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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Enough already with the Yankee Core Four and what happened to Bernie Williams?

The New York Yankees are steeped in history but relying way too much on it as they sit mired at 4-4.  When the season started I thought the Yankees could win 85 games because their starting pitching looked good but the every day players were old or mediocre.

Monday was opening day at Yankee Stadium and the team trotted out their fabled Core Four: Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.  I listed them in order of importance as I see it.  Each played on the five most recent Yankee championship teams: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009.  Pettitte did it despite a three year diversion to the Houston Astros, which got him into a losing series against the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Jeter's comments in interviews suggest that these "brothers" do not socialize much, if at all, that they mostly see each other at these contrived Yankee events meant to bolster the team legacy and obscure the bad management of the team that has it so vulnerable on the field.  They're not exactly Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Billy Martin when it comes to being like brothers.

One problem is that it reminds us of recent success that diminishes the current players.

After the game Yankee announcer Micheal Kay said that it was great for the Yankees to bring back the Core Four.  Jeter is still playing.  How could he be brought back?  I've been a Yankee fan since 1958 and even I'm sick of hearing the phrase Core Four.

Thursday, October 26, 2000, 8:28PM, Shea Stadium
Attendance: 55,292, Time of Game: 3:32

Yankees 4, Mets 2

Yankees win their third consecutive championship during the Jeter era.  Pettitte started the game with Jeter at short, Posada catching.  Rivera pitched the final inning and got the save.  Mike Stanton pitched the 8th inning and got the win.  Met catcher Mike Piazza made the final out on a scorching line drive to center field.  Who's that I see making the catch in that grainy old non-HD video?  Is he real?  Has his identity been obliterated?  Has he been removed from Yankee consciousness?

Bernie Williams bounces ceremonial first pitch.
April 13, 2010 by chris.ptacek on Flickr
via Wikimedia Commons
What the heck happened to Bernie Williams?  Has he been removed along the lines of another Yankee center fielder from the most recent championship team: Melky Cabrera?

Alex Rodriguez is an active player! At least according to baseball-reference.com  Saturday, April 5, 2014

Melky does not have black ink for his .346 BA in 2012.
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Not only was Bernie not included in the Core Four stuff, Bernie was not even mentioned.  I did not hear any of the four, including Yankee captain Derek Jeter, refer to their center fielder on the first four of those five championship teams.

Williams and Cabrera are in rare company as championship Yankee center fielders:

Whitey Witt (Ladislaw Waldemar Wittkowski) 1923
Earl Combs 1927, 1928, 1932
Joe DiMaggio 1936*, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1951
Mickey Mantle 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962
Mickey Rivers 1977, 1978
Bernie Williams 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000
Melky Cabrera 2009

Ben Chapman June 14, 1936: Traded by the New York Yankees to the Washington Senators for Jake Powell.  By August DiMaggio had moved from left to center.

Although I'm glad that Posada is finally getting the attention and recognition that he deserves, the starting catcher on the 1996 team was current Yankee manager Joe Girardi; Posada played only 8 games.  Posada played 111 and 112 games in 1998 and 1999.

One final point, a bit off topic: the deification of an active player.  In this case: Derek Jeter.  On opening day Jeter dogged it on a double off the left field wall.  He was almost thrown out at second because he acted like he thought that he had hit a home run and went into his victory lap.  After the game Jeter jokingly alluded to it.  When asked by writer Joe Madden whether anyone had gotten on Jeter about it, manager Girardi assured the media with a smile that several people had said something to Jeter.

What the heck is that?  Even the question to Girardi was tempered.  Certainly this was an exception, not part of a pattern like that of recently departed Robinson Cano.  But Jeter needs to be treated like the others.  If Girardi had reprimanded Jeter that would have sent a message.  NBA San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich does not hesitate to reprimand his veteran star Tim Duncan.  I know that the sports are different but this was a big mistake by Girardi ... and by Jeter.

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