David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
BALTIMORE - The Yankees, a team known for its composure and professionalism under fire, lost it big-time late Saturday night at Camden Yards.
And we're not talking about the game against the Orioles.
It's what happened afterward that provided some insight into the depth of the frustration this club is dealing with right now -- from Joe Girardi having to be separated from a reporter in the manager's office (by members of his own coaching staff) to Mark Teixeira, deservedly so, blasting the umpiring crew for not one but two bad calls that involved him, the second of which decided the 5-4 loss.
For a few seconds, the Yankees' clubhouse slipped into chaos as players gravitated toward Girardi's office, wondering what the yelling was about.
But when he asked to speak to a reporter privately in his office afterward, the heated argument got out of hand, and that's when a few coaches, as well as the team's own security, stepped in to stop it.
This was the second eruption from Girardi in 17 days, with the first coming in the bowels of U.S. Cellular Field, directed at a heckler, after the Yankees were swept by the White Sox.
But as soon as order was restored Saturday night in the manager's office, it was Teixeira's turn, and the first baseman pulled no punches while standing at his locker. Before he even began ripping the umpires, he asked if he could be fined twice if he repeated the same offensive language. There would be no restraint.
"Sometimes you wonder if the umpires are just trying to get out of there," said Teixeira, who probably could have saved himself some time by writing out a check to the Commissioner's Office as he spoke. "They don't want you to make a comeback. They want to go home because those were terrible calls."
Teixeira was angry and annoyed, and his aching left calf -- which had just sidelined him for 10 games -- was hurting like heck. But he also was 100 percent correct. Many calls can be dissected, seen from different angles, and still be inconclusive. But this was not one of them.
When Teixeira grounded to Robert Andino, he pushed his sore calf to the breaking point, trying to stay out of a double play in the hope that pinch runner Chris Dickerson would score the tying run and the game would be extended. In truth, and after close examination of the replay, that's exactly what Teixeira did.
J.J. Hardy's relay throw to first base was on target, but the diving Teixeira -- he felt he couldn't run through the bag because of his leg -- beat it easily. In a freeze-frame replay, Teixeira's midsection is across the base and the ball is nearly four feet from the glove of Mark Reynolds.
Reynolds looked back at umpire Jerry Meals, as did Teixeira from the ground, and Meals signaled out. An infuriated Teixeira took his helmet in his hands and shoved it to the ground.
"I'm pretty sure the game was televised," Teixeira said. "Everyone saw what it was. It's a terrible call.
"It wasn't even that close. That's what's disappointing. We're out here battling. We're scratching and clawing for every win and it wasn't close. I'm not one to really complain about calls, but that was bad."
Forget what you once knew about the Yankees -- or thought you did. Listen to Teixeira. This is a team fighting for its playoff life right now, and there's no pretending otherwise. The veneer of confidence has been stripped away and a trip to the postseason no longer feels inevitable, as it did a few short weeks ago.
The Yankees have backed themselves into a corner, and late Saturday night, they lashed out in every direction.
Starting Sunday, they need to refocus that fury back on the Orioles if order is to be restored.