Yankees haters rejoice! Plus, a couple of long-ball hitters make their marks
By Jake Mintz
FOX Sports MLB Writer
Who had a good time in baseball last week?
Each Monday, we look at three people — fans, managers, players, cities, fan bases or mascots — who had a good time in the previous week in Major League Baseball.
What are we waiting for?
1. Everyone who is not a Yankees fan
Schadenfreude is defined as "enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others." It’s a simple concept. There are those in this life who we, as humans, do not like, do not get along with or see as deplorable people. When these folks are faced with hardship, there is a part of our brains that wells up with perverse yet understandable joy.
But I’m not a psychologist, I’m a baseball writer, so I would like to propose a new, baseball-specific adaptation of schadenfreude: Yankenfreude.
The New York Yankees are currently 5-10, the worst record in the American League. So far this season, they have lost two series each to the Jays and Rays, two of their biggest division rivals. Late in Friday night’s loss to Tampa, some Yankees fans, frustrated with the team’s lackadaisical performance and catastrophic defense, hurled baseballs onto the field of play.
Every starting pitcher on the team not named Gerrit Alan Cole has struggled. The infield defense has looked Little League-y. They have 16 home runs as a team, tied for 19th in baseball (only one ahead of the Orioles!).
They are, for all us non-Yankees fans out there, the sport’s most beautiful disaster.
Does this Yankenfreude come from a place of jealousy and inferiority related to the team’s 27 rings and dominant record of success? Absolutely! The Yankees are always so good! The fan base has a reason to feel superior: Their team usually is superior!
I wish my favorite team, the aforementioned Orioles, had 27 rings. But my mom is from Baltimore, and Jeffrey Maier is from the New York metropolitan area, and so it goes.
There’s no real joy, at least not for me, in seeing the specific humans on the Yankees fail. Most of them seem like perfectly nice people.
But they all wear pinstripes right now, so when they lose, I feel kinda good. Does this make me a small person? Maybe! Fandom is complicated.
What’s gonna happen to the Yankees next? Well, we’ve seen this movie before: They’ll probably figure their crap out. That’s just what happens. They’re the Yankees.
Does this team have legitimate concerns? Is their depth a real issue? Is the infield defense bad? Yes, yes and watch this Brendan Ryan highlight reel to cleanse your pallet:
But some of the non-Cole pitchers will get better, and the bullpen will get healthy. DJ LeMahieu, the baseball robot, will continue his robotics. Everyone on this team who has been good in the past will probably be good again. The scales of the baseball universe will tip back the Yankees' way, and balance will be restored.
For us non-Yankees fans, now is the time to relish the dysfunction. We are pigs, and the Yankees at 5-10 on April 19th is our slop.
Bathe in the glorious silence emanating from the loudest Yankees fan you know.
Let all that frustration wash over you. Let it cleanse your soul.
For the clock, as always, is ticking. The Yankees will soon be good again. An AL East title or at least a wild-card spot is surely on the horizon. The baseball season is a marathon that more often than not runs through the Bronx.
But for now, cherish the moment. Open up the American League standings, scroll to the bottom, and let the Yankenfreude fill your heart with joy.
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2. Adam Duvall
Last season, Adam Duvall was pretty good for the Atlanta Braves, a team that finished one game shy of the World Series. But in the offseason, Duvall was non-tendered by the Braves. The team could have but chose not to offer the outfielder a contract.
Duvall ended up latching on with the Marlins, and last week, he had an absolutely smashing time against Atlanta. He completely obliterated his old employer, going 7-for-14 with three homers and nine RBIs in the four-game set.
That has to be incredibly satisfying. Baseball players will conjure half-baked reasons to put chips on their shoulders. They’ll look for any way to bring an extra bit of intensity into a matchup.
Duvall had to do no such conjuring. The Braves had him on the roster, and they were like, nah, we’re good.
So he took his talents to South Beach and then showed those talents to the Braves' pitching staff by sending some baseballs over the fence. Pretty great.
Duvall and his Fish friends face off against Atlanta 15 more times this season, so he'll have plenty more chances for sweet revenge.
3. Sean Kazmar
What would you do for a single MLB plate appearance? Sean Kazmar did a whole lot of waiting, a whole lot of bus rides, a whole lot of hoping and dreaming.
On August 13, 2008, Kazmar made his MLB debut for the San Diego Padres. He played in 19 games that year, going 8-for-39. At the end of the season, he went back to Triple-A and never returned to the bigs for the Padres.
Kazmar continued to not return to the bigs, year after year after year. Between 2009 and 2019, the journeyman infielder played 10 seasons in Triple-A without a taste of the majors. The last seven of those seasons, Kazmar toiled away in Gwinnett, Georgia, home of the Braves' Triple-A squad.
Kazmar and the Braves got into a nice rhythm. Each year, he’d come to spring training, teach some younger guys, be a good dude and then head to Gwinnett for the year to be a dependable organizational player but nothing more.
But when Ozzie Albies had to leave the game Friday after being hit by a pitch, Kazmar got the call he’d been waiting a decade for: He was heading back to the majors.
Saturday afternoon at Wrigley, a mind-boggling 4,630 days after his MLB debut, Kazmar suited up for the Braves and got into the game as a pinch hitter.
He won’t tip the playoff scales or change the course of Atlanta’s season. He’ll probably head back down to Triple-A soon.
But Kazmar went to sleep Saturday evening a fulfilled and happy man, with another MLB plate appearance to his name. That’s more than most of us could ever say.
Jake Mintz is the louder half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball analyst for FOX Sports. He’s an Orioles fan living in New York City, and thus, he leads a lonely existence most Octobers. If he’s not watching baseball, he’s almost certainly riding his bike. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Mintz.