the gesture by Gardner. Upon further review, the Yankees should think twice before mimicking Judge when they get on base. It’s simply not “Yankeelike”.
In his own words, Brett Gardner says, “I do a lot of things to get our guys fired up”. That he does, and it’s the main reason why the Yankees brought him back this year on a one-year contract. And it’s the same reason they’ll bring Gardner back for a final year in pinstripes in 2020.
It’s Time For The Yankees To Move On
Gardner insists he “was not aware” of any rule barring his behavior in his dugout. He was, of course, referring to being tossed out of a game for the second time in two weeks by a rabbit-eared umpire.
Brett Gardner misses the point, though, if that’s the way he still feels. The salient point is that he is needed in the Yankees lineup. Forcing Aaron Boone to reset his lineup is not what Gardner intended, but it was the result. The ultimate teammate should have known better.
It’s all in the past now. While the team has a legitimate complaint about umpiring of late, Aaron Boone has sent the message to his troops. His Yankees have to stay and play within themselves. Boone includes himself in that as well he should. “Fu_ _ _n Savages” was a delightful moment in Boone’s tenure as manager. Who would have thought he had it in him?
But with four losses in a row and three games with the Dodgers this weekend in LA, the Yankees have more to think about than poor umpiring. Home field advantage in the postseason is on the line between the Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers. Yankee Stadium is where the team thrives.
It’s not likely Gardner will make the same mistake (my word) again. It was fun and at times funny. But it’s time to move on. There’s too much at stake here. And besides, these are not the images that tell the true value of Brett Gardner to the Yankees…