The Yankees of 2017 are marked by a brand of cohesiveness that is summed up in two three word captions. First, do your job. Second, pass the baton.
Yes, the Yankees sent five players to the All-Star Game. And yes, they have a player in Aaron Judge who is a sure Rookie of the Year award winner, as well as a probable MVP of the American League. And yes, they have one of the top three closers in the game today in Aroldis Chapman. But this is far from the story of the Yankees season this year.
The story of the 2017 New York Yankees is embodied in the 25 men who occupy the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium and a sign that appears on the door from the dugout to the clubhouse that reads, Do Your Job. The words are uncluttered, not flashy, and very plain. So too are the Yankees.
And it doesn’t matter if you are Tommy Kahnle, who was called on to pitch the final two innings of last night’s win, Masahiro Tanaka, who pitched the first seven innings, or any of several pitchers who were up and throwing in the bullpen at one time or another during the game.
Nor does it matter if you were the last man standing when Joe Girardi selected his DH for Game 5. Because Chase Headley comes ready to play every day, just as he did last night when he contributed three hits to the Yankees cause while batting .455 in the playoffs.
Or maybe you are one of those Yankees who stepped up last night with two-out RBI’s like Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius, and Gary Sanchez. Or, you might even be Todd Frazier, Aaron Hicks, and Brett Gardner, all of who went hitless in the game but still contributed by seeing forty pitches during their at-bats.
Pass The Baton
It’s what they call team baseball, where contributions come from anywhere and everywhere on any given day. The Yankees call it Pass The Baton as though they are running a relay race and one man’s effort is dependant on the next man, with no one standing out when the day is done.
To be sure, this is something we haven’t seen in the Bronx in a good long time. And, of course, it harkens back to a time when the Core Five (yes, Bernie Williams is always included) emanated an aura of camaraderie and companionship that lives to this day whenever a reunion takes place at the Stadium.
But this is not even that. It’s different. And unlike the teams that Gene Michael and George Steinbrenner put together for the 90’s run, these players are all homegrown and if you wanted to start a “Core Something,” you’d have to extend it to a Core Seven or Eight.
Even players like Gregorius and Starlin Castro, who came to the Yankees via trades, are homegrown in the sense that their years of development into what they represent now all came with the Yankees. Stretching it a bit perhaps, even Todd Frazier is “different” as a Yankee than he has ever been before with the Reds or White Sox. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where every time a camera pans to him, he’s got this boyish grin on his face that can’t hide the fun he is having as he plays pass the baton with the rest of the team.
Yankees: One Step Away
The playoffs are a crapshoot, and there is nothing in any of this guaranteeing the Yankees capturing the ALCS and moving on to the World Series. But one thing is certain. The Yankees remain united, unlike the Houston Astros, who are about to be torn apart by reports their coach, Alex Cora, will be leaving the team after the ALCS to become the new manager of the Boston Red Sox.
In short, the Yankees, because they insist on it, do not allow distractions of this type to enter the walls of their clubhouse. The simply do their job and pass the baton.