Wednesday, January 8, 2014
BE AUTHENTIC OR GO HOME!
At #BYB it is fair to say we call it as we see it. We do our homework and we are selective about our words and our topics, which are fueled by fan interest, current events and our own experiences. We communicate with one another, like a team does or should when we strategize what to write about and when. We use social media to connect because we are not all in the same city or state for that matter. And at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month and at the end of year we are real, we are authentic. What I appreciate about the #BYB team is that we will not stand for any less than sincerity. And we want the Yankees and baseball for that matter to be nothing less than real.
RA Dickey, former New York Mets now Toronto Blue Jays pitcher said it simply in a quote published in the New York Times from his book, Whenever I Wind Up. My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball, “There are all kinds of nuances you can really only learn by having been beaten up a little bit and picking yourself back up.” Dickey has learned to live and relish the moment because of the battles he has fought in his professional and personal lives. But do you have to fight a battle to find your way to authenticity? Perhaps…isn’t the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” one we can all relate to at one point or another in our lives?
So, who is on the short list of authentic in our baseball world? How about just Yankeeland? Reflecting on this, for me, was no small task. In fact, I just finished teaching a group of 16 Chinese students from Shanghai this week. We discussed the importance of being authentic in our communication to audiences. When I asked them what that meant, I found myself facing an audience of crickets. But, then, I asked them to pause and think about what that meant. I straight up asked them to tell me what the definition of authenticity was? Here’s what I got: Reliable, Believable, Real, Powerful, Unique and Genuine. I was floored by two of the definitions- Powerful and Unique. Interesting take on authenticity by a group of 20 something Chinese nationals; I will start with these two terms because perhaps these are the results of one being authentic.
Who is powerful and unique in Yankeeland because of their believability, reliability, realness and genuineness? If we narrow it down to players who are currently active, my list looks like this: Derek Jeter, CC Sabathia, David Robertson- to start.
I might also suggest Brett Gardner, Ivan Nova, David Phelps and Brendan Ryan (yet I don’t know much about their community work). Is it unique to be authentic? Perhaps. Does it make you powerful? I think it can. Presidents get elected because they portray themselves as authentic. High school players are chosen for teams because of their work ethic and talent, which boils down to authenticity. You either are or aren’t. You either put in the work or you don’t. You can’t fake it. And when you do, you might be Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira or Robinson Cano- all held powerful roles at one time, but because of their less than authentic practices, may have fallen out of fans’ graces.
Right before New Year’s I had dinner with a friend at an old-style Italian Restaurant off the strip called Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern. They had a back room, which our table faced, called the Clubhouse. I took a short tour on my own as tables turned over and I was awed.
Vintage pictures of Yankee greats, covers of World Series and regular season programs (many of which I once owned), headlines of memorable events like Joey D’s streak ending at 56, Yankee Stadium celebrating 50 years, and a picture depicting Yankee greats through the years entitled Steinbrenner’s Dream.
I was in heaven but as I developed this article over the last few weeks, I realized that that room in that restaurant called the Clubhouse depicted a very different game than the one we have in front of us today. The players played sick, hurt, tired, drunk, sober, bloodied. They didn’t need fancy; they needed a ballpark and some fans. They didn’t have full body workouts and high tech machines, they just went out and played and when they could not play any more, they retired. Many remain powerful and unique because of what they did on and off the field. They defined authentic. And I fear, that outside a few, that authentic is a dying breed.
So I end this article the same way I began it: here at #BYB we call the game the way we see it- real, authentic, and true. We don’t always like what we see. We are not always happy with our team and their actions. And we sometimes have to report it anyway. I can’t tell players how to live their lives, but I can give my opinion and here it is: Be Authentic or Go Home.
--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Opinion Columnist
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