By Jason Klein
Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 10/14/09
The swagger is back in the Bronx.
As the New York Yankees prepare for their American League Championship Series with the Los Angeles Angels, it’s clear, there’s something different about this team. In the eight seasons immediately following their Subway Series victory in 2000, the New York Yankees morphed into a collection of highly-paid, corporate superstars. Team chemistry was weak. Anxiety levels were high. These days, the Yankees are wearing their ties a little looser and having a little more fun at the ball park.
So what changed? That’s easy…easy as pie.
In 2009, the most traditional team in all of sports established a new ritual – a good, old fashioned, pie to the face – courtesy of AJ’s Bakery, Co. All pies were hand delivered by Pitcher, AJ Burnett, on cue, to any player to notch a walk-off hit in the Bronx.
Early on, critics scoffed at the amateurish celebration tactic adopted by the business-like Yankees. Many argued that such a childish act seemed out of place among these men in pinstriped suits, claiming it was not “Yankee-like.” As irony would have it, a little silliness was exactly what this team needed.
Unlike so many other Yankees teams that have come before them, the 2009 club seems more relaxed, and free from all the stress that comes along with the yearly “World Series victory or bust” mentality. The additions of free-spirits like Burnett and Nick Swisher have served as the perfect compliment to the older, more business-like core of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada.
Initially, there was some question as to how a member of that “old guard” would react when greeted with a face full of whipped cream. That was answered on July 4, 2009 when Posada stole the game from the Blue Jays with a walk off single in the 12th inning. Like clockwork, the catcher’s postgame interview turned into a pie eating contest, much to the delight of on looking fans.
Each walk-off pie – there have been 16 of them so far, including Mark Teixeira’s ALDS Game 2 pastry punch – has served as much more than a show of celebration. It has developed camaraderie, calmed nerves, and tasted much sweeter than the humble pie they’ve been forced to eat in recent years.
Timely hitting, lights out pitching, and the addition of team-first players like Teixeira and CC Sabathia have all been major reasons this club has succeeded. Most importantly, this team has been reminded that winning can be fun. A little whipped cream is all it took to ease the tension of the daily New York baseball rigors.
The 2009 Yankees are all having a blast. It seems as though this baseball machine is destined to return to glory. The roster is a perfect blend of experience, youth, and journeymen – all hungry for the same thing: a World Series title, and perhaps some pie for dessert.
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