Monday, December 8, 2014


Gene “Stick” Michael should have his number retired. No not for his career stats as a baseball player. Michael hit just .229 over the 9 years he spent in the Majors. As a player he suited up for the Dodgers, Pirates, Yankees and Tigers and was never really a household name. The Stick was your basic journeyman, so why am I saying the Bronx Bombers should hang his number up? It’s because Gene Michael was the architect behind the great, New York dynasty of the 1990’s. He was the man that told the Boss to smarten up, stop giving the farm away and throwing money out the window on pricey, free agents. In short, Stick Michael showed George Steinbrenner a thing or two about winning.

We find ourselves in midst of some strange days in the Bronx. There is no longer a Captain at the helm. The Core 4 is no more. The old building that shook and rocked as fans went wild for the likes of Donnie and Paulie (OH HOLD ON TO THE ROOF!) is no longer standing.

The Yankees now play in a sharp looking mall. It’s just across the street for where the Babe, Lou, Joe D and Mickey once stood, but it’s a far cry from the ghost filled Cathedral of Baseball. The club still has big names…that carry bigger contracts and often are the BIGGEST of disappointments…looking at you, Tex.

The thing that really gets me is that when we suffered from this same "SPEND & SHIP" formula  in the 1980s The Stick fixed it. He assembled a great crew around him…hey, I’m not a huge Buck Showalter fan since he was canned in New York, but Buck is a builder. He was a big part of shaping the club that went on to 3peat. Michael fought for the young guys. He showed George that there were more like Bernie down on the farm. He explained why trading away All-Star Bobby Kelly for a fiery Irishman named O’Neill was the right move. He picked up role players and overlooked gems and went after solid starting pitching when needed. The Stick is a baseball man. He knows the game. He knows players. He knows what a TEAM should look like. He knows the method to the madness. He put all the pieces in place…so why have the Yankee brass forgotten what Michael taught the Boss? Beats the hell out of me.

Sure, EVERYBODY likes the big name free agent signing. In 2009 the winter spend fest gave us a one off title. But let’s be fair. The core of that team wasn’t bought it was grown. The Core 4 was still in place. The pieces around it absolutely helped bring it home, but the culture of winning was set in motion over a decade earlier.

Now we see the Pre-Stick days returning. Hal is out of his depth as an owner in my opinion. Cashman is the great spender of the family money…but now what? Didi? I hope that turns out to be a good move, but I’d bet that Gene Michael would have said, “Why not hang on to Shane? He has something. We have kids in the system that can do what Didi does…and they are already here!” Like a young kid from Michigan who was once hours away from being trade bait…he turned out okay.

I’m not saying the Yankees won’t be good. I’m just saying that with an organization that has such an historic past, maybe the current decision makers should look to the recent past…I think it will prove that sometimes repeating history can be a good thing.

** I was kidding about hanging up Stick’s number of course…but maybe at least name a luxury suite after him…there are plenty to go around in the new Stadium. Thanks Stick. Since you know how to cut through the madness…here is The Madness! ONE STEP BEYOND!!**

 --Mike O'Hara
Senior "Features" Writer
Twitter: @mikeyoh21

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