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(2006) Jason Giambi Has No Reason to Feel Discomfort With Yankees

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Here is the kind of reporting that ticks me because it is superficial and unsubstantiated. In yesterday’s Washington Post, in a story by Howard Bryant that analyzed the wealth of the Yankees and their expectations to win, Bryant described Jason Giambi as having “a discomfort with the cold impersonality of the Yankees,” which is why Giambi is supposedly so happy to have his old Oakland buddy, Johnny Damon, along side him this season on the Yankees.Free Agent Stars Aren’t Selling Out to the New York Yankees

The underlying message of the Bryant description of Giambi, and similar stories of other new Yankees in recent years, suggest that free-agent stars somehow sell out when they sign with the NY Yankees.

In the case of Giambi, he was once viewed as a young, carefree, rebellious, long-haired leader of the irreverent A’s who appeared to march to the beat of his own drummer before selling his soul to the corporate New York Yankees.

Except one thing: When Giambi brought his star to New York we discovered he really wasn’t so carefree or rebellious or irreverent.

Instead, he gave every impression of being a very sensitive and perhaps even insecure and fragile guy. Yes, he has experienced large difficulties in New York, but the Yankees and the club’s fans have not treated him coldly. In fact, Giambi, in many ways has been offered much more support than a lot of other clubs might have given him in similar situations. If Giambi has felt any “discomfort” – and, to my knowledge, he has never said so publicly — it has been of his own making.

(2006) Jason Giambi Has No Reason to Feel Discomfort With Yankees(2006) Jason Giambi Has No Reason to Feel Discomfort With Yankees

Where Jason Giambi’s Difficulties Came From

Let’s review Giambi’s primary difficulties in New York. First, there was the issue of his personal trainer. Giambi wanted his trainer to have access to the team-only areas of the club’s domain. The Yankees, quite legitimately, drew certain boundaries with Giambi and his trainer. Brian Cashman even made the supportive and appropriate comment that the Yankees were confident that Giambi would be a great player without his trainer, and, indeed, the relationship did seem to border on dependency.

Giambi had a great first season with the Yankees in 2002, but injuries began taking a toll over the second half of the 2003 season.

In 2004, Giambi’s name was connected with the brewing steroids scandal. He also became seriously and mysteriously ill, but he refused to describe publicly the nature of his health problem, and the Yankees, respecting his privacy (or forced to respect his privacy), did not divulge the information.

When news was later leaked during the 2004-2005 off-season that Giambi had been honest about using steroids in his testimony to the grand jury, his Yankee teammates rallied around him and openly demonstrated their support of him in spring training last year.

What’s cold and impersonal about that? When Giambi met the press and acknowledged (sort of) his mistake, Joe Torre was there beside him at the new conference, showing his support, although Torre finds steroids objectionable and dangerous to the players and the game he loves.

What’s cold and impersonal about Joe Torre’s support?

Last season Yankees fans did boo Giambi on occasion when he wasn’t hitting his weight and not earning his salary, but these same fans generally reacted with compassion when he showed signs of resurrecting his career. They seemingly bought the idea that everyone is entitled to mistakes, and it is honorable not to slink away, but rather to try to make amends. What’s cold and impersonal about that?

So I don’t want to hear this crapola that having long hair and no discipline makes you more honorable –a people’s champ — than being a true professional, as personified by such Yankees as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mariano Rivera, and even Giambi, in terms of not giving up.

Really the Yankees get criticized (sometimes below the belt) for whatever image the public gives them. When the Yankees fought all over the place in the Billy Martin days, no one applauded them for being independent, unrestrained, and non-corporate types. No, the Yankees were called the Bronx Zoo, and not in the good way.

Lots of Teams Are Corporate

Truth, be told, the Dodgers are corporate, the Nationals are corporate, other teams are corporate. But as long as a dominating, colorful personality such as George Steinbrenner runs the club, the Yankees are the antithesis of a corporate ball club (except when CBS ran the club).

After all, do you think any efficiently-run, cold-hearted, layers-of-hierarchy, corporate enterprise would have allowed (or cultivated) the hot-blooded, passionate Tampa/New York split that caused so many problems within the Yankees organization over the past few years?