For over a century, and especially since the days of George Steinbrenner, the motto of the New York Yankees has been “World Series or bust”. World Series or bust means that every year they don’t win a World Series is the failure, and defines the gold standard for a franchise with a record 27 championships. This standard is especially relevant in 2023, as the Yankees streak of not winning a championship has hit fourteen years, and they missed the playoffs at 82-80 despite having the second highest payroll in baseball.
Yankees fans, having been sold on this motto for most of their lives, were eager to see the outrage and radical changes from a franchise that has continued to fail at their mission statement. They looked to comments from owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman about what could possibly fix the mess in New York.
Well, these comments came nearly a month after the season ended, when Cashman and Steinbrenner addressed the media this Tuesday. And honestly, the responses they gave were horrific. Manager Aaron Boone and almost the entire front office have kept their jobs thus far, and the hope for change was diminished through excuses about injuries, past moves not working out, and Cashman going as far as to say that he believes they are “pretty f****** good, personally”.
Why These Comments are Disappointing
On paper, it may look like a good thing that the general manager and owner are satisfied with the state of the franchise, but for Yankees fans, it clearly means something different. It means that despite the mission statement being what it is, the front office has changed their tune and no longer believes that championships are the ultimate goal. They are satisfied with winning seasons, and just being viable enough to get into the postseason most years.
This is not a good thing because it also means that they aren’t as likely to make the aggressive moves needed this summer to put the Yankees back to being first ballot contenders. It’s likely that they won’t even talk to megastar Shohei Ohtani because of his price tag and the disastrous Giancarlo Stanton deal on their hands. They also are likely to cling to prospects that have proven little in trade discussions for Juan Soto, who is twenty five and already thought by most to be a future Hall of Famer. Ohtani and Soto are generational talents that the Yankees would have never missed out on in the past, but it has become the new norm for them.
No change for the Yankees means once again relying on guys to turn back the clock physically like DJ LeMahieu and Stanton. It means relying on pitchers who have gone off the rails in New York like Carlos Rodon. It means hoping that prospects like Oswald Peraza and Austin Wells can hit at the major league level, which years of history tells us isn’t always the case with Yankee prospects. The team needs radical moves, but Cashman just wants to stick to the system.
Now behind the logical facts, let’s also get to the emotional part of what Cashman is telling Yankees fans in his messaging. The truth is, for most fanbases, a system that has winning seasons every year is good. Cashman is trying to act like fans are ungrateful, as teams like the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates would dream of having a GM like him.
The thing missing in this analysis is that not every team is the biggest brand in the league. Not every team makes hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Not every team has the most expensive ticket prices, with expensive food at the stadium, and sells out their ballpark almost every night. Not every fanbase is as invested as this one.
So in my opinion, it takes overwhelming arrogance to tell a fanbase like this that everything is fine. That they are not going to do anything to radically change things. To ask them to sit quietly and not overreact. That is not in the DNA of Yankees fans, and a GM as tenured as Brian Cashman should know that. For the Yankee’s sake, let’s hope it was just a front and actual big changes will be made.