February 27, 2006
Bernie: 2004-05 Yanks Character Lacking
From the LA Times:
Williams has seen them all, and they gather in his head like the patches of gray in his beard, the image of other men celebrating the annual elimination of the Yankees. They were Diamondbacks, Marlins, Angels, even Red Sox.
The cause, he implied, was too fluid to cover with money, too devious to repair in batting practice: The Yankees came to believe championships came with the uniform.
"I'm going to be completely honest with you," he said on a recent dank morning at Legends Field. "I think that this year marks the beginning of a slightly different attitude about this club. We were on somewhat of a downfall as far as playing with a killer instinct."
After their appearance in the 2003 World Series, won by the Marlins, the team character shifted, Williams said. It was subtle, so much so as to be unrecognizable in the moment. It all looked like a couple of fat sliders, a fluke four-game losing streak, a sore shoulder or two. But two more seasons and then a winter spent considering his future with the Yankees — and in baseball — brought him somewhat closer to the truth, as he saw it.
"The team was sort of taking for granted we were going to be there every year," he said.
Told Williams had these doubts about the last couple of seasons, in particular, Derek Jeter turned and said, "Who said that?"
Torre said he likes what's happening here, the reshaping of the Yankees, the enthusiasm brought by two new coaches, Larry Bowa and Tony Pena. ("Just offsets my stoic demeanor," he said, laughing.) They bring different voices, different energy, something fresh.
He wouldn't disagree with Williams' observation, he said, calling it an entirely human reaction to sustained achievement.
Thanks Bernie. It's good to hear this being said.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at February 27, 2006 11:58 AM
Joel Sherman of the Post ran a similar story yesterday about the subtle shift in attitude and demeanor around the team this year.
As fans, we can put as much or as little stock in it as we want to but as far as the players are concerned, all that matters sometimes is buying into the "us vs. them" mentality and getting that little bit of arrogance and swagger back. If Bernie feels it coming back then who are we to doubt? Let's just sit back and hope that the 2006 Yanks get super-F*CKING-pissed about the last few years of missed opportunities and come out beating skulls in the AL.
As fans, we can put as much or as little stock in it as we want to but as far as the players are concerned, all that matters sometimes is buying into the "us vs. them" mentality and getting that little bit of arrogance and swagger back.
You don't need an "us vs. them" mentality, you don't need to be a red-ass, you just need to play ball, and play it well. Arrogance and swagger helps, but that isn't the reason the Yanks haven't won a world series since 2000.
Right - you need to play ball and play it well. And if to do that, you need to have an edge about you, then so be it. I don't think there's anything wrong with an "us vs. them" mentality or any of that other stuff. Whatever (legal) devices will get these guys to play well, that's all they need.
Let's be honest -- this is all bull. If Mo closes out game four of the '04 ALCS, none of this is being written. If Wells' back doesn't go out in the '03 World Series, none of this is being written. If Bubba and Sheff don't collide last year -- or if Johnson isn't so terrible (or maybe if Wright doesn't fall apart in the last game of the year and we lose home field) -- none of this is written. If the Yankees didn't make the playoffs or if they lost 100 games, then fine -- something is up. But they are there every year and have, for the most part, been in a position to win. Things haven't broken their way. And if ever there was a team who DIDN'T think they didn't have to work for the title, it was the '05 Yankees.
I don't agree that "this is all bull." It may sound corny to fans but psychology is a key element to success. I'm not saying it's 100%, 90% or even 10%, but it is an element nonetheless. You're right, if any of those negatives you mentioned had turned into positives, things would be different. But, beacuse those negatives happened, each particpating player's psychology was affected in some way. So, even if it is bull, as long as the Yankees believe in it, as long as the Yankees embrace it, who cares? Whatever it takes to win is all we should care about.
Remember, Michael Jordan, one of the most talented players in the history of basketball, used psychology all the time. For all the bad beats he may have had (there were many, we just don't remember them because he built up such a legacy of success) it was always the mental aspect of his game that remained unbeatable. If Bernie and the boys are saying that they feel differently this year...it's not our place to doubt, only our place to hope they're right.
Remember, Michael Jordan, one of the most talented players in the history of basketball, used psychology all the time.
And it didn't do him a lick of good when he tried to play baseball :)
My point, MJ, is that if Mo gets those outs in game four of the '04 ALCS and the Yankees go on to meet the Cards in the World Series, this theory would be totally disproved. You can't say the Yankees took things for granted when they were consistently in a position to win. The theory is extremely tenuous if it can be shattered with a few outs in the ninth inning of a playoff game.