Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Yankees - You Have to Hate Them

A few people have taken me to task in the past for two positions they regard as incompatible: hatred of the Yankees and a love for free markets. The Yanks are the ultimate capitalist dogs, they say – out there trying to maximize profits by buying themselves World Series after World Series. So the logic goes that I either must embrace the Yanks or recognize that the free market aint all that great.

But one can embrace the free market without endorsing the choices that people make within that market. Just as I can embrace freedom of the press and still consider Dan Rather an idiot. If what Steinbrenner is doing by paying outrageous sums of money and outspending his competition maximizes profits, then by all means let him do it, but the fact that such actions might serve to maximize his profits speaks to the idiocy of baseball fans.

I should say up-front that over time I have become the biggest George Steinbrenner fan there is. We are always told how hard it is to work for Steinbrenner, how he is a really tough boss, a jerk, etc. etc. If I were a member of that team, and especially if I were Joe Torre, I’d rightly regard the guy as Santa Claus. Can you imagine the post-season meeting between these two last year:

Steinbrenner: “Gee, Joe, I guess I am kind of miffed – we spend $50 million more than anyone else on payroll and you guys can’t beat the Marlins?”

Torre: “Yeah, actually I wanted to talk to you about that. You really cannot expect to win with the line-up we have. What we need to do is, in this off-season, get a guy like Gary Sheffield, or maybe like A-Rod, or a Kevin Brown. You know, some guy who can take us over the top.”

Steinbrenner: “Well, Joe, I got to say, I didn’t really think that the problem was we didn’t have enough talent. But now that you mention it, I’ll get you all three of those guys for next year. How does that sound?”

If I were Steinbrenner, I’d be hiring John Edwards to sue the Yankee players and coaches for malpractice in the past three years (and hopefully this year). If you ask me, he is the only sympathetic character in the entire organization.

I blame the fans and the press, with more emphasis on the press. Most fans hate the Yankees, and rightly so, but oddly their hatred for the Yanks leads to the paradoxical result that a playoff series without the Yankees does not draw as many viewers. I am guilty of it too. We tune in because we want to see them go down, and it is great when they do.

But here is my problem with the press – when the Yanks don’t go down, they heap on the praise like it is an accomplishment for the Yanks to win the damn series. The press should be extremely partisan Yankee-haters. Stop talking about the heroics of player A, B, or C right on through the line-up when they pull out a late inning victory. Openly mock them when they lose, and when they win, talk about the team that their opponents could have put together with an equal budget. With the guns the Yanks have, none of what they do is all that noteworthy.

So here is my solution – boycott the Yankees as a fan until the press starts harangues against them before, during, and after every game. Make it so that these guys get booed wherever they go. Treat them like they are cheating, because in a way they are. The whole business model of a baseball franchise rests upon the plausibility of their competition; the Yankees would be of interest to no one if they chose to only play little league teams. They have stretched that plausibility as far as they can, capitalizing on the rich cable deal they derive from playing in the largest market. But ultimately it is the fans who decide whether they have stretched that plausibility too far, and so far we have not rebuked them.

Maybe we just like to see them get there every year just to lose. I know I do. Red Sox in six! You heard it here first. And of course I just added to the Red Sox curse.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Yankees lose this year because of pitching. I think over a 7 game series the weakness of their starters (I mean, name a Yankee pitcher after Mussina, and Kevin Brown does not count. There's a good chance his arm might fly off the next time he throws a pitch). They would have been better off getting Schilling in the offseason or working out a trade for the Big Unit than getting A-Rod. Maybe Steinbrennner should have broken the rules and bought Johann Santana after the Bombers eliminated the Twins, now that would have been something!

I don't know if the Red Sox will win. The Yankees have this year's demeaning slogan award wrapped up. "Who's Your Daddy"? That may be too much to overcome.

I say the Cards win in the WS putting to rest the Don Denkinger '85 fiasco.

Matt the Greek

9:06 AM  

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