There is a reason the Yankees keep bending and twisting their roster year to year to keep Brett Gardner on the team, even if he’s only 85 percent the player he used to be. From the start, he has been a teammate’s teammate, a pro’s pro, a guy other players look to for guidance and leadership.
And, damn, he plays the game hard.
It is why you must take him at his word when he tells you that however it may look to the outside, his recently acquired habit of banging dugout ceilings with his bat is not intended to show up umpires, to call umpires out, to embarrass them, to infuriate them.
“On a daily basis,” Gardner said, “I do things to get our guys fired up.”
This was half an hour after the Yankees’ latest statement victory, a 6-5 squeaker over the Indians, a second straight one-run win over a team they may well see again come October. In the sixth inning, the baseball had been replaced by a bizarre burlesque show, into which Gardner became — unwittingly, he swears — one of the featured acts.
Home-plate umpire Ben May — a minor league call-up — called Cameron Maybin out on strikes on a pitch that looked a little wide of the strike zone. May heard some grumblings from the Yankees dugout. Aaron Boone sprinted out for a word, soon he was ejected — and he got his money’s worth — and the crowd of 47,347 ate it up because one thing never changes about baseball: fans love to see managers lose their minds screaming at umpires.
That should’ve been it.