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Archive for May 14th, 2011

Bernie Williams entered June 1995 in a terrible slump, which prompted a temporary demotion to the bottom of the lineup. In order to motivate his young centerfielder, Buck Showalter jokingly suggested to Williams that after ninth, the next stop was the bench. The message must have been received loud and clear because not only did Bernie hit .419 in the eight games spent batting last, but he went on to have a borderline Hall of Fame career.

Girardi has had Posada’s back all season, but could his patience be wearing out?

Although Showalter’s not so subtle suggestion was meant to be in good fun (at least according to Michael Kay, who has recounted the story several times over the years), it also had a purpose. As Paul O’Neill articulated during a recent broadcast, players are well aware of how their position in the batting order reflects the manager’s current thinking. Well, if Jorge Posada was wondering about Joe Girardi’s state of mind, tonight’s lineup should cast aside any doubt.

For the first time since May 14, 1999, exactly 12 years to the date, Jorge Posada is in the starting lineup batting ninth. The demotion, which marks the culmination of Posada’s gradual decent in the batting order, might be a bit startling because of his stature, but certainly not surprising considering his performance to date.

I put myself in this spot. It’s not like I want to hit ninth, and it’s not like I want to hit .100-and-whatever I’m hitting. It’s just a matter of really coming out of it.” – Jorge Posada, quoted by the LoHud Yankees Blog, May 14, 2011

Just last week, Posada publically thanked Girardi for his continued support, and before today’s game, he absolved him of any guilt by graciously accepting the decision. How could he not? A .165 batting average is impossible for even the most prideful player to ignore.

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Earlier in the season, there was some concern expressed about the decline in attendance at Yankee Stadium. Over the first 22 games of the home schedule, approximately 3,300 fewer fans have attended each game, which represents a 7% year-over-year dip from last year’s average of 45,050. From my standpoint, however, the greater concern isn’t the people who aren’t going to the game, but the relative indifference exhibited by the ones who are.

This year, it seems as if an increasing number of games at Yankee Stadium have ended with the stands sparsely filled.

It was easy to dismiss the Stadium crowd’s passivity earlier in the season when the opponents were Chicago, Toronto and Kansas City, but last night the Red Sox were in town. Granted, the Yankees’ offense didn’t give the fans much to cheer about for most of the game, but even so, the general vibe from the crowd was indifference. This lack of investment in the outcome was made further evident when what seemed like half the stadium emptied after the bottom of the eighth. If Mark Teixeira had launched Jonathan Papelbon’s last pitch into the stands for a dramatic walk-off victory, it probably would have landed in an empty seat.

After mentioning this perceived indifference on Twitter, there were alot of interesting replies. Ross of NYY Stadium Insider (@StadiumInsider) suggested that the proliferation of smart phones might be the main culprit. Although others disagreed, it does seem as if he has a point. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to look around the stands and see just as many heads peering down at their PDAs as looking out toward the action on the field. Baseball has always been a game conducive to diversion, but is the creeping penetration of technology starting to become too much of a distraction?

Although the handheld devices theory would explain less interest and interaction, it doesn’t address the increasing proportion of the crowd that is leaving early. It’s hard to pinpoint why more and more fans are opting to beat the traffic, but over the first 20 games of the home schedule, the ballpark in the Bronx has looked more like Dodger Stadium East.

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