Whatever wink, wink, nod, nod, jab, jab agreement Andrew Benintendi has with the Yankees, his vaccination status wasn’t discussed in the trade talks that ended with him in pinstripes, if the verified tweeters are to be believed. Other verifieds are alleging that the left fielder is willing to get the routine shot — available to all ages and extremely helpful against COVID — for a winning team.
However, just two weeks ago after 10 Kansas City anti-vaxxers didn’t make the trip north of the border, Jon Heyman said New York had cooled on the former Royal specifically due to his lack of vaccination.
Well, what had happened was… the Yanks lost six of their past 10, including two two-game sweeps at the hands of the hated Astros and Mets, with each series featuring a walk-off loss. Wednesday’s dramatics were more of the same this month for a team that was on a 119-win pace before July happened.
At 10-12, New York needs a four-game sweep of Kansas City to avoid its first .500 or worse month this season. That’s entirely possible considering they just pilfered one of the Royals’ best bats, but whether they finish 14-12 or 10-16 this month isn’t the point. The point is there’s smoke coming from the Bronx, and the organization that likes to celebrate its all-vaccinated roster compromised on those standards pretty freaking quick once they could make out Jose Altuve’s shit-eating grin in the rearview.
With Houston hovering two to three games back since last week’s doubleheader, whatever was on ice between KC and New York thawed real quick. Yankee GM Brian Cashman kicked off the season by bitching about how there should be no World Series drought because Houston cheated in 2017, so you know he’s aware of their place in the standings and the Yanks’ 2-5 record against them. (He’s not wrong about 2017, he just sounds like a petulant child.)
The team was nearly 40 games above .500 (61-23) less than three weeks ago and under little pressure to do much more than bolster the rotation and get Joey Gallo as far away from the lineup as possible. The urgency is there now, and The Cashman can no longer stroll leisurely through the seller’s aisle in search of the best value. (The Yankees of my youth would’ve already acquired Juan Soto and signed him to a lifetime contract, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Ultimately, one last regular-season series in Toronto — where anti-vaxxers are currently not welcome — won’t matter, and neither will the potential postseason matchup with the Blue Jays, if Benintendi intends to get vaccinated. (Also, Andrew, what do you want, a fucking Congressional Medal of Honor for acting like a sane person?)
There’s a palpable yearning for a pro sports organization to get seriously burned on the biggest stage by a galaxy-brained ass clown. The Nets and Kyrie Irving came close, but if that crunchy lunatic can avoid his comeuppance, I’m pretty sure an anti-vaxxer isn’t going to seriously alter the outcome of a championship.
So I can scream all I want from my soapbox about accountability, hoping that karma, fate, or fortune favors the righteous, but we know how this plays out.
The real punishment for Benintendi’s bullshit would’ve been another few years laboring in the Missouri heat for a shitty team because no franchise was willing to suffer the headache for his .320/.387/.398 slash line. However, a couple of years into COVID, it’s idiotic to assume a pro sports organization is going to be the purveyor of social justice and prioritize the pandemic over winning.
Maybe if the Yankees were still scorching and lapping the competition they would’ve snubbed their nose at Benintendi. They’re not, and here we are, which is the same place we’ve been countless times in this fucking pandemic.