By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — It goes without saying that the public reaction to the Yankees’ current downward spiral is nothing more than an overreaction. Eventually they’ll start hitting again. Sooner or later they’ll start fielding again. It’s a pretty safe bet they’ll tinker with their starting rotation to get it where it needs to be.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t take advantage of their current sad state of affairs and offer some levity, perhaps poke a little fun at them for forgetting who they are supposed to be. I think the window for me to carry on as an adolescent is closing, for the Yankees, as I said earlier, will repair the holes in their hull and put up a top secret, industrial strength sail so they can make up for lost time and get back to leading this long and arduous race toward the postseason.
What better way to do this than to turn to the movies. I, like so many others, am a cinema buff. Getting lost in fictitious characters is really a great way to remind myself that I have character and more often than not watching a good comedy gets my juices flowing creatively.
Now, I’m just going to get this out there, if you are looking for me to draw some comparison to “Pride of the Yankees” you’ve got the wrong guy. There’s been nothing prideful about the Yankees’ play over the last 13 games.
I was thinking more along the lines of the baseball-themed movies that have stuck with us because they have featured a rag-tag group of forgotten souls who, through circumstance, mere ineptitude or outside influences, found a way to overcome their own shortcomings and make something of themselves.
Through 39 games the Yankees have been nothing but pure comedy. And if I was to cast an epic for the big screen, I would draw my inspiration from three classic baseball movies. I won’t name them here, but you should have no problem identifying them pretty quickly. I’d fill the film with current Yankees who draw a striking similarity on the field to the fictional players who have warmed our hearts and forced us to wear out our VHS tapes and DVDs over the last 30-plus years.
So without further adieu, I give you the cast of “The Bronx Bombers: Please Turn On The Season.” Forget the positions our actors will be forced to play. It’s immaterial for the purposes of entertainment.
As Willie Mays Hayes: Brett Gardner. Sure, Brett may run like Mays but he hits like, well, you know. With his speed he should be putting the ball on the ground and legging them out. From now on, every time I see him hit the ball in the air he will owe the Yankees fans 20 push-ups. We’ll deal with his desire to sacrifice a live chicken before a one-game playoff if and when the Yankees get to a one-game playoff.
As Jake Taylor: Derek Jeter. It’s obvious Jeter can no longer cut it in the Mexican League so he’s here for a few more years at much more than the league minimum. It’s a testament to how good he used to be, for this is New York after all — the place where you are constantly rewarded for what you once were. I can just see Derek now, preparing for life after baseball with his lovely bride to be, spending countless hours in the New York Public Library looking for the whale section so he can read the Cliff’s Notes version of Moby Dick.
As “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughn: Joba Chamberlain. Somebody better teach this guy some control before he kills somebody. On top of that, maybe he can also be taught how to get beaten on his best pitch instead of his second or third best pitch. It seems like every time Chamberlain comes into a game he faces Clue Haywood and a ball is hit that hasn’t landed yet. Maybe we’ll let him pick out some glasses that are a little more him after the next game. It’s that or back to the California Penal League he should go.
As Eddie Harris: Freddy Garcia. The Yankees’ fifth starter doesn’t have an arm like CC Sabathia’s so he has to put anything on the ball he can find. Crisco, Bardahl, Vagisil, you name it, Freddy has probably contemplated using it. If nothing else, Garcia can wax poetic about how all of his teammates should turn to Jesus Christ as their personal savior, when they are not stealing Jobu’s rum, which is, as we all know, very bad.
As Ebby Calvin “Nuke” Laloosh: A.J. Burnett. Who better to play the gifted but unpredictable right-hander than the man who has been nothing but gifted and unpredictable for going on three years now? I like Burnett for this role because he is one of the few supposedly straight-laced Yankees that I can envision wearing garters under his uniform pants and breathing out alternating eyelids while out on the mound — sort of like the lava lizards on the Galapagos Islands.
As Crash Davis: Jorge Posada. Another no-brainer, but mostly because he’d have to mentor Burnett, which went so well the first time it stands to reason the sequel on film would be that much more memorable. Posada fits the Davis role perfectly because they are both at the end of their careers and didn’t take too kindly to being demoted. My guess is Posada will eventually hit his dinger and hang ’em up. Of course after he’s chastised “Meat” Burnett about his million-dollar arm and 5-cent head, and helped him with the nuances of boring baseball cliches in his interviews.
As Rudi Stein: Nick Swisher. Yeah, I know, the personalities don’t seem to mesh here, but Swisher, like Stein, once pulled double duty, pitching in a blowout in addition to picking daisies in the outfield. The question remains: will Swisher take one for the team during a rally or will he swing away only to ground meekly to the pitcher? Since Swisher’s been so adept at hitting the ball where they are this season, I’d say it’s a safe bet he chooses to take his cuts and let the chip fall where they may.
As Roger Dorn: Alex Rodriguez. Sometime in the not-so-distant future A-Rod will retire only to activate himself during a pennant push. He has so much money due to his great investment guy he’ll eventually own or run the Yankees. But A-Rod has a problem with the spotlight. He craves it but has no clue how to handle it once he’s in it, so having him play Dorn seems apropos. I’m just waiting for the day A-Rod storms onto the field with his contract in hand to complain about some extra calisthenics he’s been ordered to do.
As Pedro Cerrano: Mark Teixeira. I can just see Teixeira now, sitting by his locker talking to a throng of reporters about why he’s abandoned his patience at the plate and is swinging at every first pitch he sees: “Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.” When asked to expand on that colorful answer or to perhaps touch on whether he prays for guidance at the plate, Teixeira says with a smile, “Ah, Jesus, I like him very much, but he no help with curveball.”
As Kelly Leak: Curtis Granderson. This is another obvious choice because Granderson is right now the best player on the Yankees — by a lot. It’s just a matter of time before he’s instructed to catch literally every ball hit into the outfield and to swing for the downs when he’s being intentionally walked. I’m working on getting him a dirt bike so he can tear up the Yankee Stadium infield during batting practice in much the same manner that he’s demolished American League pitching to this point.
As Morris Buttermaker: Joe Girardi. I always envisioned Girardi running his own business during the offseason, but since it’s nowhere near time for a pool-cleaning service, let’s assume he’s got a landscaping gig. I kicked around the idea of casting Girardi as Lou Brown, but this is no baseball lifer who’s been selling white walls at Tire World or managing the Toledo Mud Hens for the last 30 years. He’s a cerebral guy who’s this close to packing the coolers in the Yankee dugout with Budweisers. In fact, I think the next time the Yankees actually win a game he’ll be handing out brews to the bat boys in celebration.
Now, obviously, I have left out a bunch of current players, but the truth is that’s because they have yet to really distinguish themselves enough for roles in this epic production. So, guys like Bartolo Colon, Russell Martin, David Robertson, Andruw Jones, Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano and Eric Chavez still have plenty of time to fight for the coveted roles of Timmy Lupus, Engelberg, Tanner Boyle and Ogilvie.
So what about Sabathia, Mariano Rivera and Robinson Cano you may be wondering? Well, it turns out they were part of the purge when Rachel Phelps, the ex-showgirl wife of Donald Phelps, took over the team. She did what she warned Charlie Donovan and the rest of the front office she’d do. She traded away her best players or let them walk in free agency so that she could put together a team bad enough that could relocate to Miami.
Hey Yankees, it’s time to peel a section.
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