The World Series just ended, and once again the New York Yankees are not world champions. Many fans are sad, and some are totally frustrated at having not experienced the feeling of winning it all since 2009, which now seems like eons ago, even to me.
The first time I saw a Yankee World Series game was on a small black and white television with my father and grandfather in October of 1964. The Yanks were destined to lose to the Cards in seven, and after that penultimate contest they quickly became bottom feeders in the then ten team AL as seemingly all their stars got old during one winter. It was not until the early 1970s that they were somewhat competitive again, and their next series appearance was not until 1976. The span was a total of fifteen years between winning the whole thing ('62 and '77), so for comparison's sake, today's fans have just finished their thirteenth campaign without a championship.
Asking my old man to take me to a Yankee game became a two year thing as he did not want to drive to the Bronx from Rockaway Beach on a weekend. He commuted to Manhattan every day for work during the week, so who could blame him? When he finally relented in 1967, it was the Twins of Carew, Oliva, and Killebrew in the house, and that was also the day that I learned what a hangover was, as a fan near us said that the Mick wasn't playing because he had a little too much fun after the Friday night game.
Yankee Stadium seemed large and obviously an antique even to my young eyes, with elements like the frieze, and the exaggerated dimensions and shapes of the outfield barriers which contained three stone monuments on the field of play. Little did I know that it would be totally overhauled in a few years, remaking it into a modern and profitable building, and in the process it would lose all of the features that made it unique. The only advantage of the renovation to me would be the two seasons of easier commutes for south shore fans, as we could attend home games at Shea.
Somehow, I think the pressure of competing with the other major sports has made the stewards of the game a little neurotic. First, they stuck it to pitchers by lowering the mound after 1968, and then in 1969 they broke the leagues into east and west divisions to introduce tournament play. Four teams then has now grown to twelve, and who knows, we may add more down the road. The AL added the DH for offense, and now the NL has finally incorporated it as well. Lastly, the owners looked away from juicing players until they could not, and now the exaggerated shift will go away and the pitch clock will arrive with oversized bases, oh boy!
I'm afraid this constant meddling to improve the product will never fully succeed because baseball will never be football, and unless the league introduces something like the ability to tackle the runner before he scores, there will not be enough action for those seeking it. I don't know about you, but I'm still fine with a 3-2 game in an old ball yard where the starting pitcher is oh for two with a SAC bunt on his hitting line. Who cares, it's baseball!