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The Yankees need to start backing their talk up

The Yankees certainly talk the talk, but they really need to start walking the walk.

MLB: New York Yankees at New York Mets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Before I start this article, I want to clarify something that some people might misinterpret based on what follows: I am not, in fact, an old man yelling at a cloud. Give me all the showboating, trash-talking, and tearing up of the unwritten rules you can fit in a season, because the emotion is my favorite part of baseball. Okay, glad that’s cleared up.

The Yankees really need to start backing up their big talk. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like this Yankees core always finds a way to lose in spectacular fashion when they try to troll their opponents. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love when the team shows some personality, but these losses keep piling up and it’s becoming increasingly frustrating to watch.

Here are some of the losses of this variety that stick out to me:

October 2018: Oh, New York (New York)

My memory is admittedly not great, but the earliest instance of an A+ trolling job coming back to blow up in the team’s face was, of course, in the 2018 ALDS. After winning Game 2 against the Red Sox to tie the series, Aaron Judge was spotted blasting Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” as he left Fenway Park.

The Red Sox promptly responded by bludgeoning the Yankees in the Bronx back in Game 3, 16-1, before closing out the series the next day and blasting “New York, New York” in the visitor’s clubhouse as they sent the Yankees packing. Although the Yankees have the head-to-head advantage since that series, this one still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth because it was the playoffs, that Boston team went on to win the World Series, and because, well, it’s the Red Sox.

October 2020: It just had to be Brosseau, didn’t it?

The Yankees and the Rays have a well-documented history of, for some reason, throwing at each other, despite the fact that intentionally throwing at hitters is not only stupid but also very dangerous for everyone involved. Earlier in the season, the Yankees and Rays exchanged a few blows that boiled over in September of 2020 when Aroldis Chapman uncorked a 101-mph fastball that just barely missed Mike Brosseau’s head. Intentional or not — I don’t believe Chapman at all, for the record — that is a potentially career-ending move. It’s just dumb. Then, naturally, the verbal sparring between the teams followed.

In the end, as is tradition with this team, Brosseau got the last laugh. In Game 5 of the ALDS, Brosseau stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning with the game tied at one to face Chapman. After a truly remarkable at-bat, Brosseau got just enough of Chapman’s fastball to clear the left-field wall, simultaneously driving the nail in the Yankees’ proverbial coffin and breaking the hearts of Yankees fans around the world. The Rays would go on to play in the World Series while the Yankees had to answer questions about yet another early-round playoff exit.

July 2021: Stop trolling Jose Altuve, please

Don’t worry, I’m not about to defend Jose Altuve. Boo him all you want. I think he sucks (even though he’s a very good baseball player) just as much as you all do. But please stop poking him, okay? He doesn’t need any more reasons to crush our souls.

On July 10th, Judge once again unleashed a monster troll job, and this time the Houston Astros were the recipient. After absolutely demolishing a baseball in the top of the third inning, Judge — who probably has more reasons than anyone to be mad at Altuve — mimicked closing his jersey as he was rounding third base. Asked about his actions after the game, Judge insisted it had nothing to do with Buzzergate. Rather, he said it gets chilly when they close the dome. Yeah, right.

As funny — and weirdly cathartic — as that moment was, Altuve would have his revenge. In the last game before the All-Star break, the Yankees entered the ninth inning leading 7-2. Chad Green ended up imploding and, just 11 pitches later, Altuve hit a three-run, walk-off home run to cap a six-run ninth. To be entirely honest, I still haven’t recovered from that meltdown (and it seems neither has Green). Naturally, the Astros ripped Altuve’s jersey off as he crossed home plate.

September 2021: I had a bad feeling about this one

Boy, was this one ever a doozy. Here’s a quick recap. First, Francisco Lindor probably unnecessarily shouted at the Yankees’ dugout while rounding the bases after his second home run of the game. (Reminder: noticing a pitcher is tipping his pitches isn’t the same thing as stealing signs.) Then, Giancarlo Stanton launched a ball into orbit to tie the game in the seventh and stopped to have a little chat with Lindor during his trot.

After that, the benches cleared and there was the usual standing around and not a whole lot of anything actually happening. And then, because this is the Yankees we’re talking about, Lindor gave the lead to the Mets for good and made the Yankees’ playoff aspirations that much more difficult to realize in the bottom of the eighth after hitting his third home run of the game.

So, again, I return to my central question: why can’t the Yankees back their talk up? It is growing increasingly frustrating to see this team lose games after puffing their chests and trolling other teams. In fact, it’s getting to the point that, when antics like Sunday night’s happen, it feels inevitable that the other team is going to come back and win in excruciating fashion.

This is not to say that the Yankees doing this is a bad thing. By all means, please do it more; it’s fun to watch and it injects some personality into a team that has otherwise looked almost entirely lifeless this year. (Except the whole throwing fastballs at people thing. Don’t do that anymore, it’s dumb.) But please, for the love of all that is holy, start backing the talk up. The victories will make it all so much sweeter.