The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pinch hitting: Christian Toto

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 25, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Today’s Pinch Hitter is Christian Toto, an award-winning journalist, film critic and radio commentator who blogs about fatherhood issues at Daddylibrium.com. Christian grew up on Long Island and remembers exactly where he watched Bucky Dent go deep in 1978. His favorite Yankees: Bobby Murcer and Hideki Matsui.

As for his blog topic: Can you picture the Bronx Zoo being presented through a filtered image on Instagram?

Reggie JacksonImagine the Tweets Reggie Jackson would have fired off during the heat of a Yankees pennant drive. The “Straw that Stirred the Drink” wore pinstripes in the 1970s, long before social media became part of the culture.

The Bronx Zoo-era Yankees might have crumbled had Jackson and Co. been allowed 140 characters with which to pound their chests, taunt sports reporters or mock their AL East opponents.

As it was, Jackson, Thurman Munson, Billy Martin and the rest of the late ‘70s Yankees kept the tabloids humming without WiFi in the clubhouse. You could never be sure if Martin would be managing the club on any given day based on the previous night’s activities. Jackson might deliver a game-winning home run one day and then bemoan his image to a throng of salivating sports scribes the next. Heck, those two famously brawled one dark day in 1977, a fight that epitomized the combustible nature of the soon-to-be World Champions.

It’s a far cry from the current Yankees squad, players who flex their Twitter might to promote their charitable work and praise fellow teammates. That sense of decorum can be traced back to the dawn of the Joe Torre era. Fans applaud Torre for bringing the World Series back, in duplicate, to the Bronx. The former manager did more than fill in the lineup card properly for 162 games at a clip. He, along with professionals like a young Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, restored a sense of honor and purpose to the franchise.

No longer did the Yankees stand for off-the-field shenanigans. Now, the goal was to make the playoffs and earn a parade in the Canyon of Heroes each and every season. Anything that prevented that from happening was an unwanted distraction.

These days, the Yankees’ managerial position isn’t up for grabs on a seasonal basis. Rookies don’t ride the Columbus Shuttle after a ghastly error. Even the current Alex Rodriguez imbroglio, as ugly as anything found in Sparky Lyle’s infamous “The Bronx Zoo” memoir, can’t suspend the sense of purpose found in the modern Bronx Bombers.

No, that drive hasn’t delivered a World Series championship for a few years, and even the free agent signing spree that delivered Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury can’t promise a new dynasty will arise this spring. Still, Yankees fans can hold their head high these days even if baseball snobs still sniff at the thought of the Steinbrenner family “buying” another pennant. New Yorkers know the days of being both enamored with, and embarrassed by, the Bronx Bombers are history.

Associated Press photo

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