Watching the 2019 version of the New York Yankees is making me wonder – is there something to this thing we call the “Pinstripes Mystique”…
Even as an avid fan of the Yankees, I’ve always thought the brand sold by the franchise outweighed reality by quite a bit. All the way from the legend surrounding Joe DiMaggio‘s quotation from October 1949 when someone (my research identifies no one) heard him utter, “I want to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee”, to the team’s posting of the quote in the tunnel leading to the dugout, and even to the purported “theft” of the sign by Derek Jeter – that type of hype and arrogance alone gives Yankee haters all the ammo they could possibly need.
And on to the mystique of those 40 World Series appearances and winning 27 Championships to the 23 Yankees (most by a team) who have plaques in the Baseball Hall of Fame, to George Steinbrenner’s purchase of the team for $8.7 million, now worth an astounding $4.6 billion (with a b) – the franchise almost is a caricature of itself – larger than life – an entity of its own.
Or, the mystique of wearing the Yankee Pinstripes where we find quotes like this one from David Wells:
To the comical (I hope this one is supposed to be) in this one from Frank Abagnale: “Why do the Yankees always win? … The other team can’t stop looking at the pinstripes”.
The Pinstripes Mystique – Alive In 2019?
As I mentioned before, I’ve never put much credence in any of this, until now, when I see The The Replacements subbing for the team of All-Stars out with injuries, not only keeping the Yankees in the hunt until players on the IL return but sitting in second place in the AL East only a game-and-a-half out of first place and winners of nine of their last eleven games. How are they doing this?
How is it that Gio Urshela steps in for Miguel Andujar to hit almost .300 (.294) in 18 games while playing a flawless defense that includes leading the league with most double plays started by a third baseman? Is it those Pinstripes?
Or how about Tyler Wade, who was thrust aside by the team and sent to the minors to begin the season, and his aggressiveness on the basepaths stealing bases and helping to create a new snapshot of the Yankees as a team that can run (2.66 stolen bases in their last three games). It has to be those Yankee Pinstripes.
Clint Frazier, who was not even in the Yankees plans as a fourth outfielder at season’s start, is recalled from the minors and sets out to prove he belongs – and this time he has the numbers to back up his words. Ironically, Frazier gets injured and winds up on the 10-day IL, only to be replaced by a journeyman major leaguer, Cameron Maybin, who contributes to a Yankees win on Friday with a base hit of his own.
There are others too, like Mike Tauchman, Mike Ford, and Domingo German, who is having a first half that reminds of former Yankees ace, Luis Severino. This doesn’t just “happen” – it’s created.
Okay, blah, blah, blah – the Yankees schedule has been “soft”, and we’ll see what happens when they play “real” major league teams. No, this Yankees Team is winning games on major league fields, one after another – and that’s all that matters – W’s with few L’s.
Believing In Themselves – Not A Mystique
This Yankees team believes in itself, and whether or not the mystique of pulling on the Pinstripes every night has anything to do with it, who really cares? A few, like Ford, Tauchman, and German are no doubt awed by their presence traveling first class with the team on this West Coast trip.
But it’s not just “living the dream” – it’s producing and contributing that drives them. For some, this brief tenure with the Yankees will just be a showcasing for their future when the regulars return and the trade season in July is upon us.
But for others like Frazier, German, and Wade, this is their wake-up call to the team brass that says – here I am – try to get send me down now.
Unlike Derek Jeter, who seemingly bought wholeheartedly into the “Pinstripes Mystique”, this version of the New York Yankees probably can’t recall anything factual about the careers of Joe Di Maggio, Mickey Mantle, Don Mattingly, etc. – good for them if that’s true.
And apparently, they don’t need a manufactured sign with “go get ’em” words on it, to glance at as they move into the Yankees dugout. Because, as they say, actions speak louder than words. And these Yankees are “speaking” in a very refreshing way and winning at the same time.