May 12. 2022
We’ve all seen it a billion times before. It’s been this way ever since we were kids, and it will always be this way.
A visiting team grinds out a close game against a talented, disloyal Yankee team full of high-priced mercenaries. Battling a hostile crowd and some of the most gassed-up athletes money can buy, that team racks up good at bats, plays solid defense, and keeps the Yankee offense at bay inning after inning. The Yankees feel their backs against the wall and wonder what they need to do in order to pull out this victory.
Actually, that’s a lie. They don’t wonder what they have to do to “earn” the victory. Not for a damn second. They know exactly which play to run, and they run it better than anyone else in the league because they are the only team that has access to it 81 games per season.
The Porch Play.
Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Jackson, Williams, O’Neil, Martinez, Jeter, Giambi, Judge, Stanton, LeMahieu … just how many players have seen their stats and paychecks exceedingly padded over the decades thanks to the luxury of having the right field seats in Yankee Stadium closer to home plate than the distance that most teenagers can put a shot?
We were all Chris Woodward after the Yankees pretended like they earned a hard fought victory on Mother’s Day. He called it like he saw it, as so many of us fans of other teams have called it ever since we first set eyes on the gaggle of mutants that populate Yankee Stadium’s right field bleachers.
“Small ballpark, that’s an easy out in 99 percent of ballparks. … [Torres] just happened to hit it in a little league ballpark to right field.”
Think about how that must feel as an MLB manager. The amount of concentration and anxiety that comes with managing any game at the highest level, let alone managing a visiting team at this pisshole that eggheaded tools like Bob Costas love to fawn over with pretentious phrases like hallowed cathedral and monument of the immortals and whatever else came up in their word-of-the-day calendars that week. You watch your team gut out a tough game doing everything right. They fight their way into position where they could possibly pull out a win in one of the toughest environments to play in as a visitor in all of sports.
Then what happens?
Some putz hovering around the Mendoza line, with an OBP that would make for a lousy batting average, sticks his bat out and lofts a lazy fly ball to right. A can of corn in 29 Major League ballparks. The right fielder drifts back a few steps, then a few more, settles under the ball, and waits for it to sink into his glove for an out.
But all of a sudden, he backs into a wall. A 10-foot high wall. With a herd of manimals jumping up and down, slobbering on each other, and already trying to convince themselves that this is a legitimate home run. Sometimes, like this past Sunday, it’s the ultimate miscarriage of justice.
The kick to the babymakers. The unpadded boxing glove. The salt-in-the-eyes from Mr. Fuji.
The walk-off short porch home run.
Does the short porch cheap shot always end the game? Of course not. But somehow, it always seems to come at the most crucial juncture.
Legends have even been born under these circumstances. Two in this case: Derek Jeter and Jeffrey Maier.
(Note: Is it not the most Jeter thing ever that he founded his reputation as a postseason hero on a ball that he couldn’t even hit far enough to clear the short porch?)
Gleyber Torres had the company line locked and loaded the minute a camera came within fifty feet of him following this farcical flyout. I’ve heard that Yankee players have this quote printed word-for-word at the bottom of the shift cards they keep in their back pockets.
“I feel like both teams play in the same ballpark and it’s the same dimensions.”
John has recited this load of hooey for twenty years, and it loses even more credibility each time it is uttered by one of these cretins. If you play 81 games per season in a place where the right field fence is within reach of the pee streams of most MLB players (it’s all about launch angle, people), is it in any way realistic to assume that you would not tailor your swing to take advantage of it?
If you’re a lefty, just swing up. If you’re a righty, stick your bat out at anything on the outer half of the plate and there’s a good chance you’ll be enjoying a pleasant 360-foot jog for your trouble. Can visiting players try this too? Sure. The Rangers managed to hit a couple on Sunday themselves. And then there’s this one.
But are visiting players going to work all year to ensure that 314-foot bloopers to right are a refined part of their game plan all because they will be visiting Yankee stadium two or three times per year?
Yankee fans love to hear Red Sox fans complain about this because the Bronx Boobs hilariously think they hold some trump card due to Fenway Park’s dimensions, as if it’s easier to hit a ball over a 37-foot wall 310 feet away than it is to hit one over a 10-foot wall 314 feet away. Then there’s the cavernous left field that the bleacher creatures boast about to keep Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton out of our cross hairs. You know, the one that’s eight whole feet deeper down the line than Fenway’s left field, which happens to be complimented by the gigantic green wall.
And how about the infamous Pesky Pole down Fenway’s right field line, which sits only 302 feet from home plate? You basically have to be a sniper and hit the ball directly off the pole in order to take advantage of that, since the fence juts straight back from there until reaching the right field corner, which is 380 feet away. At Yankee Stadium, you have to get to the heart of the power alley in right center field before you finally reach 385 feet.
We must also take the ages of the two stadiums into consideration. Fenway Park was built in 1912 in the heart of Boston. At 110 years old, it’s essentially a national monument. To rip that up and re-size it would be nothing less than a crime against baseball. The latest version of Yankee Stadium debuted in 2009, yet the team elected to retain the same bush league dimensions.
If the short porch wasn’t such a huge advantage, don’t you think the Steinbrenners would have insisted on pushing the fences back a bit? Do you think they enjoy the fact that their stadium, the home base of Major League Baseball’s flagship franchise, is mocked and derided by every single visiting player that sets foot on the playing surface?
Yankee fans need to be honest with themselves. The short porch is a joke. 10 – 15% of home runs to right field in Yankee Stadium are a joke. The career of Gleyber Torres is a joke. The fact that there are Yankee fans that actually believe Aaron Hicks has pop simply because he has played all his home games in Yankee Stadium is a joke.
The New York Yankees are, in essence, a joke. Would they have won 27 World Series titles without a short porch spoonfeeding home runs to all the legendary sluggers that have made their franchise such a historic powerhouse? Not likely.
Put the Yankees in Comerica Park for all of their home games since 1923, and they probably win 10 … maybe 12 championships. Which, I admit, is still pretty good.
Not to sully the good names of hall of famers like the Babe, the Iron Horse, the Mick, Mr. October, Paul O’Neil, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez (boy, this franchise got lazy with their nicknames after the 70s), and all the other “great” lefthanded Bronx Bombers, but they were basically all frauds.
Don’t shoot the messenger, Yankee fans. There’s no reason to overreact to this. All I’m saying is that your team’s entire reputation as a legendary championship franchise was built on a lie.
Is that really so bad?