I write this post from deep inside Yankee territory, a scant few hours after the New York Yankees loss to the Detroit Tigers.
As an outsider, I am missing something. I grew up in that baseball culture that says the World Series goes to the team with the most heart. Talent and skill are so abundant and so well distributed in professional baseball that something more is called for. Big pay checks, and the indignation of the senior manager, how can this matter? (And what do we say about the game, the series, and the winner, when it does?) I thought the game belonged to a bunch of guys who find a moment of greatness, for whom the sum of team proves, sometimes inexplicably, greater than the whole of the team. (The Tigers fit the bill perfectly.)
The local airwaves are now filled with shouts of unhappiness from George Steinbrenner, a CEO so unconvincing, he makes Donald Trump look like presidential. Joe Torre, from whom every manager might learn something about patience and grace, is now for the high jump.
Yankee fans have never tasted misery. They know joy or they know anger. They don’t mourn an unsuccessful season, they fire someone. There is no such thing as fate for a Yankee fan. There is only a third base man hitting .172. Faced with anything less than a World Series, and the Yankees go out and spend more money on salaries…almost $1 billion dollars since the World Series win in 2000.
But the weirdest thing is the Yankee conviction that baseball is well served by Yankee triumph, that what rest of us really want is a Yankee win. I have my own humble thoughts on this notion, but let me defer to an expert on the game.
Admittedly, baseball has been the crucible for many of the most moronic ideas of the last 20 years – that contraction is necessary, that Washington DC doesn’t deserve a major league baseball team, that an unbalanced schedule has no effect on the wild card race, that players who don’t play on winning teams can’t be MVPs… I’ve even had people try to tell me that steroid use has no effect on baseball performance. It’s enough to question the value of a college education. But this contention – that New York deserves a super team because it’s in the best interest of baseball – is by far the most ridiculous and mind-numbingly ignorant I’ve heard. One has to go back to the Scopes trial to hear an argument with less validity.
Ok, I have to go. I think someone heard me.
Kepner, Tyler. 2006. For Yankees, October Has an Early End. New York Times. October 7, 2006. here.
Wood, Trace. 2004. Is YRod Good for the Game. The Long Ghandi. April 17, 2004. here.