The Baby Bombers. Oh, what a story it was. Youth, talent, the Yankees – the next baseball dynasty. Four years later, though, the dream is all but over.
The tag Baby Bombers resonated with the past and the future. The Bronx Bombers. The nickname was originally coined in 1936 by Daniel Daniels, who wrote for New York World-Telegram.
Adding the word “Baby” spoke of the future. Not the distant future but the immediate future. From 2016 forward, Baby Bombers symbolized the return to the glory of the Core Five and the Joe Torre years.
Talent? Are you kidding? Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez back to back in the Yankees lineup – just like the old days with the M & M boys.
And that gawky looking kid at first base, Greg Bird. The one Brian Cashman gushed over calling him the best pure hitter on the Yankees.
There was the talent to spare, almost too much talent. Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, and Jorge Mateo would have to burst into the Yankees lineup on their own.
Pitching? Well, typical of the Yankees, there wasn’t much to the hype in that department.
Still, there was Chance Adams, Blake Rutherford, Justus Sheffield, and Jordan Montgomery, all of whom were coming along just fine in the Yankee’s system.
Where Have All The Flowers Gone
And so it was that in March 2017, the Senior Writer for ESPN, Andrew Marchand, asked the obvious though rhetorical question: “Are The Baby Bombers Ready To Take Over Baseball?”
Of course, the Yankees were ready – and they still had Gleyber Torres in the wings, still in the stage of grooming led by Brian Cashman.
As Yankees fans are painfully aware, results did not meet the hype.
A fourth-place finish in 2016, followed by two second-place finishes.
Then, finally, an AL East Division title in 2019 when the Red Sox were doing their version of the dysfunctional New York Mets proved to be the opposite.
No titles. Not even an appearance in a World Series. Baby Bombs? Could it be?
What Went Wrong With The Baby Bombs?
Another rhetorical question that has any number of answers
Let’s start with an easy one – the pitching. It is significant to note that, except for Jordan Montgomery, not one of the pitchers cited above are with the Yankees today.
We can even add widely heralded James Kaprielian, who now toils in the minor leagues for the Oakland A’s to the list, to join each of the others as Baby Bomber pitchers the Yankees reluctantly gave up on, sending them away in trades.
But that’s the way it goes with pitching in the major leagues. Many are called, but few are chosen.
Babied and Brittle Bodies
But what about the position players, the Baby Bombers with the big bats?
Again, where do you begin? Actually, there is a place to start, and it has to do with the inability of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez to keep themselves (together!) on the field for anything close to a full season.
But first, let’s dismiss Greg Bird and send him to the school nurse. Okay, the guy had some bad luck with multiple injuries and subsequent surgery.
A sad baseball story and most Yankee fans will wish him well in his attempt to resurrect his career with the Texas Rangers.
But now we’re talking about the Golden Boy, Aaron Judge, who has the distinction of putting up prodigious numbers in two halves of a season – except none of the halves have occurred in the same season. For instance, here’s the Jekyll and Hyde season in 2018:
The trend continued through last year and may even extend into the 2020 season when and if we see baseball this year.
Gary Sanchez, the Yankees eternal hope, looms large in the eternal hope within the Baby Bombers.
Sanchez, for good reasons, I believe, has been my whipping boy over the years in this column.
The most “babied” of the Baby Bombers, the boy in a man’s body, has yet to overcome the basic moves required for a major league catcher. For the Yankees, he always just about to begin the proverbial launch to “turn the corner”. We’re waiting.
A specimen of a man, Gary Sanchez, can hit the daylights out of a pitched baseball. But there’s more to the game than that, Including staying in shape to avoid the frustrating leg and muscle pulls Sanchez has endured over the years.
Baby Bombers Rev. 2
It wasn’t what it was hyped up to be. But there are some salvageable parts.
Gleyber Torres is destined to be the next iconic Yankees infielder, wildly surpassing Derek Jeter as the glue which holds the team together. Perhaps, even supplanting Aaron Judge as the next Team Captain of the Yankees.
Judge and Sanchez are both on the cusp of a multi-year deal the Yankees are more than willing to give them.
It’s only the age-old baseball adage – what have you done for me lately – that stands in their way.
Tyler Wade and Clint Frazier remain interchangeable parts on the Yankees Roster. But I wouldn’t suggest either consider buying a home in the New York area anytime soon. As for Jorge Mateo, he’s no longer on the active roster.
So these things change and evolve – but one thing is a dead giveaway as to the epitaph of the Baby Bombers.
There isn’t one, and they are long forgotten—a dream, a memory, a religion for some, perhaps. But always, a baseball story like no other.
Baby Bombers: We Never Know – There Could Be A Rev. 3
The Yankees are a re-made team now. They finally captured the elusive White Whale Brian Cashman so fondly referred to in Gerrit Cole.
Take your pick – Miguel Andujar or Gio Urshela at third – who can lose. Contract renewals for DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka are a must, but with the season on hold, there’s time enough for that.
Giancarlo Stanton is and will always be the difference-maker. Only God, and maybe even He doesn’t know the answer to that one.
But the point is the Yankees have transcended the Baby Bombers.
Not because they wanted to, but because they had to move on.
The Baby Bombers filled a void in our imagination – the one that said the New York Yankees were – and will always be the king of the baseball universe.
A hard lesson to learn, but hopefully one that both the Baby Bombers and the Yankees can learn from – they’re still not dead, but they’re still only kicking.