BALTIMORE — You can hop on the Acela, make your way a couple hours south of the Citi Field funny farm, and still the zaniness doesn’t stop. Bored with a lack of Mets news? As the old joke about the weather in San Francisco goes: just wait a couple of minutes.
So in the space of a half hour and a couple of dozen taps on the Twitter refresh button, you can learn that the Mets’ outfield, which a few minutes ago seemed more crowded than the 4 train at rush hour, has suddenly populated by Juan Lagares, who once won a Gold Glove; by Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis, who once were infielders, and by Rajai Davis and Carlos Gomez, who once — like, five years ago or so — were useful major league players.
Edwin Diaz — about whom Mickey Callaway once (as in, like, Wednesday) would never, ever, ever, ever be asked to get more than three outs will now be asked to get as many as four (beginning as soon as possible) because, where Callaway once said, “We’ll save that kind of use for the playoffs” he now says, “We’re gonna approach this like it’s the playoffs.”
So you find yourself making a road trip to Baltimore — where the Yankees beat the lowly Orioles, 7-5 — so you can escape the minute-by-minute adventures of New York’s National League team, so you can partake in the blissful quiet of the city’s American League team, and even as you type that it makes you laugh a little.
Because there was a time when the notion of seeking asylum with the Yankees would sound so crazy that you’d probably be directed … well, to an asylum.
And we aren’t talking about the ancient-history Yankees, either, where Reggie and Billy and George were perpetually engaged in a hate triangle, where Graig Nettles once mused, “Some kids want to grow up to be ballplayers and some want to join the circus; I get to do both,” where Goose Gossage once spend a few minutes calling George Steinbrenner “the Fat Man” while making liberal use of all the words George Carlin said you couldn’t use on TV.
(And this is my all-time favorite from THOSE years: when Reggie Jackson famously called himself the “straw that stirs the drink” and said that Thurman Munson “could only stir it bad,” among other barbs aimed at the Yankees’ catcher and captain, Munson’s backup, Fran Healy, took it upon himself to play peace emissary, told Munson, “Maybe he was quoted out of context.” To which Munson stared at Healy incredulously before saying, “For four bleepin’ pages?”)
No. We’re talking about a time as recently as 2016, when Alex Rodriguez was a daily source of amusement and bemusement, an hourly font of disenchantment and disgrace. We’re talking about the old tugs of war between the various factions of the Yankees hierarchy which, several times, nearly chased the team’s architect Brian Cashman, either by pushing or by jumping.
Heck, it was only 2017 when the Yankees made a surprise trip to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, the World Series so close you could smell the champagne, and they decided to make a change in the manager’s office despite Joe Girardi doing nothing but winning for nine years.
It was around the Yankees that all the drama used to swirl, when it was so easy to get caught in the vortex.
Well, what passes for intrigue is the news that Giancarlo Stanton, out since the season’s first week with a variety of ails and ills, will miss some more time because of a strained calf. On most teams, losing a nine-figure All-Star would be a source of some consternation. Heck, all it took for the Mets was to lose Michael Conforto for a few days and it seemed like the whole team couldn’t buy a hit with a blank checkbook.
But these are the Yankees — specifically, these are the Butch-and-Sundance, “Who ARE those guys?” Yankees — and so if you gave 99 percent of the fan base truth serum and asked how they felt about Stanton staying on the shelf for a while longer the answer would be, “Hey, let’s see some more of Clint Frazier!”
Heady times, indeed. Heady and happy, with wins coming in bunches. Good times. Quiet times. It’s always pretty darned good to be a Yankee. Some times are better than others.
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