The World According to Keitho

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The reign of the evil empire, part 2: The fall of Keitho

Posted by keithosaunders on October 12, 2010

Long Island City, NY. October 23rd, 1996.

I was in my living room watching what appeared to be a routine Braves victory in game four of the World Series — a win that would have given them a 3-1 stranglehold over the New York Yankees with John Smoltz set to pitch game 5. The Braves were leading 6-0 going into the 6th inning and up until this point had they had little trouble containing the Yankees attack. Derek Jeter led off and hit a routine foul pop up which three Braves converged on. Somehow the umpire managed to get between the fielders, inadvertently obstructing the play. Jeter, with new life, singled, sparking a three run rally which brought the Yankees to within three. In the 8th I was still feeling good about the Braves chances when Yankee catcher Jim Leyritz tied the game with a 3 run home run to left. The game was won by the Yankees in the 10th and the Series, not to mention my life, had turned.

Andy Pettitte threw a 1-0 gem in game 5, and after a taut 3-2 win in game 6 the Yankees had their first championship in 18 years. I remember watching the clincher and thinking that I was happy for their fans who had recently suffered through some particularly lean years. It was good for New York, and anyway the Braves fans were obnoxious with that idiotic tomahawk chop.

Yet there was a feeling deep in the pit of my stomach which gnawed at me. The Yankees had won a Series in clutch fashion after being dominated at home during the first two games. Their key position players and pitchers were young or in their prime. What if? Could it happen? No, this was a fluke. Wasn’t it?

It was no fluke. The next year they were beaten by Cleveland in the first round thanks to a blown save by Mariano Rivera, but from that point on, until 2005, Mariano’s post-season ERA would be 0.00. From 2006 until the present his era is…0.00. In this span the Yankees have missed the playoffs once. They have won five Series and seven A.L. Pennants.

The years took on a Groundhogs Day sameness, each one ending with the parade down the canyon of heroes. My misery culminated in 2000, the year of the Subway Series. Up until that time I had rooted against the Yankees as an erstwhile fan of their opposing team. That year I was treated to a first-hand bitch-slapping as my Mets proved to be woefully inadequate. I hoped against hope for a miracle, but after Paul O’Neill’s 14 pitch at-bat off of Armando Benitez and the ensuing comeback, the knife was in — all that remained was the twisting. The next night a bat was hurled at Mike Piazza by a steroidally-enfused mercenary named Roger Clemens. (Thank you sir, may I have another?) The Mets were done and so was I.

Next year was even worse, even though the Yankees failed to four-peat against the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks. In the wake of September 11th, “We’re all Yankee fans now,” became America’s mantra. In the past I had been able to take a small measure of consolation in the fact that I was not alone in rooting against the Yankees. Now I was on an island with John McCain. Every game became an elegy to the bravery of New Yorkers — the Yankees were going to make us all forget about the recent tragedy. There was Giuliani with his shit-eating grin, the Yankee cap, and the fat son. Throw in the fighter planes, the opera singer, the God Bless America, and I was puking through my tears.

I look back at my smug, condescending 1996 self and I laugh. You poor, confused, naive dullard. But then I think that perhaps it was a good thing that there was one Yankee Series in which I did not scream obscenities at the TV, or feel the pre-ulcerous knot of tension in the pit of my stomach.

Since the middle of the 1990’s the Yankees have been a well-oiled, expertly handled organization. This does nothing to temper my hatred. You can call me a pathological, self-pitying, resentful bastard. It’s a moot point, though. Like Popeye, I yam what I yam — my hatred isn’t going anywhere. I have to live with it and accept that most Octobers will be gut wrenching experiences.

I’ll say this. Teams should be allowed to sign whomever they think will help them win, but here’s the thing: The Yankees have a payroll that is 40 million higher than the Redsox and 109 million higher than the team they just beat, the Twins. On top of this they are the favorite to sign ace pitcher Cliff Lee. They play by the rules and they’re a great organization, but don’t rub my face in it and ask me to like it. It’s a little hard to take. 

OK, that’s it. I’m exhausted already. I now invite you all to let me have it. Come on, you know you want to. Just remember the first rule of Fight Club: You do not talk about Fight Club.

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10 Responses to “The reign of the evil empire, part 2: The fall of Keitho”

  1. chappy81 said

    Thanks for checking out our site. I like what you have going on here! First off, I’m not really a Yankees hater per say, but I don’t root for them by any stretch of the imagination. Second, you brought up that D-backs series, and it couldn’t help but make me compare that team to the Giants this year. The D-Backs had a bunch of cast offs that nobody thought was good anyomore and GREAT pitching. The Giants have the same thing going… If they get past the Phillies somehow, I could see them being a cinderella like the D-Backs…

  2. jag101a said

    It’s BenitEZ, but fuck’im.

  3. I remember when Mark Wohlers hung that slider to Leyritz, and I thought, shit, Wohlers is going to get beat on that pitch when he was regularly hitting 99 on the radar gun. Who called the pitch? Why didn’t he just shake it off? Wohlers had 39 saves that season, and had recorded 100 K’s in 77 innings. The Yankees were having trouble getting around on his heat. But after that crummy little slider, it was all downhill for Wohlers. For the Braves, it seemed to crush their spirit in that Series.
    I also remember the stunned look on Piazza’s face when Clemens hurled the chunk of broken bat at him and yelled at Piazza as he trotted down the first base line. We should have known then that Clemens was a ‘roided mental case.
    I, too, hate the Yankees. As a Mets fan, it’s kind of like having an older brother who is always good at everything, and all you are good at is building small models out of glue and popsicle sticks. So it goes.
    Nice post, Bill

    • Bill, I cracked up at that Mets/Yankees comparison — sad but true! You can make the argument that Wohlers falling apart ruined the Braves chances of ever winning another Series in that era. They never did find a decent closer. Who knows, maybe you have pinpointed the exact pitch that was their downfall.

