Orioles reliever Zach Britton


Keidel: Yankees Trades Further Feed Some Fans' Sense Of Entitlement

Some Don't Appreciate Realities Other Franchises Face

Jason Keidel
July 27, 2018 - 11:37 am

About 10 days ago, when I suggested the Yankees -- who were hovering around 30 games over .500 -- didn't need Manny Machado or any all-world mercenary to compete for a World Series, a Yankees fan responded via Twitter, "Last I checked, we were 2.5 games out of first place." At the time, the Yankees would have been in first place in any division except the AL East, on pace to win well over 100 games.

How do you respond to this, to these people, and to this logic? 

I can't recall the handle of that particular fan, but it's emblematic of a spiritual chasm that's so tough to bridge.    

It has to be a generational thing. Not in terms of education or intelligence, but just experience and perspective. Those who didn't live through the WPIX years of Bobby Meacham, Mike Pagliarulo, Dale Berra, Andre Robertson, Butch Wynegar, Ron Hassey and Claudell Washington can't possibly know what real struggle is. They didn't live through Stump Merrill. They haven't toiled through the meat-hook realities that befall just about every other MLB club. 

MORE: Keidel: Yankees' Trade For Britton Makes Perfect Sense

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman could not have performed any more wizardry on the club, turning the pinstriped tanker around in one quick year before it ran ashore, and has done nothing but fortify an already excellent ballclub this year, wrapping layers around a roster that's already embarrassingly rich with talent, with All-Stars and future stars who have bought in and played exceptionally well. Not even the unceremonious canning of longtime manager Joe Girardi has produced a blip or dip in play. 

If you weren't already satisfied with the Yankees, who came within nine innings of the World Series last year and then added 2017 National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the 2018 team, the brass added stout reliever Zach Britton and stalwart starter J.A. Happ to their rotation in trades this week. The only turbulence in this magic carpet ride to the playoffs came Thursday night when Aaron Judge got pounded in the wrist with a pitch and will be on the DL for about three weeks. 

Good thing they have Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres and a forest of bats that already had the Yankees near the top of the sport in every salient offensive category. Their lineup is so loaded that they can absorb a cracked wrist from last year's Rookie of the Year and barely skip a beat. 

The only valid hole in the Yankees' roster was in their rotation, and they just filled it. At 35, Happ is on the back nine of his career, but the Yankees weren't going to land Jacob deGrom or Madison Bumgarner. Nor did they need to. And they hardly gave up any gems from their bejeweled farm system to bag Happ. 

MORE: Britton On WFAN: 'Chasing A World Series Ring Is What It's All About

The Yanks had to surrender peripheral parts, including infielder Brandon Drury -- with a .176 batting average, one home run and seven RBIs -- and outfielder Billy McKinney, who's the 20th-ranked prospect in the Yankees' sprawling farm system. In other words, the Yanks made themselves better without sacrificing a single moment of their glittering future. 

And for those suffering from Red Sox dementia, keep in mind that Happ is 7-4 with a 2.98 ERA in his career against Boston, including a 0.84 ERA in two starts against them this season. 

It's not entirely the fans' fault for expecting the Yankees to wave cash under the noses of opposing GMs and expecting them to FedEx their prized players to the Bronx. The Yankees spent those infamous Evil Empire years -- kickstarted by the signing of Jason Giambi and cementing their place as a baseball toy story when they outbid the BoSox for Jose Contreras -- trying to buy their way into October. Aside from 2009, the business model didn't yield the World Series results commensurate to the spending. 

It's true that young Yankees fans didn't enter the realm of entitlement entirely on their own. The Bombers have charged Ali-Frazier prices for home games of little consequence. They acted like trust-fund babies by pulling themselves from a major cable provider, depriving scores of Comcast customers (like yours truly) from watching their favorite team for months. 

But one gripe we cannot reasonably voice is that the Yankees don't care about winning, or that they don't devote nearly every dime to winning a World Series every season, no matter how misguided they may have spent some of the coin. With Thursday night's win against the Royals, the Yanks inched to within 4 1/2 games of the Red Sox, who are playing out of their Bostonian minds. 

Plus, the Yankees' fortunes are not left to some celestial baseball jury that dishes out playoff spots. There are still 61 games to be played, including 11 more against their tormentors in Beantown, six of which are in September, as well as the final three games of the season. 

If the Yanks are so horrified of the wild-card game -- which, incidentally, propelled the 2014 Giants to the World Series title -- then they can just play better. You don't have to be of a certain age to grasp that concept.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel