- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2003

Yankee Pressure. They should coin the phrase, make it part of some sort of psychological lexicon. It should be a way to describe a debilitating condition, where concepts like forgiveness and human frailties do not exist.

They could also call it Steinbrenner syndrome.

It’s easy to recognize. You’ll be able to see it in Jeff Weaver’s eyes from now on after he gave up that game-winning home run to Alex Gonzalez in the 12th inning of Game4 on Wednesday night. He could have pitched for the Detroit Tigers, his old team, for years and lost 18, 19, 20 games a season and never have the look he will now have after giving up one stinking home run as a Yankee.

In Bossland, there is no mercy.

“When you work for George Steinbrenner, there’s no room for second place,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “If, in a Game7, a one-run lead doesn’t hold up, it’s a failure. … The one thing we continue to tell players about, the new ones that come on board, is that we get excited about winning certain stages. But it’s really not validated until we win everything.”

Of course, they tell this to the players after they come here. It’s not like it’s printed on any welcome brochures for new guys or anything like that. I’m sure that while it is no secret that there is pressure in New York like nowhere else, it doesn’t hit home until you give up that extra inning home run in the World Series on the night that Roger Clemens is pitching the last game of his career.

They don’t have that kind of pressure in South Florida, where the Marlins have the personality of their wise-cracking 72-year-old manger, Jack McKeon, who said he told his players after losing Game3, “Come out tomorrow and have fun.”

They don’t have that kind of pressure in Oakland, where Weaver stopped briefly in between Detroit and his trade to the Yankees in July of last year (in a deal that brought Ted Lilly to Oakland, as if Yankees fans needed another reason to hate Weaver).

Heck, the A’s can’t make it past the division series, and even blow leads, but everyone still gets a pass there — even Billy “Moneyball” Beane, because, hey, it’s Oakland, and people should be grateful they are even in a position to compete.

Not in Bossland. Yankee Pressure is unyielding, and it’s not only because of Steinbrenner syndrome. It is also the weight of Monument Park at Yankee Stadium, the icons who have worn the uniform before, and the successes they have had. There is no more greatest status in baseball, other than greatest living player, than the greatest living Yankee.

“You talk about the Babe Ruth and DiMaggios, Yogi Berra and Reggie, all of those players, like Whitey Ford,” Torre said. “I mean, we had the most championships of any professional team.”

None of this is news, the concept of Yankee Pressure. But when it manifests itself in human form — this time in the body of Jeff Weaver, the new Public Enemy No.1 in the hearts and minds of Yankees fans, particularly after he had the nerve to go 7-9 this year with a 5.99 ERA — it is worth revisiting.

Even when you come in after not pitching in 28 days and retire the side in order in your first inning, you are still the target of ire for giving up that leadoff 12th-inning home run to Gonzalez.

No mercy.

When Torre was asked about putting Weaver into the game when he did, the Yankees manager gave a telling answer: “I mean, if he’s not in the game there, he shouldn’t be on our roster.”

Say goodbye to Bossland, Jeff Weaver.

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