Brett Gardner
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Brett Gardner’s recent antics for the New York Yankees have been polarizing, but what does it mean for the team’s reputation?

Allison Case

May I present to you, the 2019 New York Yankees. These are not your typical Yankees. Like it or not, the game has changed significantly over the years and it’s about time the Yankees catch up with the trend.

These Yankees are used to being hated by other fan bases and franchises because of their incredible success over the years. Now, they are being hated because they are good and actually having fun, something the iconic franchise isn’t usually known for.

Lately, the talk has been surrounding Brett Gardner and his dugout antics. The bat banging has become a perpetual issue and the subsequent freak-outs have become far too common. While several fans believe this behavior is childish and unnecessary, putting his team in a bad position, many believe that it is the driving force behind the hot and passionate 2019 team.

So, who is right? Or do both sides have a legitimate beef?

While the behavior itself seems juvenile, the reasoning behind the behavior is not. Gardner has spoken to the media and uses his bat as a way to express his frustrations with the umpires who have been putting the Yankees in bad positions with their questionable calls.

Instead of yelling out and barking at the umpires, Gardner found a way to express his frustrations that, while unique, isn’t exactly out of the ordinary.

Paul O’Neill was a figure who did far worse, making water coolers shiver when he was a victim of a bad call. David Ortiz has vandalized property more than once without repercussions. Chris Sale, Bryce Harper, and several other big names have attacked property, their own teammates and even reporters after a loss.

Guys, this isn’t something new. It’s something that has been going on for a while. The thing is, the Yankees are using it as fuel and now, everyone hates it.

Sure, everyone thinks the Yankees now have a target on their back because of it. Every time Aaron Boone gets ejected, he is going berserk. Every time Brett Gardner gets ejected, he is showing off his sailor’s mouth. Every time CC Sabathia gets ejected, he is laughing about it on his podcast.

The truth is the Yankees don’t have a target on their back because of their attitude. They have a target on their back because they are winning. They have a target on their back because, despite the challenges they have faced all season long, they’ve found a way to make it all work when other teams (e.g. the Red Sox) have not.

This is a tried-and-true fact that has spanned the sport of baseball for centuries. The Yankees are good … incredibly good, even in a season where injuries have been a constant headache for manager Aaron Boone. And because of that, everything they do is now under a microscope.

What about last year when the Boston Red Sox started playing “New York, New York” as their battle cry? Or when their season motto was “Damage Done”? It was hilarious. For Yankees fans, it wasn’t always fun and made them hate the Red Sox even more. But when it all came down to it, the Red Sox were winning and it didn’t matter what they said or did. They were confident and they were having fun with being the most hated team in the sport because they were finishing out the night with another victory in the win column.

Just like this year’s Yankees team.

Can Brett Gardner find something else to do? Sure. But the fact that he is now being tossed out of the game for something that has appeared in several variations throughout the years is unacceptable.

If it’s going to be a rule, make it one. It’s that simple. Instead, the Yankees are the target because they’re a good team and a passionate one.

Let the kids play, right? That means let them show some passion, excitement, and energy for their game. Let them flip their bats and display their frustration in any way that they please, as long as no one is getting hurt. Then, and only then, will the sport expand.

Besides, how many views has the MLB Twitter page gotten since Gardy’s bat antics? How many people have been tuning in just to see what craziness will happen next? Maybe that should be the focus instead of attacking one team for trying to make the sport a little more fun to watch.

If Gardner can’t do this, then bat flips can’t happen. Tim Anderson will be out of a job. Pitchers can’t yell out in frustration after executing a horrible pitch or question anything the umpires do. These passionate reactions show us that the players are human and that makes this game great.

Brett Gardner can’t be blamed for his actions causing the team to have a target on their back. That’s a problem for Major League Baseball. As long as the Yankees continue playing their game, they will continue to dominate.

And, hey, if they end up winning the World Series, so be it. Maybe MLB will realize that letting the kids play is the way to create some fun baseball in the future and that’s exactly what this Yankees team is doing.

Allison is just a girl with an enormous passion for the game of baseball and the written word. Based in Upstate New York, her life-long relationship with the New York Yankees is something that she developed through close relationships with her mother and grandfather. An aspiring sports writer, she graduated with a journalism degree and is finding places to share her excitement about the sporting world and how it affects us all.