The Yankees and Clutch Hitting 10-11-12

I have been a Yankee fan for more than 60 years and I have the baseball cards to prove it. Over the years the Yankees have had some great clutch hitters and a plethora of mid season pick ups and one years signees that have produced in the clutch.

Tommy Henrich was known as “Old Reliable” and others like Johnny Lindell, Enos Slaughter, the great Johnny Mize, Hank Bauer, Hector Lopez, and Johnny Blanchard were known for their timely hitting. There have been scores of others who have hit key and memorable homers like Bucky Dent, Jim Leyritz , Chris Chambliss, Thurmun Munson, Hidecki Matsui, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posoda. Great hitters like; Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jeter and Cano seem to produce key game winning hits so often that many of those specific accomplishments are lost in the midst of a lifetime of exceptional play. Mantle’s game-winning, walk-off homer against Barney Schultz in the 1964 World Series was fabulous. But, the fact that the Yankees lost game seven to the Cards relegated that home run to just another great Mantle blast.

Up until the era of the playoffs, players had rare opportunities to shine in the few playoffs that were created only by statistical ties. The great, and most heralded performance, was that of Bobby Thomson in the 3rd game of the 1951 playoff series against the Dodgers. With his famous “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” he became legendary.

Most players had few opportunities to shine on the national stage until the elongated post season arrived in the 1970’s. With the Yankees, who have dominated much of baseball history from 1921 through today, they participated in few real pennant races and therefore memorable walk off hits or home runs like Bucky Dent’s were few and far between.

Over the years, I have been watching an unlimited amount of Yankee games every year, and in that time I have been able to discern who I can expect to deliver a “clutch” hit. Now “a one” time “clutch” hit or even a great playoff series isn’t indicative of anything more then a lucky event, or just a hot series. Brian Doyle, Billy Martin, Aaron Boone, Bucky Dent and scores of others have had a key hit or a great series. That doesn’t make them a great player or a “clutch” hitter. Bobby Richardson was the hitting star of the 1960 World Series, but because the Pirates won in dramatic fashion, in game seven, with Bill Mazeroski’s walk off homer, Richardson’s incredible performance was more or less forgotten. Aside from that World Series, Richardson never had a similar week of production in his whole excellent career.

In my time, I was able to witness countless “key” hits and great at bats by people like Yogi Berra, Roy White, Elston Howard, Hank Bauer, Hector Lopez, Lou Piniella, Paul O’Neill, Hidecki Matsui, Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter. Those players aside from their yearly and lifetime numbers, seemed to get their “bat on the ball” when it counted. I am reminded of how well Keith Hernandez and Don Clendenon carried the Mets in two different seasons, by getting key hits after the 7th inning, with men on bases. Some players make almost every at bat count and sometimes someone with 85 RBIs is more productive then the player with 110.

As to Alex Rodriguez, who became the focus of last night’s remarkable victory authored by Raul Ibanez, the question remains; is he through? In all the years I have been watching baseball I have never seen a player with his career numbers, get so many meaningless hits. It seems to me that he homers when the Yankees are either way behind of way ahead. He certainly is the type of player who’s good enough to get a hit now and again, but he has seen his steroid-enhanced skills deteriorate in the same way as others who had preceded him. Look what happened to McGwire, Sosa, Giambi, Pudge Rodriguez and many others when their bodies were weaned off drugs. They lost power and that affected their timing. Too bad they have him signed for five more years. In the past, he would have been cut already. Now its hard to argue with 650 homers and oodles of RBIs, but with regards to the old cliché, “What have you done for me today.” When was the last time a Hall of Famer went without a homerun, or even an RBI, in 65 or so at bats?

This year’s Yankee team featured absolutely terrible hitting with men on bases. This Yankee futility has been well-chronicled. Their lack of comeback rallies after the 7th inning, for a team that led the league in victories, was astounding. They hit a team record 245 home runs, but their individual production was mediocre. Robinson Cano, their best hitter, had his statistics decline from last year. He went through weeks like he was sleep- walking. Jeter was great, what else is new?

But high paid talent like Teixeira and Granderson saw their production drop off from their 2011 numbers. Rodriguez and Martin had their second successive year of mediocre production and Swisher basically matched last year’s statistics. The following are the percentage of strike outs during the past season, per at bat, for Granderson (32%), Rodriguez (25), Swisher (21), Martin (22), Teixeira (18) and Jeter (13%). Each player but Jeter and Teixeira increased their strike outs dramatically.

