Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

December 12, 2005

You Don't Have To Go Home, But You Can't Stay Here
by Larry Mahnken

Phil Allard wrote an article the other day about Bernie Williams at
Don’t come back.


Let us all remember you the way you should be remembered…

As a champion.
Unfortunately, the opportunity for that passed in 2000, when Bernie was last a champion, and the opportunity to leave at the top of his game passed in 2002, when his defense had already declined to putrid levels, but his offense still made him one of the top CFs in the game. The Bernie Williams we know and love died in May of 2003, when he suffered a knee injury -- IIRC, from running into a wall making a nice catch, but don't quote me on that -- which he then had to have surgery on. He never bounced back from that surgery.

Bernie was in an 0-21 slide when he left the team to have surgery, before that point, his batting line for 2003 was .325/.439/.519 -- a great line, period, a fantastic line for a player with a reputation of starting slow.

At that point, his career batting line was .308/.393/.499, since it has been .251/.339/.393 (in 1337 ABs, which you either find awesome or don't get at all -- but it basically goes to show he's no longer an elite player...). Clearly, he's lost a lot since that injury, declining to the point where he'd only be useful if he had an defensive value in center. Which he doesn't.

I love Bernie Williams, at least as much as a heterosexual man can love another heterosexual man he's only seen on television and a couple of times from a few hundred feet away with several thousand other people in a baseball stadium. I don't want to see him playing poorly, I don't want to see him playing for another team.

But I also don't want to see him playing for the Yankees, he no longer has any value to them, and while loyalty is a very nice thing, it's something that's best cast aside in baseball. The point is to win games, not be nice to your friends, and Bernie Williams can't help the Yankees win games. He needs to go.

But who am I, or anyone else, particularly Phil Allard, to tell him to hang it up? No, Bernie is not a very good baseball player any more, but there are dozens, maybe hundreds of professional ballplayers who aren't good enough to keep playing in the majors, and they keep it up. It's not for money, or pride, or because someone talks them into it, it's because it's baseball, and who in their right mind would willingly walk away from that?

These guys don't owe us anything. They don't owe it to us to leave a special memory of them at their peak, they don't owe it to us to stop playing when they're no longer helping the team. They owe nothing to anyone but themselves, and if they want to keep playing, and someone wants to keep playing them, then that's their right.

I was surprised that the Yankees offered Bernie arbitration, particularly because he likely agreed beforehand to turn it down, and it also likely means that no team will sign him now. It probably means he wants to either come back to New York or retire, and as much as I love him, I'd prefer if he retired. But if he comes back, and Joe sticks him in center more often than he should (which would be any more than zero times), that's not his fault, it's Joe's. It's not his fault for re-signing, it's the Yankees' fault for re-signing him. It's not his fault for sucking, it's Kevin Gilligan's fault for calling it, and Jason Giambi's fault for not hooking him up with those steroids he wasn't using anymore. Okay, those last two were a joke, but it's not his fault if he sucks.

Bernie, I love you, but I'm gonna be conflicted if you come back next year. It'd be a whole lot easier on me if you retired, but that's just how I feel. I'll always remember the homers off of Myers and Beck, the '95 and '96 Division Series' and the decade of greatness you gave us. I'll always remember the quiet kid with big glasses who seemed too skinny to ever hit a ball over the outfield wall, and the superstar he became. Nothing you ever do will tarnish those memories in any way. But there are no more great moments to be had, and that makes me sad.