A few days ago I watched the HBO documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer - a fascinating meditation on the state of freedom of expression and religion in modern Russia. For those not familiar with the story, five girls in sleeveless dresses and balaclavas performed an impromptu punk show in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior to protest the policies of Vladimir Putin. Three of the members were tracked down and sentenced to two years in prison.
Let me tell you something, Russians - as far as performance art goes, watching girls in ski mask-thingies dance in one of your holiest shrines isn't nearly as offensive as watching the Yankees offense these days. Before yesterday's six-run explosion, the Yankees scored two runs in four straight games, including game which lasted 18 innings. The last time they scored in more than two innings of a game was June 3. I could throw some individual stats up there, but why bother?
The phrase "worst offense since the early nineties" has been bandied about a lot recently. According to our own Michael Brown, the 2013 Yankees have achieved a level of offensive impotence not seen since 1990. In terms of a baseball team trying to stay in the playoff hunt, maintaining an early-nineties level of Yankee offense is simply untenable; but as a bizarre piece of retro nineties performance art, this offense works fine. People are nuts for nineties nostalgia right now; seemingly every popular TV show and movie from the period is being remade. The Yankees offense has all the retro nineties charm of this totally rad "Home Improvement" tape measure I found in the basement last week...the only difference being that the tape measure actually still works.
As a full-on remake of the Stump Merrill era, the Yankees offense has done a pretty good (bad) job so far, but with a few subtle tweaks, they could be so much better (worse). I've prepared a list of helpful tips designed to bring the Yankees completely back to the early nineties "golden age", before punks like Derek Jeter and Paul O'Neill started mucking things up.
1. Mustaches and nerd glasses for all!
This is Alvaro Espinoza - perhaps the quintessential early-nineties Yankee. His slash lines for his three years in pinstripes:
Sure, there are three or four middle infielders on the 2013 Yankees roster capable of matching that "production", but they just don't have the same panache. What guys like Nix, Reid Brignac, and David Adams need to do is take each at bat with a creepy mustache and glasses straight from one of the Golden Girls - no Oakleys for these bros. I want to see creepy mustaches on every Yankee, except Joba Chamberlain. Joba already tried the 'stache, and it didn't work...like everything else he's tried this season.
2. Dirty up the Yankee viewing experience.
Ah, the early nineties - a time when you could still experience the old Stadium in all its dank and dirty glory. I loved that place with all my soul. The Steinbrenners tore the old girl down, of course. They said Yankees fans deserved a modern, swanky environment, complete with Mohegan Sun steakhouses or whatever the hell they have back there. Well I say get rid of the swank and bring back the dank! They need to dirty up the place, post-haste.
As for Yankees broadcasts, I say get rid of the high definition feed altogether. There was no HD back in the early nineties. And, when you think about it, is your viewing experience really enhanced by watching Vernon Wells strike out in high def?
An old-school, low-def broadcast probably isn't enough - we need the voice of those old Yankee teams. Ever since the Tupac hologram debuted at Coachella, we have had the technology to bring Phil Rizzuto back to the broadcast booth. If a new generation of fans must suffer through this lineup, they should at least have the Scooter to guide them. His detractors liked to point at that the Scooter often lost track of the game itself, choosing instead to blather on about lasagna for innings at a time. I say, so what if the Scooter hologram only wants to talk about food? It'll be a far cry better than the insufferable food banter coming out of the Michael Kay booth.
4. Two words: Donnie Baseball
This season hasn't been a cakewalk for Don Mattingly, either - his Dodgers are mired in last place in the NL West, his job may be in jeopardy, and he appears to be auditioning for a post-managerial career in MMA. Hopefully this means the Yankees can pry him away from the Dodgers - not to coach, but to play. I say screw it, put Donnie Baseball back on the field. Mark Teixeira is hurt again, and God only knows when he'll be back. I'm betting that 52-year-old Donnie can still hit lefties better than Lyle Overbay. Only one thing, Don, you need to grow back the mustache (see: #1).
5. We need a Stankiewicz...any Stankiewicz
One of the joys of watching those old teams was the fact that they had a guy named Andy Stankiewicz - not much of a player, but his name alone was worth 4.5 joeWAR in my book. I couldn't help but notice the Red Sox just drafted and signed a pitcher named Teddy Stankiewicz (no relation). We need to pry this Stankiewicz away from the Sox...and put him in the lineup immediately. To those of you who think that it would be reckless to put a pitcher into the lineup, I want you to think about Reid Brignac for a moment. His OPS+ is -32. Minus thirty-two. Do you honestly think that a pitcher - or even, say, an accountant - would put up hitting numbers worse than minus thirty-two?
Will any of these moves help the Yankees on the field? Of course not. But unless the Yankees start getting some starters back (and I mean really back - not "this week's Texeira and Youkilis" back) then this is the lineup we're going to have to live with for a while. I say pop in a Boyz II Men cassette into your boombox and enjoy the ride.