“A baseball team is a traveling germ factory. Twenty-five men living as a unit, sharing workout facilities and equipment, shaking hands with autograph-seeking fans, and pushing their bodies to exhaustion night after night—it's a recipe for illness. When one gets sick, sooner or later, they all do. And right now, the Yankees are sick.”—Daniel Barbarisi, “The Yanks Need Some Chicken Soup,” The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2012
Easily the funniest scene in the Robert Redford baseball movie The Natural (1984) comes when a psychiatrist addresses the slumping New York Knights. “Losing is a disease…as contagious as polio,” he tells them dolefully, with scenes intercut of the hapless squad striking out, dropping easy fly balls, colliding with each other, etc. “Losing is a disease...as contagious as syphilis. Losing is a disease…...as contagious as bubonic plague...attacking one…but affecting all.”
Barbarisi’s article, appearing nearly two weeks ago now, came when the Bronx Bombers were at a physical low ebb, highlighted by the debilitating bronchial infection of Mark Teixeira (in the photo here). (Three years ago, that upraised hand was a mark of triumph; now, it appears more like a warning to stay away from him.) A physical illness was turning into something harder to shake, as the Yankee bats went to sleep and the team went on a losing streak.
The hapless Oakland A’s did wonders for the team’s morale—not to mention health—for awhile, including Teixeira’s. But a road stand at the Angels, where they lost two of three, are making many fans wonder all over again if this is longer lasting.
Some years ago, Bronx Bomber captain Derek Jeter noted that, while some teams have a single season of 162 games, you would think the Yankees have 162 seasons of one game each, based on the daily hysteria of the media. There have been other years when the team went through inexplicable cold spells, only to right themselves in the end. On the other hand, there’s also 2008, when they finished out of the money.
Here’s hoping that the team gets back to and stays on its winning ways, and that this is not just another manifestation of what Alex Rodriguez contracted after the 2009 World Series: The Curse of Kate Hudson. The team not only disregarded my perfectly reasonable suggestion that they vote her a full World Series share for how she helped turn the third baseman’s head (and performance) around, but Stray-Rod ditched her and took up with successive blondes (Cameron Diaz and Torrie Wilson) with nowhere near as good results.
Maybe a love doctor will cure what's ailing A-Rod and the Yanks. Otherwise, this latest slump could turn into the equivalent of the bubonic plague.