The team, along with the great acquisition of Ichiro, was carried by role players who happened to have some hot stretches. Ibanez, Chavez and others, including even Jones were quite heroic at some time during the season. The regulars did not win the 2012 Division.

The bottom line is that the team is producing less, not hitting with men on base, relying on home runs, and is an aging team, which depended on its role players. The future status of Swisher is in doubt. Jeter, Rodriguez, Ichiro, Ibanez, Chavez, Pettitte, Rivera, and Kuroda are between 35 and 40 years old, and can the Yanks really depend on Sabbathia, Teixeira and Martin to continue to produce? So far I see no great future from anyone but Cano.

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A lifelong New Yorker, who now lives full-time in Palm Beach County, Richard was raised in Mount Vernon, New York and he was educated in the Mount Vernon public schools He graduated from Boston University with a BA in American History. After spending a year on Wall Street as a research analyst with Bache & Co., he joined a manufacturing and importing firm, where over the next twenty-five years he rose to the position of chief operating officer. After the sale of that business, Richard entered into the financial services field with Metropolitan Life and is a Registered Representative, who has been associated with Acorn Financial Services which is affiliated with John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston, Ma. Today, he is a retired broker who had specialized in long-term care insurance and financial planning. One of Richard’s recent activities was to advise and encourage communities to seek ways to incorporate “sustainability and resiliency” into their future infrastructure planning. After a lifetime in politics, with many years working as a district leader, which involved party organizational work, campaign chair activity and numerous other political tasks, Richard has been involved with numerous civic and social causes. In recent years, Richard served in 2005 as the campaign coordinator of the Re-Elect Paul Feiner Campaign in Greenburgh, NY and he again chaired Supervisor Feiner’s successful landslide victory in 2007. Over the next few years, he advised a number of political candidates. He has served as an appointed Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with responsibilities regarding the town’s “liaison program.” He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of the Town of Greenburgh, NY. Richard has lectured on FDR, The New Deal and 20th century American history in the Mount Vernon schools, at the Westchester Council of Social Studies annual conference in White Plains, and at many senior citizen groups, which include appearances at the Old Guard of White Plains, the Rotary Clubs of Elmsford and White Plains, and various synagogue groups around Westchester. In the winter of 2006 Richard was the leader of the VOCAL forum, sponsored by the Westchester County Office of Aging, which addresses the concerns of Westchester County’s Intergenerational Advocacy Educational Speak-out forums for senior citizens. Richard has given lectures for the Active Retirement Project, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, and other groups around Westchester County. Richard also is the founder and Chairperson of the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, that judges and grants annual prizes to students at Mount Vernon High School who submit essays on public policy themes. He also sponsors the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize for the leading MVHS history student. Richard serves on the Student College Scholarship Committee of Mount Vernon High School. In past years Richard chaired and moderated the Jon Breen Fund Award’s cablecast program with the Mayor and local and school officials. Richard has been a member of Blythedale Children’s Hospital’s Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, and was a founding member of the committee to re-new the FDR Birthday Balls of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the March of Dimes’ effort to eliminate birth defects. Their renewal dinner was held at Hyde Park on January 30, 2003. Richard is currently an active contributor to the Roosevelt Institute, which is involved in many pursuits which included the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Center at Hyde Park, and the Eleanor Roosevelt – Val-Kill Foundation. In 2007, he proposed to the City of Mount Vernon an effort to develop an arts, educational, and cultural center as part of a downtown re-development effort. Richard was a team partner with the Infrastructure & Energy Solutions Group. IEFG which has developed innovative strategies for the 21st Century. Richard hosted a weekly program on WVOX-1460 AM radio, called “The Advocates,” which was concerned with “public policy” issues. The show, which was aired from 2007 until May 15, 2013, has had amongst its guests; Representative Charles Rangel, Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, along with hundreds of others. All the 300 shows are archived at Richard currently gives lectures on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR and the Jewish Community, The New Deal, FDR and Douglas MacArthur, 20th Century American Foreign Policy Resulting in Conflict, and Israel’s Right to Exist. Richard lives in Boynton Beach, Fl, with his wife Linda of 44 years. They have two married children. Their daughter Dana is a Rutgers College graduate, with a MS from Boston University, and is the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Their son Jon is an electrical engineering graduate of Princeton University and a senior software architect at NY/Mellon Bank in NYC. Richard J. Garfunkel Recent Appearances: KTI Synagogue, Rye Brook, NY- Long Term Care & Estate Conservation- Anshe Shalom Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY- Long Term Care- American Legion Post, Valhalla, NY- Long Term Care and Asset Protection- Doyle Senior Ctr, New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care and Asset Protection- AME Methodist Ministers, New Rochelle, NY, LTC and Charitable Giving- Profession Women in Construction, Elmsford, NY, LTC and Business Benefits- Kol Ami Synagogue- White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Disability - Beth El Men's Club-New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care-Is it Necessary- Greater NY Dental Meeting Javits Ctr, NY, NY- LTC and Disability- IBEW Local #3 , White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Asset Protection, Health Fair -Bethel Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY-LTC and Disability, Heath Fair- Riverdale Mens Club CSAIR- Riverdale, NY- LTC- Life Weight Watchers of Westchester and the Bronx-LTC and Tax Implications Sunrise Assisted Living of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, NY-LTC Sprain Brook Manor of Scarsdale-LTC- November 15, 2001 Sunrise Assisted Living of Stamford, Connecticut, February 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, February, 2002 The Old Guard Society of White Plains, NY, April, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY August, 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, October, 2002 JCC of Scarsdale, Scarsdale, NY, November, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY, January, 2003 The Rotary Club of White Plains, NY January, 2003 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY April, 2003 Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY January, 2004 Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY March 2004 Kol Ami/JCC of White Plains, NY November, 2004 The Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, January 2005 The Sunrise of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, April, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, November, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, December, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, January, 2005 Rotary Club of Elmsford, April, 2006 Kiwanis Club of Yonkers, June, 2006 Greenburgh Jewish Center, November, 2006 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, February, 2007 Hebrew Institute, White Plains, March, 2007 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, NY, April, 2007 Westchester Meadows. Valhalla, November, 2007 Hebrew Institute. White Plains, November, 2007 Art Zuckerman Radio Show- January, 2008 JCC of the Hudson, Tarrytown, February, 2008 Matt O’Shaughnessy Radio Show, March, 2008 WVOX –Election Night Coverage, November, 2008 WVOX – Inaugural Coverage, January 20, 2009 The Advocates-host of the WVOX Radio Show, 2007- 2010 Rotary Club of Pleasantville, February, 2009 Hebrew Institute of White Plains, May, 2009 JCC Hudson, Tarrytown, December, 2009-10-11-12 Brandeis Club, Yonkers, March 25, 2010

