The New York Yankees season began as a wonderful surprise but, for the past several weeks, it’s been a nightmare. Poor play and injuries to multiple key players have derailed the season and now they sit three and a half back of Boston in the East, trending in the wrong direction.
The poor play — particularly from the bullpen — has been hard to stomach, but injuries just happen, right? No one to blame for injuries. Unless, of course, you’re an anonymous member of the Yankees brass, who believes that there is something wrong with one young injured player for, you know, being injured. This comes from Bill Madden’s latest column at the Daily News:
Much as the Torres and Fowler injuries were downright heartbreaking, the Bird mystery ankle bruise has become merely annoying. Despite numerous tests that have turned up nothing, Bird continues to insist the ankle is still sore — too sore to allow him to play. The Yankee brass has become exasperated with Bird, who’s never been able to stay healthy, and it has gotten to the point where if he doesn’t get back on the field after the All-Star break, they are prepared to move him over the winter.
“You really have to wonder what’s with this guy,” a Yankee insider complained to me earlier this week. “You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here he’d want to be a part of this. Apparently not.”
Sure, because a guy spends twenty four years devoting his life to baseball, working his tail off for six years in the minors to transform himself from a fifth round selection to a top prospect and the Yankees first baseman of the future, comes back from serious shoulder surgery and then, suddenly, simply decides that he doesn’t “want to be a part of this.” Clearly he must be lying about his ankle. There’s no WAY he could actually be in pain.
What crap. What utter disdain this cowardly, anonymous Yankees executive has for one of the players expected to be a key part of the Yankees future. How pathetic it is that he so easily dismisses something he likely has no experience with whatsoever, going so far as to question the drive, motivation and character of a 24-year-old athlete.
And how cowardly of the column’s author to not even attempt to push back on this crap narrative. He makes no effort to talk to trainers or coaches or Bird himself to characterize Bird’s injury in anything approaching a balanced way. Rather, he simply allows this Yankees executive to malign Bird with not even a hint of pushback. Maybe he’d be owed a bit of the benefit of the doubt in the normal course, but given how comically and shamelessly wrong he has been in the past by virtue of his work as a mouthpiece for Yankees brass, I suspect it’s too much to ask for him to be even remotely critical.
How about this: when a player says he’s hurt, believe him. And if you don’t believe him, talk to him in private, don’t slander him in the tabloids. That’s low rent garbage.