  4. zapple100 said

    There are three things certain in life:
    1. Spiderman will never be as good as Superman.
    2. Star Wars will never be as good as Star Trek
    and
    3. The Mets will never be as good as The Yankees.

  5. Hi again. There were a bunch of mistakes when it came to the Mets, but most all of them center on pitching, or how they lost pitching. Trading Nolan Ryan to get Jim Fregosi. Not protecting Tom Seaver when another team might think to grab him. Thinking Doc Gooden was done. Ditto David Cone. All those guys went on to pitch no-hitters for some other team and Ryan, well, we know he threw more than one. Oh and two of them threw no-nos for the Mets’ crosstown rivals: The New York Yankees!

    How is it the Mets, who have a rather storied history of great pitching, wind up just squandering those arms? Seriously, this is why they are still not in the no-hitter category yet. You want to complain? Look to your front office and figure out who is making the moves that let these highly prized arms go. Figure out how they mismanaged their staffs… Mike Hampton is a name that comes to mind (and what pitcher WANTS to go to Colorado? Why did the Mets let that happen? Couldn’t they have told him, oh, btw, your ERA at altitude is going to balloon, so maybe you better stay right here. It really shortened his career after the physical and mental demands of his experience in Denver).

    The Mets have a lot to be proud of: first expansion team to win the World Series. And they even won a second world series! That’s 50 years of good play, right there. Some teams go a century or more without winning.

    But the Mets don’t have their heads in the game. Unless things are going perfectly for them, they give up, or at least that’s how it looked this year. Every team has to deal with injuries, every team has to deal with adversity. Look at the Red Sox, for heaven’s sake! They lost a bunch of key players during the year and yet were still in the running to make the playoffs until the last week of the season! The Mets need to change everything. Ok, you can keep Wright, maybe Reyes gets to stay after he gets a strict talking to, and its time to straighten out the pitching.

    As for the payroll bellyaching, please, please stop. It’s old, it’s tired and it’s just not true. It’s not about the payroll anyhow… it’s about the PLAYERS. You can throw millions of dollars at guys and not get any results. Just look at YOUR team. The payroll is a reward, not a purchase of greatness. You never really know what a player will do when he comes to your team. So, the payroll argument, oh, we bought this and that? Total BS.

    Most importantly, players want to be on a championship team. So, guess what? They come to a team that knows how to win. It’s how the Mets got it going in the 1980s: Gooden the phenom. Strawberry. They got Carter. They got Keith. And suddenly, they were the best team in baseball. Maybe if you start putting together some success, players will want to be on your team, too. It’s not just the money. It’s the ring.

    • Hey Penpusher,

      Welcome back. I never said the Mets were a good organization. In fact, I think they are piss-poor. The fact that the Yankees, besides having so much more money to spend, are also better on the business side of things, only fuels my resentment. I think I said as much in the post, and if I didn’t I’m saying it now. That said, the Yankees have made plenty of bonehead moves over the years — just that they have the money to cover their mistakes. In this sense they are like sharks – always feeding, always moving. I’m sure you remember Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, and Randy Johnson, just to name a few. It was smart to lock up Mariano, Posada, and Jeter, (and Bernie) all of those years, but let me ask you something.: How many teams can afford to do this *and* sign big name free agents year after year? On top of this, the Met fan has to endure second year manager, Girardi, changing his uniform number every year to coincide with the next pennant? As if this is some great accomplishment?! Give me a break. I’d be more impressed if he had gone to Kansas City and worn uniform #2. Now *that* would have been something special.

      Gooden was a great pitcher for those few years in the mid ’80s and it’s a shame that he got wrapped up in drugs. What were the Mets supposed to do? Stick with him through three more relapses until he finally eeked out a no-hitter? Oh yeah…I forgot. The Yankees did that with Steve Howe, minus the no-no.

      Hampton didn’t want to play in New York. Don’t you remember? The school system wasn’t good enough for his wife and kids, as if they couldn’t have afforded to send them to Fieldson, or whatver those blue-blood schools are called. Hampton showed his true colors after he publicly second guessed Piazza for not charging the mound after the bat-thrower’s tantrum in game 2. Hey Mike… Jeter should have been put on his ass at the next possible opportunity, Series or not. I’m not saying Hampton should have thrown at anyones head like Roidger would have — just put him down.

      I could go on…

      • Granted, geography plays a part. Not every city can support a fan base for two major league teams. New York is certainly one of those, and the fact that there are so many fans here, and more importantly, so many advertisers that want to associate themselves with these teams, is a reason there’s just more money available here. If the teams are doing well, they’re getting national coverage, and even international coverage.

        But keep in mind, with Revenue Sharing, this helps out all teams. The question is what are those other owners doing with their money? Are they lining their pockets or reinvesting in their teams (and their fans)?

        Yes, the Yankees do have a killer instinct. When you come to expect to have a legitimate chance to win your championship, you don’t want to give that up. So you are looking for the way to improve yourself, whether it’s the player in a position you need, an extra arm out of the bullpen, a speedster on the base paths.

        It’s all good.

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