January is usually a slow month for baseball news. So we’ve lined up a series of guest bloggers to entertain you. Next up is Steve from Was Watching.
Steve has been an online baseball analyst since 1997. He has been blogging about the New York Yankees, since April 2005, at WasWatching.com. Steveâ€™s goal is to someday find a bag full of money that will allow him to retire and pursue baseball related matters on a full-time basis.
Here is his post:
Nineteen seventy three was a significant season in Yankees history. It was the year that Big Stein took charge. It was the last year of the â€œoldâ€ Stadium. Itâ€™s when Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich traded families. It was the first year of the designated hitter â€“ and Yankee Ron Blomberg was the first to do it. And, I went to my first game, ever, at Yankee Stadium.
That first trip was a contest between the Yankees and the Texas Rangers. Peterson started for the Yanks, threw one pitch, and re-aggravated an injury to his thigh covering first. Fred Beene came on in relief and threw a complete game. Bobby Murcer, Thurman Munson, Felipe Alou and Stick Michael had hits in the bottom of the ninth to score two runs and give New York a 3-2 comeback victory.
From there, I grew up listening to Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, and Frank Messer covering great Yankees teams built by Gabe Paul and cared for by Cedric Tallis and Stick Michael. It was a good time to be a Yankees fan.
However, things changed during the 1980â€™s. Then, Yankees games were being covered by broadcasters such as Fran Healy, Spencer Ross, Ken Harrelson, and Jay Johnstone. This was the beginning of where it seemed like almost anyone was granted the privilege to work in the Yanksâ€™ broadcast booth. (And, through these opened doors later waltzed the likes of Michael Kay, Paul Olden, Suzyn Waldman, David Justice, and Kimberly Jones.) During this period, Bill Bergesch, Murray Cook, Bob Quinn and Harding Peterson, at times, were in charge of manning the Yankeesâ€™ ship â€“ and failing at the task. Sure, there was a brief period in the â€˜80â€™s where Clyde King was in charge â€“ and things went well. But, on the whole, the 1980â€™s were a downhill slide for the Yanks â€“ and not a great time to be a Yankees fan.
It hit rock bottom from 1989 to 1992. This four-year period has a strong claim towards being the worse run in the Yankeesâ€™ timeline â€“ in terms of the teamâ€™s relative and collective shortcomings. But, also, during this time, along came Howie Spira, Fay Vincentâ€™s slap on Big Stein, and the installation of Stick Micheal as Yankees GM.
It wasnâ€™t too long before happy times returned in Yankeeland. Between the Stick and Bob Watson (who succeeded Michael in 1996), a powerhouse entity was built in the Bronx â€“ with a cadre of players that also later benefited Brian Cashman when he took over for Watson in 1998. And, for a kicker, during this time, Jim Kaat and Ken Singleton were added to the Yankees broadcast crew â€“ providing quality coverage of the team.
Alas, after 2001, the force that Michael and Watson created was nearly tapped out and a new pocket in Yankees history began to form. The Randy Levine, Brian Cashman, and Jean Afterman-run Yankees, from 2002-07, sure look marvelous in terms of their win totals and revenue. But, if not for Boston collapses in the 2003 ALCS and the regular seasons of 2005 and 2006, this five-year period would not look as pretty for New York as it does on the average fanâ€™s ledger.
During the 1980â€™s, the Yankees won the most regular season games in baseball â€“ but, no rings. If our present decade ended today, you could say the same thing about Cashmanâ€™s 21st century Yankees. Could it be that weâ€™re in another period where itâ€™s not so great to be a Yankees fan – and people just donâ€™t realize it yet? Or, will the Brothers Stein now taking over for Cashman change the direction of the team? Time will tell.