I love the Yankees. I love the history. I love the players. I love the dynamic personalities, the epic plays, the countless championships. I also am one known to preach loyalty. It makes me sad when I see an old player stagger his way into retirement. Sometimes it's ugly. Sometimes, he holds on a little too long.
But what I simply cannot stand for is when a beloved character is tossed aside in favor of the 32 year old flavor of the week. It is almost unforgivable. Now, compound that with the fact that this 'idiot' is from the other side of the fence. Unproven, generally hated, Johnny Damon is waltzing in and taking Bernie's job from him. It makes me sick. Bernie gave us fifteen years, four world series, he is the best postseason hitter in history. And without a second thought, hereeeeeeee's Johnny, prancing around like he owns the place. And the worst part is, the most gut-wrenching part is - Bernie is too much of a gentleman to say something. He's too nice of a guy to go to the media and make a stir, and that's why everyone loved him. And it's the very reason for his downfall. Now look inside yourself, as a Yankee fan, and try to convince yourself that this is the right thing. That because Damon gives us a better chance to win, he should play. That that's how the business works, cutthroat maybe, but hey. Try it. Bernie gave us everything, and what does he get in return? A seat on the bench while some red sock plays Bernie's position, traverses Bernie's field. Despicable. Is this really where the Yankee organization is going? Do we have no respect for our history? Are we really driven so blindly by the need to win that we can't give an old player his last curtain call? He might lose a few in the sun, he might not be as productive, but don't you think that he has earned the right to play the game he loves for one more year? Apparently not. I can almost see a movie script. Bernie, loved by all, getting replaced by some low-rent more talented/less heart bigshot who doesn't have the rest of the team behind him. And oh how I wish Damon will fail accordingly. Fall right on his face. Maybe then, only then, Cashman and Steinbrenner will learn a thing or two about sticking with their guns and not selling themselves, Bernie, and the fans short. Because that's exactly what they're doing. And as hard as I try to laugh off and sometimes even accept the fact that the organization is devoid of compassion, of a sense of loyalty to its players, this is almost too much. It makes me question yet again, as has become cliched these days. What are we playing for? George is playing to win. Some are playing for the money. And Bernie...? Well Bernie's not playing at all. But if he was, he'd be doing it for his love of the city and for the fans. I think it's wrong that he and us are being deprived of that. It would be sad seeing him struggle at times. Because he was once so great. But we owe it to him. We, as a city owe it to him. Because he was better to us than that. Maybe I'm a little too old school when it comes to these matters. Maybe bringing in Damon and suring up our outfield really was the best FA signing of the off season, as some speculate. Maybe Bernie has had his time in the limelight, and maybe he doesn't deserve a gracious exit. I happen to think he does. Evidently, not everyone agrees with me.
I think it would be wrong to let him fade into the background without any sort of goodbye. I think that there are still those who love him for more than what talent he brought to the game but for what he stood for. And that was dedication. And hard work. And loyalty. What they refuse to give back to him. What we can give him is a standing ovation. And the knowledge that although he may not be playing, he still is and forever will be in the hearts of Yankee fans. And that no hippie with a bat can ever replace him.
It's been real