1 thought on “The Yankees and Clutch Hitting 10-11-12

  1. I’ve read two of your articles (so far) with great interest (Max Macoby, and NY Yankees).. I remembered hearing from neighbors that Rabbi Macoby had lived in my house at 655 Lafayette Avenue in Mount Vernon just before my parents bought that same house in September of 1944.I lived there until 1958 when I graduated from A.B. Davis High School. I’ve always been interested in genealogy and family history, so I put together a book which included some details about that house, built in 1917 and which had downstairs facilities for a servant and a “butler’s pantry” next to the dining room. I was curious as to whether the Macoby’s would have had a servant (which we did not). I entered “Rabbi Macoby” on and it showed that the family did indeed have a maid according to the 1940 census. Her name was Lena Flythe, age 24. The only thing I can’t figure out is that the family lived on Wallace Avenue in Mount Vernon at the time of the census. I don’t know if you are able to fill in the gaps for me. Even if not, your memories of Mount Vernon were very interesting to me as well as your memories of the Yankees. I remember my first game was September 25, 1950 and I attended many games over the years since then. Perhaps Rabbi Macoby’s daughter, Miriam, (listed on the 1940 census) would be able to recall anything about where she lived. I remember a few exchanges between congregations (I was Congregational) and I recall meeting Mrs. Macoby and we briefly discussed what a nice house it was. Another exchange we had was at the Temple on Crary Avenue that I recall clearly. I’m looking forward to hearing from you and any other memories of Mount Vernon.

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