Yankee Philosophy: First Skee-Ball, Then The World - NBC New York

Yankee Philosophy: First Skee-Ball, Then The World

Off-field fun in advance of on-field defense



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    Forget Disney World, they're going to the arcade.

    The Yankees play their first game of the exhibition season on Wednesday afternoon so naturally they spent Tuesday fine-tuning their skills so that they were sharp as their title defense got underway. Like any team that means covering first base, hitting the cutoff man and nailing the center hole on the skee-ball track. Huh? 

    Joe Girardi actually gave his Bombers the day off to hit a local arcade in a second annual team building trip disguised as something teenagers might do when they cut school for a day. In 2009 it was billiards and this year it was contests of skee-ball, pop-a-shot and video game car racing. That means they'll win the World Series in five games this year! 

    A lot of people can overstate or understate the importance of these trips. Obviously it isn't why the Yankees won the World Series last year, otherwise every team would be in pool halls this spring, but it's a pretty nice thing to do with a group of guys who might not know each other very well. The Yankee teams of the 2000's, for the most part, seemed like 25 ships passing in the night and that would seem like something that could only contribute to the grind of a long season.

    It can't hurt, in other words, so why not give it a try? As they say, once you've played whack-a-mole with someone, you'll bleed with them. 

    Or something. Mostly the trip is fun because it generates stories like this one. Curtis Granderson reveals that pitching isn't the only place where Kei Igawa comes up a little short. 

    "He kept racing up against the wall and damaging his tires. He wouldn't move off of it," Granderson said. "He had his left hand on the wheel and he was just cruising like nothing was wrong. He was doing that for a good three minutes. Everyone was shouting, 'Turn left! Turn left!'" 

    We'll close by hoping that none of the Yankee veterans went broke trying to set a high score on the love tester -- we're looking at you, A-Rod -- because they have to pony up $10,000. It seems that three members of last year's team received playoff shares that were short and anyone who received a full share of $365,052 has to give some of it back. We don't know which players were shorted, but we'd be disappointed if it wasn't Angel Berroa.  

    At any rate, it's back to the games that matter on Wednesday and preliminary planning for next year's bowling tournament starts on Thursday.  

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.