. . . 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.