First, let me start with this: I wasn’t at the game last night, which means I missed a wonderful gesture by MLB and the Yankees in having Polly Tompkins, a lifelong fan who is battling cancer, serve as honorary bat girl. The YES Network’s Kim Jones has a terrific post about Polly and the Yankees up on her blog. As mentioned in TJN’s notebook by Ernie Palladino today, Nick Swisher – who hit a home run last night – said he was inspired by Polly.
Those of you who remember my walk between both New York stadiums last year know that I’m a big advocate for cancer research, so if you want to donate to Susan G. Komen For the Cure or the American Cancer Society, click the links.
Now, on to baseball. With National Waiter/Waitress Day as our holiday du jour, I thought it might be a good time to talk about the concept of service and the Yankees. No, I don’t mean those little paddles Stadium employees all hold now that ask “how can I help you?” – though they’re a nice touch – but rather the larger philosophical debate that seems to rise up often among Yankees fans that their team doesn’t do enough of the “little things” to win games.
Think about it: The best waiters and waitresses are the ones who do the little things for you. Extra napkins. An always-full water glass. A bread basket that’s hot from the oven. The closest I’ve ever come to being a waiter is the one afternoon I spent helping out a family friend who ran a catering business, and just passing appetizers on a hot afternoon made me realize what a tough job it is; the ones who do it well are the ones who are always there, always sacrificing themselves to make the customer happy. It’s certainly not for everyone.
In terms of the Yankees, I get e-mails from readers all the time screaming about how the Yankees need to do more of that. More sacrificing, more “moving the runner”, etc. Teams like the Angels do it, the readers say, and that’s what winning teams do.
I’m not so sure though. As stated several times in the past, I’m hardly a stats guy but I do understand (and agree with) the sentiment that giving up outs is generally a bad thing. You only get so many in a game, so it’s rarely a good idea to willingly give one away. When I see Derek Jeter squaring to bunt, 99.9 % of the time I’m sure it’s a bad play.
What do you guys think? Would you like to see the Yankees do more of that style play? You’re already seeing more of it this season, as Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner have three sacrifices apiece and the Yankees as a team have 13 – fifth-highest in the AL. The teams ahead of them include the Angels (no surprise), who – like the Yankees – have spent most of the early part of the season missing their top power hitter (Vlad Guerrero).
One thing I did notice is that it’s pretty clear you don’t need to play that kind of ball to win. The team that’s dead-last among AL teams in sacrifices? Boston. They’ve got zero.
Let’s hear your thoughts. And, since it’s a holiday, let’s hear some good waiter/waitress stories, please. I know everyone has at least one or two (bonus points if you actually work as one and can give us something funny from the inside).
Great job on the mailbag response so far. I’ll probably post it tomorrow, so feel free to keep the questions coming in to firstname.lastname@example.org.