“Man this is baseball. You gotta stop thinking, just have fun.” This phrase was uttered in the classic baseball movie, The Sandlot, from Benny the Jet to Scotty Smalls. While its message is simple and concise, some of the professionals fail to adhere to the advice. They take it as a job, and don’t realize that hundreds of thousands of people would love to be able to do what they do everyday. Some players and teams have that chemistry, and are able to play ball successfully and have a good time. Others are not, and that includes the 2015 New York Yankees. While they have their moments, for the most part they are just businessmen in a baseball uniform. They are too tense, and are still searching for that dugout leader now that Derek Jeter is no longer there.
The Yankees are built on pride and tradition. Putting on the Yankees uniform is different than putting on any other uniform in baseball. Capturing 27 World Series titles in their distinguished history, the most of any franchise in sports, the players who wear those pinstripes feel obligated to add to that total. But the Yankees are in a drought if you’d like to say, only winning one title since 2000. There has been a trend among these Yankee teams; they fail to have fun while they play. They are too caught up in the tradition and winning ways that they forget why they began to play the game, and take it too seriously.
While I’m not bashing the Yankees at all, I believe that a looser attitude could do them some good. Look at the teams that have been successful this year and in recent years. The Kansas City Royals came one game away from winning it all in 2014, and are on pace to capture the best record in the American League in 2015. They are a team with unreal chemistry, one led by backstop Salvador Perez. He manages to keep that dugout and clubhouse loose, and always has a smile on his face. He manages to go play hard every day while making his teammates around him better. While the Royals don’t have the most talented roster in the Major Leagues, they manage to mesh so well that they find ways to win and are never out of a ballgame.
The 2015 Toronto Blue Jays have a number of guys in the dugout who keep the team loose, and it has certainly helped them turn their season around. New addition David Price has been known to be one of the best teammates in baseball, and Jose Bautista is always cracking smiles on the Blue Jay bench. Throw in a Marcus Stroman, who is one of the most energetic young guys in baseball, and you have a team that is one of the loosest in the bigs. This new attitude that the Jays have this year is one of the reasons that they are playoff bound, and are likely to make it far this postseason.
If you look at successful Yankees teams of the past, you’ll notice a trend that they had one or more of those leaders who kept the dugout loose. Players like Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera were crucial in keeping the Yankees dugout alive, and made sure that their teammates were as engaged in the game as they were. The Yankees need someone to step up and wake this team up. While its already deep into the season, if they want a shot at winning World Series number 28 something needs to change. They certainly have the talent on their roster, but if these talented ballplayers fail to enjoy themselves while playing this great game, then they are only destined for failure.