At the Mound: Like any other team, parts make up the New York Yankees, and how proficient the Yankees are depends on the proficiency of their parts.
Furthermore, how a team performs becomes their identity. Teams internalize identities, positive or negative, which affects their attitude. For example, how they respond to adversity; do they choke or rise to the occasion?
Often, nicknames correspond to an identity. If someone is nicknamed “Smiley,” that person is generally happy-go-lucky, and “Speed” probably means they’re fast runners.
New York Yankee Nicknames: The most common moniker for the Yankees is “Bronx Bombers,” and it illustrates how nicknames are identity traits. The “Bronx” is a blue-collar-hard-working borough of New York City, and the Yankees mimic that work ethic. Also, Yankee Stadium is within the borough.
“Bombers,” refers to the power Yankee players display at home-plate.
Another Yankee nickname is “Murderer’s Row.” According to mlb.com, that nickname refers to the lineup of the 1927 Yankees, which included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, and Bob Meusel. That year, those four each batted over 300, hit a combined 130 home runs, and drove in 544 runs.
“Bronx Bombers” and “Murderer’s Row” identify the New York Yankees.
The Yankees Lost Their Identity in 2013: According to the article “New York Yankees,” the Yankees batted a paltry .242 as a team in 2013, and only one regular batted over .300. That’s a far cry from “Murderer’s Row.”
In 2013 the Yankees suffered through an injury-riddled season, in which 24 of their 25 man roster missed playing time during the year, according to Sports Illustrated. In order to field a team, Yankee management promoted players from the Minor Leagues and traded for others.
To these newcomers being a Yankee meant new experiences. Players played in Yankee Stadium for the first time, and the routines and coaches were new. They weren’t familiar with Yankee fans, and they felt the stress of playing for a berth in the post-season. Teammates had no identity to lead them, let alone Yankee identity.
“Monument Park” is the New York Yankees: When a new Yankee steps into the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium, they don’t comprehend the Yankee identity that resides just over the fence in center field. The revered “Monument Park” is only 408 feet away.
Among other Yankee icons, “Monument Park” commemorates the greatest New York Yankees: Ruth, Gering, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. If the wind blows toward home plate, the legacy of those Bronx Bombers wafts in from center field and engulfs the stadium. It takes time for players to understand the unbridled homage reserved for the memories imbedded in that memorial.
I believe that to rise to the top, in spite of the circumstances, is being a New York Yankee. Unfortunately, this year, the Yankees didn’t have players who understood that identity.
Cream, though, always rises to the top.