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Yankees Still Suck
Thomas Boswell is one of my favorite writers on baseball. I own his books, I read his columns eagerly, and he is one of the main reasons why subscribing to the Washington Post was a no-brainer for me. But occasionally he makes some ludicrous statements, and today he made a doozy [link unavailable]:
"For once, no one will begrudge New York its love of the all-powerful, indomitable Yankees. A nation of lifelong Yankee haters jubilantly joined Monday night with millions of New Yorkers to celebrate a great champion."
I am proud to call myself a lifelong Yankee hater. New York could easily support three or even more franchises, but baseball's territorial protections have safeguarded for the Yankees a cash flow (mostly based on ludicrous TV revenues) which most teams can only dream about. The Yankees use this cash flow to sign suspect Cuban defectees to lavish contracts without even needing to check them out (anyone hear lately from Adrian Hernandez?), to pay sums well beyond the reach of most teams to the most talented free agents, and to trade without considering the cost for the overpaid veteran hitter or starter they need for the push towards another stupefying championship.
When a team like Oakland, which the Yankees just defeated, has a home-grown star like Jason Giambi to sign in free agency, it's anyone's guess as to whether they can come up with the money. When the Yankees' players break down or become ineffective, they sign players like Jason Giambi. The Yankees have good players who are easy to respect, and that is why they win championships. But they have all those players only because the structure of baseball has given the Yankee franchise enough cash to acquire and retain them. How can anyone with a sense of justice root for that?
And, of course, the national media is centered in New York, and because dwelling in New York for a long period of time seems to make one incapable of perceiving anything that happens outside New York, they celebrate the Yankees' achievements with an enthusiasm and a credulity that border on the preposterous. No one outside the five boroughs watched last year's Subway Series between the Bronx Bombers and their counterparts in Queens, the Mets, but the New York media were just as endlessly fascinated by it as the rest of the country was thoroughly bored. And, as citizens of a media-driven nation, we sports fans had to endure endless bloviating about the Yankees' overwhelming greatness. Yet again.
Why would anyone want to watch the Yankees win another World Series, making it five out of the last six years that we would have to watch the pinstriped legion in a ticker-tape parade down Fifth Avenue? Or rather, that we would have to change the channel to avoid watching the parade?
Well, we are being told that we should root for the Yankees because New York needs something to rally around in the wake of the terrorist attacks. As Boswell puts it, "A town that needed a shot of adrenaline, a rallying cry - from the lowest rookie fireman up to the Yankee-worshipping captain - was down in the dumps." (Gee, perhaps Washington should finally be granted a baseball team, since we need something to rally around in the wake of the terrorist attacks too, and the Redskins suck and Jagr's injured and basketball hasn't started yet.) Obviously, the reasoning goes, a Yankee victory would provide an emotional stimulus to the recovery that the city could not manage on its own.
New York is a city full of industrious, talented people with strong character and civic pride. Based on my (admittedly brief) experience living in the city, I have absolute confidence that New Yorkers will make a recovery happen, with or without the emotional uplift provided by the success of twenty-five men paid ludicrous sums to play a child's game.
However, New York is also a city full of media professionals who can't see two feet past their own noses but who are looking desperately for something they can call a symbol and use as the subject of breathlessly sappy reportage. Guess which of these two groups is telling us that New York "needs" a Yankee victory? And now even commentators I respect, like Boswell, are spouting the media party line. Where will it end?
Ladies and gentlemen, this is America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. And I am both free enough and brave enough to say that I have never, will not now, and will never be "jubilant" at a Yankees victory. This pro-Yankees media hectoring needs to end, and it will end here.
Let the declaration ring out across the land: Now and forever, Yankees suck.
Seattle in six Lindemann
A NOTE ON THE WRITING OF THIS RANT
The vast majority of this was written immediately after I saw Boswell's article at 7 this am. I wrote about 750 words in 20 minutes. Then I realized that I had not yet eaten breakfast, brushed my teeth, made my lunch, or packed my backpack, and did all those things, and then needed to leave the house. When I came home, the first thing I did was edit for coherence and factual accuracy. But the majority of this is raw, unfiltered me. Thought you might want to know.
Well, Seattle did not win in six, but Arizona beat the Yankees in seven in one of the most dramatic World Series in baseball history. And New York seems to be rebuilding itself at the exact same pace it would have had the Yankees won, except that the city is currently obligated to build stadiums for the Yankees and Mets or allow the Yankees to move without notice to New Jersey and forfeit a bunch of advertising revenue to the Mets, thanks to a little-noticed edict by Rudy Giuliani on his way out of office. This is almost certainly bad for the city, and it just goes to show what a bad idea kowtowing to the Yankees is.
All this tasty writing ©2002-11 by Andrew Lindemann Malone. All rights reserved.