Remembering the ’96 Yankees

Author’s note: I started writing this during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no basketball and MLB’s spring training was put on hold, so I was feeling nostalgic about sports.

I’ve been thinking a lot about some of my favorite baseball seasons. Number one, without a doubt, is 1996, the first year I was alive to see The New York Yankees win the World Series.

The ‘96 season started as a bit of a drag for me since it was the first season without Don Mattingly, who retired at the end of the previous season. But the bright side was that although the former Yankees captain had retired, the future captain, Derek Jeter, was entering his rookie season. Even before he took the field for the first game of 1996, you knew he was going to be special.

Tino Martinez, who was traded to the Yankees over the winter (then signed a 5-year, $20 million contract), replaced Mattingly. I was stoked about the acquisition as he was always a problem for the New York when he played for Seattle.

So dope.

There were a lot of highlights from that season. Here are a few that stand out for me:

I remember Doc’s no-hitter and remember being so psyched when, the following year, I bought a pack of Upper Deck cards and pulled a Doc Gooden card that showed him celebrating on his teammate’s shoulders.

I remember watching the ‘96 postseason religiously. I only missed a couple of day games due to familial commitments that can hamper a 13-year-old’s television schedule.

I remember buying a t-shirt with the interlocking NY that I planned on wearing during every game in the postseason. I’m not as superstitious as I was as a kid, but I SWEAR TO GOD this is true: There were two occasions I wasn’t able to wear the shirt: One was a social occasion that required more formal dress; the other was when the shirt was being washed and dried during the game. I know this sounds crazy, but they lost both times I didn’t wear the shirt! On the other hand, I also remember wearing the shirt for the first two games of the World Series, which the Yankees lost. Thus, I figured the t-shirt was now cursed and didn’t wear it again. Of course, they won the next four games, so IDK, man!

I remember the “Jeffrey Maier” homerun that Jeter hit against Baltimore and staunchly defending it against anyone who said it should have been an out (even though I knew he reached over the wall). As a more mature adult, I’ve come to accept that yes, Maier did reach over the wall, and it should have been an out. Either way, the Yankees were 10-3 against the Orioles that year, so they obviously were going to win anyway.

Sorry, Tony. Nobody beats the Wiz.

I remember Joe Girardi’s triple in Game 6 of the World Series that gave the Yankees a one-run lead (In the history of baseball, how many triples have catchers hit in the postseason?) I think Girardi had three triples in ’96.

I remember shaking and then spraying a can of Coke when Charlie Hayes caught the foul ball to seal the World Series win (I was wise enough as a 13-year-old to put a towel on the floor to mitigate some of the spilled soda. I didn’t want to get grounded for celebrating a World Series victory). I remember going to CVS (or was it Revco?) early the next morning to pick up a copy of the NY Post, New York Times, and the NY Daily News that had special commemorative editions of the Yankees victory. I kept them until my mother moved out of my childhood home, and I have no idea what happened to them.

It’s amazing that years later, I can still rattle off the entire roster and coaching staff for that particular season. I had the yearbook that was released before the season and read it so much that the pages started to come apart.

Something I actually didn’t remember and was surprised to see when I looked it up was Mariano Duncan’s batting average: .340. What??? Seriously, look at his Baseball-Reference page. Another interesting stat: Despite a .340 average, he only had a .352 OBP, which equates to only nine walks for the entire season.

And finally, although I remember being excited about the ticker-tape parade after their World Series victory, it was kind of a let down;  parades aren’t the same on TV, especially when it’s just people waving.

Top 5 Baseball Movies

Back in December, I committed to the following list of favorite baseball movies on Twitter:

tweet

This list came with a caveat that it changes frequently. But, I wondered if there was a semi-scientific way to determine what the actual order would be, so I decided to rank them based on the following categories: Continue reading “Top 5 Baseball Movies”

A Letter to the Yankees Front Office

To whom it may concern,

I know you’re just starting the off-season, so I won’t waste your time. But, I have a couple of things I’d like to discuss.

First and foremost, please drop your personal appearance policy. I know you’ve heard this complaint for years, but I think now is the time to act. Here is a suggested update:

“All players, coaches and male executives are forbidden allowed to display any facial hair other than mustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar. Long sideburns and ‘mutton chops’ are not specifically banned.

Any policy that contains ‘mutton chops’ is clearly in need of review and updating.

In the spirit of progress, I think this update should be considered. The game is changing and it’s time for your franchise to catch up. Let the players sport a beard, or long hair. In terms of clubhouse culture, it’s an easy change to make and has the ability to improve the overall morale of the team. My company recently changed its dress code to allow employees to wear jeans and it has made a positive impact on the company’s morale and culture.

Remember when Don Mattingly became manager of the Miami Marlins and tried to institute a similar policy, but abandoned it the following year because it was a “pain in the ass” to enforce? And this is a guy who hated your policy as a player. And he tried it anyway. And he hated it. 

This leads to my next point: Please sign Bryce Harper.

I don’t know him personally, but I’m not sure he’s the kind of guy who would be willing to comply with your current appearance policy. If you decide to sign him, I see this playing out two ways:

#1 The appearance policy is dropped or relaxed prior to him signing. This is done either by choice, or request from Harper and his agent, Scott Boras.

#2 You do not change the policy and Harper openly defies it.

Remember in 1985 when NBA commissioner David Stern said Michael Jordan couldn’t wear his Nike Air Jordans? And the NBA fined him $5,000 for every game he wore them? And Nike paid those fines because they were making money hand over fist selling his shoes? You have to think Blind Barber or whichever prospective hair care company that would sponsor Harper would be willing to do the same. It would not only shed more light on your outdated policy (unfortunate for you), but would be a huge marketing boon for whatever company is bold enough to do it.

I know you’re already chock full of outfielders and I’m not into the “Move Bryce to first base” crowd, but I think it would be great for baseball’s most brazen player to go after the most arcane policy on the greatest franchise in professional baseball.

If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to reach out to me.

Sincerely,

Chris Shorts

Nicki Collen, Uber-Coach

If you had to pick a WNBA Coach of the Year today, who would it be? You could make an argument for Dan Hughes, who has taken the Seattle Storm to the top of the WNBA standings, after only making the eight-seed last season. However, I think the most obvious pick is Atlanta Dream’s Nicki Collen. She’s taken Atlanta from the proverbial basement in 2017 to the 2nd best team in the WNBA.

After a 12-22 record last season, The Dream decided to part ways with head coach Michael Cooper. As his replacement, they chose Connecticut Sun assistant coach, Nicki Collen. Hardly a wild card pick, as her move into a head coaching position was long overdue.

Continue reading “Nicki Collen, Uber-Coach”

Sue Bird is Living Her Legacy

If you’ve followed basketball at any point in the last two decades, you’ve probably heard of Sue Bird. Over the course of her career, she’s racked up quite a few accomplishments. She’s a high school champion, NCAA champion, Olympic champion, and WNBA champion.

At 37 years old, Sue Bird doesn’t have anything left to prove. She’s won everywhere she’s been and continues to play at the highest level.

Now in her 15th year as the Seattle Storm’s point guard, she’s currently second in the WNBA in assists and her assist to turnover ratio leads the league for players with more than 60 dimes. But, her success on the court goes beyond her elite passing abilities. Continue reading “Sue Bird is Living Her Legacy”