Does Yankees' 'Bronx Zoo' Atmosphere Show Nothing Has Changed Since George?

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterJune 28, 2013

Only one player on the current Yankees would have "fit in" with the Bronx Zoo-era teams. Care to guess who?
Only one player on the current Yankees would have "fit in" with the Bronx Zoo-era teams. Care to guess who?Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Yankees have been in the news lately. Just a bit.

And not for good reasons.

While the team itself has been struggling along after getting off to a 30-18 start through late May—the Yanks are just 12-18 since—there's been plenty of commotion elsewhere.

And really, it's all thanks to one man.

Alex Rodriguez.

But then, it takes two to tango, or so they say.

It all started with that whole doctor-cleared-me-to-play-so-I'll-tweet-about-it episode earlier in the week that proved how A-Rod is incapable of not being a lightning rod, as fellow Bleacher Report MLB Lead Writer Zach Rymer so deftly pointed out.

What followed, though, is when things started to get interesting, in a soap opera kind of way: General manager Brian Cashman's cursory—and curse-worthy—reaction, when he simply told Andrew Marchand of "Alex should just shut the f--- up."

Cashman soon thereafter issued a sort-of apology for calling A-Rod out, but only after the GM, the player and Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner hashed it out first.

It all felt a little reminiscent of the Bronx Zoo-era Yankees from the late 1970s.

Back then, of course, the two Yankees at the center of the power struggle were also a star player and a member of management, while a Steinbrenner was in charge.

Back then, it was former MVP and multi-time All-Star outfielder Reggie Jackson and volatile, short-tempered manager Billy Martin who both had to answer to owner George Steinbrenner.

So there are certainly similarities between the two pairs of controversial characters.

Except what's going on in 2013 is different than the 1977-78 years. In many ways.

First and foremost, Cashman is no Martin. The longtime Yankees GM is one of the more soft-spoken, calculated men in the game. Part of the reason he's lasted in his position since 1998 is because, incidentally, he is the opposite of what he did this week.

Same goes for Hal Steinbrenner, George's younger son, who enjoys staying out of the spotlight about as much as George craved it.

There's also the fact that the Yankees teams from 1977-78 couldn't be any further apart on the spectrum from the current version.

For one thing, in addition to the straw-that-stirs-the-drink Jackson, the Bronx Zoo clubs were full of strong, colorful and crotchety—and all-around entertaining—personalities, like Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers, Sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage.

The 2013 Yankees, complete with vanilla vets like Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Chris Stewart as well as never-heard-of-thems like Austin Romine, David Adams and Adam Warren, might be the most milquetoast team in baseball.

For another thing, the 77-78 squads were, well, good. Like back-to-back World Series-winning good.

The 2013 Yanks, in all likelihood, are going to be lucky to even make the playoffs, given all the recent struggles due to a never-ending line of injuries to their better players.

So, although this year's team has been making plenty of news recently, some of it that might even classify as Bronx Zoo-like, the circumstances are rather different.

The 1977-78 New York Yankees were known as the Bronx Zoo because there was a need, on occasion, to keep the melting pot of personalities confined.

The 2013 Yankees, on the other hand, only need to worry about caging one man.