Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Damn (classy) Yankees

Soxblog is bothered by how gracious and classy the Yankees were yesterday:
. . . the Yanks were annoyingly classy. There was no reason they had to observe the entire ceremony, and their opting to do so reflected positively on the entire Yankee organization. In saner moments, I’ve admitted that Derek Jeter is a class act and that Joe Torre is one of the great sportsmen of our era. Thank god the Yankees have A-Rod and Steinbrenner. If not for them, the Yankees might actually be difficult to hate.

What soxblog doesn't understand is that it is their wholesome good manners which makes this group of Yankees so insidious. Tom Boswell captured this terror back in a classic Washington Post column in March of 2000:
Some trends in society are so dangerous they must be nipped in the bud. Like the New York Yankees.

Remember, they did this before. Let them win a few pennants and you can never get rid of them. Generations later, fans are still asking, "Where was Congress?"

Sure, everybody thought it was so much fun when Babe Ruth came to the Yankees and helped them win the pennant in 1921, 1922 and 1923. Why, the Yanks even let the Washington Senators--already established as "first in war, first in peace and last in the American League"--go to the World Series in 1924 and 1925. What greater proof of civic-mindedness could there be?

Where was the danger? The Babe was about as threatening as El Duque. What's not to like? Big guy, loves orphans, likes to eat. Same deal now. How do you root against a man who defected from Cuba in a fishing boat? Bernie Williams plays classical guitar. Derek Jeter loves his mom. Joe Torre rubs Don Zimmer's head for luck. Paul O'Neill plays in the World Series on the day his dad dies.

It's all a trick. The teamwork, the camaraderie, the compassion for Darryl Strawberry's flawed humanity, the perfect unselfish baseball played with precision and pride. Don't believe it for a second. I've been there. I've lived it. I know where all this "tolerate the Yankees" can lead. It's a primrose path to perdition. . . .

Granted, these are difficult days for Yankee Hatred. We must force ourselves to look past the four superb starting pitchers, the immaculate closer Mariano Rivera and the 743 middle relievers who are all better than anybody the Orioles have.

It's also brutal to watch as one potential Yankee controversy after another dissolves into geniality and disgusting bonhomie. Jeter wants a six-year contract. Settles for one year for $ 10 million. Raw deal, right, dude? Derek says, "No problem." Rivera loses his arbitration case--and $ 2 million. Instead of being angry, he says he won his case last year. It evens out. Tino Martinez even okays a contingency that lets the Yankees dump him if they think he's washed up. Hey, if that's what's best for the ballclub. . . .

Yes, this could be a long tough summer for hatred. At times, you'll feel lonely. Total strangers will volunteer that Joe Torre is "such a teddy bear" and David Cone "is so witty and sophisticated." Remind them to be wary. This is just the narrow end of the Yankee wedge. Give them an inch of respect and they'll end up your favorite team. You'll learn to love foul balls and four-hour games. "Oh, look, the Yankees are wearing out another starting pitcher. What bat control. They're such artists."

Fill your ears with wax. Tie yourself to the mast. Look away from the sirens. It always starts this way. But we all know how it ends. Someday, before you know it, you've gained 50 pounds, your IQ has been cut in half, you've got a 32-ounce beer in each hand, you're sitting above the visitors bullpen in Yankee Stadium and, veins bulging, you're screaming, "Red Sox stink." Over and over 'til you pass out.

Never forget, it can happen to you. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Or something like that.

I bow down before the Bos.


That Dude said...

Sheffield isn't exactly likeable either.

Go Phillies!

Anonymous said...

A perfect example of the Yankee's magnanimity is John Sterling, part of the Yankees radio broadcast team. He is so complimentary of the Yankees opponent du jour that sometimes I think he is broadcasting for the other team.
But it works. When the Yankees win, the organization comes off not as the rich spoiled brat of MLB, but as gracious and humble. And when they lose, you practically expect it given how fawning Sterling has been of the other team.

It makes it hard to hate them, although I still do.

Go Cubs!

Anonymous said...

Hey, isn't Galley Wife S.L. a Yankee fan? Must be fun at your house around playoff time. : )

Anonymous said...

