Monday, June 27, 2011

Nothing Like the Yankees' Old Timers' Day

Hyperbole follows the New York Yankees whereever they go and as such, many things about the team are overblown and overstated. But Old Timers' Day is not one of them. Like it or not, the history of the Yankees is richer than most teams simply because of those 27 titles. And because the Yankees have played over the years in the number one media capital of the world, their players have the highest name recognition too.

There is nothing like Old Timers' Day in Yankee Stadium. Through the years, the spectacle has featured long-time greats like Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. And even now, the team can trot out Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, and Don Larson of World Series perfect game fame. And with several generations of champions, the team can showcase the older stars already mentioned, stars from their 1970s champions and starting yesterday, even a few of the guys from the team's most recent titles like Joe Girardi and Tino Martinez.

No matter how much you may hate the team from the Bronx, they are the center of the baseball universe and their place in that firmament is cemented with this yearly spectacle that ties their past with their present. There is probably no team that instills its current players with the pride of the past more than the Yankees. There is this passing of the torch kind of thing that confirms to today's Yankees that they are the continuence of a long line of champions. Sure, other teams have Old Timers' Days, but they are not the same. The inner purpose is not the same.

In those other events, teams simply celebrate past players. This is as much for the fans as it is for anything else. The Yankees' version is deeper. Yes, it's for the fans. But again, it's also the passing of the torch aspect of years of titles. Plus, it sends a message to other teams that you are fighting history if you fight the Yankees.

Perhaps this writer is overstating things. In many ways, only the Yankees' bluster is bigger than their reality. Writers have a way of buying into that bluster and blowing things up larger than they are. But that doesn't seem to be the case in the Yankees' version of Old Timers' Day. This is the real deal. This is a true celebration. And it's a message that is louder than anything bluster can serve up to the rest of the league and to the media.

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