"Red Sox Nation" is a group of Oprahfied victims, looking for someone to blame for their team's shortcomings. Now that they've won, the leering, creepy desire to stick it in the face of the "Empire" is predictably pathetic.

Jason O.

Jay D. Homnick said...

As a Miamian who willingly handed over the Marlins’ championship to the Sox last year, this is what I wrote on the night that they won the Series:

Is it all right to cry? Is it permitted to shed a tear of joy and relief for the Boston Red Sox emerging triumphant after eighty-six years of torment? Is it acceptable for a kid who grew up in New York and has lived in Chicago and Cincinnati and now Miami?
Or have I not paid my dues? Is it necessary to brandish some stigmata? Do I need to show ten years of Prozac prescriptions? Bags under my eyes deep enough to carry all the pain in the world? Razor scars on my wrists from a certain 1986 accident that we won’t discuss?
Does there have to be a seat in O’Malley’s Bar that I have worn down to the springs? A groove on the bar counter where I have laid my head after a thousand bitter losses? A crack on the side of the pinball machine where I kicked it eighteen years ago? A dartboard with the picture of Bill Buckner that has been shredded by a million angry punctures?
Can’t I just be a guy who wants to feel that the little guy has a chance, however slender, in a world rigged in favor of Mister Big? Can’t I be a guy who wants to see hope trump advantage? To see the dream outdistance privilege? Can’t I pray for a world where no one ever has to give up until the first spadeful of earth falls on the casket?
Is there no room in your celebration for a kid who came home from school one day at age ten and saw ambulances in front of his house? For a boy whose Dad had to tell him that his Mom had died suddenly and we were on our own? A lad who spent his teenage years living mostly with his Grandma and roaming the streets of the big city?
Got no place for a kid who dreamed of becoming a famous writer? Who sat long nights typing awful mystery stories and sending them to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine to be rejected? Who snuck into movie theaters after the ushers had vacated the hallways and was convinced that he could write one of those someday?
What about a young man who became something of a ghost writer? Who feared the glare of the public eye and plied his craft in lengthening shadows? Who watched his diffident words fly under the banner of names with more courage than talent? And who now has emerged, even as you have, to a touchingly warm welcome?
Is there an opening for a son who has been too often prodigal? For a brother who can’t control his remoteness? A friend who is too aloof? A lover who has been too cold? An arguer who has been too hot? A father who has been by turns too strict and too lenient and too neutral?
Isn’t your joy a universal place that the lonely and needy may enter? Isn’t your victory a shot in humanity’s arm? Haven’t you been carving out paths to achievement and ecstasy for the disenfranchised? Aren’t you picking up all the lonely and battered hearts and restoring them to health? Aren’t those hefty doses of confidence that you are distributing with an open hand?
Didn’t you go to the very brink in the ninth inning of Game Four against the Yankees? Didn’t you meet the bogeyman face to face and stare him down? Didn’t you claw and scratch and scrabble your way back, first to contention and then to championship? Haven’t you done what no baseball team had ever done before, eclipsing a three game to zero deficit in a best-of-seven series?
Have you not thrown off the suffocating embrace of a hostile Fate? Aren’t you providing a model for people and teams who are a heartbeat from total humiliation? Showing that patience and fortitude and hard work can eventually undo all the real and imagined curses? That under a cobweb or two there might be a fresh burst of energy? That past can stop being prologue and just become flashback?
Did we not come to love you for being spunky and indomitable? Did we not bleed every time we saw Curt Schilling’s “Red Sox” red with blood? Did we not grin every time David Ortiz launched a missile over the wall? Didn’t you hear my grunt when the umpire called a ball to us and my groan when he called a strike?
Can’t I order a portion of what it is you got? Are you too embarrassed to let me hold your hand for a minute? Do you have a seat for me on the team bus? Can you give me a hand up so I can share the view from the mountaintop? Can I wish you well for next year?
Can I shudder with your remembered pain? Can I tingle with your newfound ecstasy? Can I promise to keep climbing the ladder? Is it all right to laugh? Is it all right to cry?