Yesterday the New York Yankees baseball club were defeated by my hometown team, the Seattle Mariners, 10-3. I'd take more satisfaction out of this if the Yankees hadn't won 12 of their last 14 games, including a four-game sweep of the Red Sox that more or less wrapped up the division title. In the past few years, the Yankees' seasons are falling into a pattern: there are some early struggles partly due to injuries, the media questions the ability of whatever high-priced superstar George Steinbrenner signed in the offseason, the team languishes in second until after the All-Star break--then the Yanks realize there's a baseball season in progress and start ripping other teams apart, not just winning games but winning them by four or five runs apiece.
And all across the country, millions of baseball fans think the same thing: "The fucking Yankees! They're doing it again! Smug fucking bastards! I'd like to go over to Derek Jeter's penthouse, strap him into a chair and force him to drink a gallon of his piss-scented perfume!" At least, that's what I'm thinking. But why do the Yankees get so much hate? And do they deserve it?
I'll answer the second question first: yes, of course they deserve it. There's a reason every baseball movie ever made casts the Yankees as the villains (except Pride of the Yankees, which is a movie about a famous person getting sick). They're never the underdogs, they're always the favorites. They're the kids from the rich kids' camp who love to torment the ragtag band of misfits. They're Judge Smalls in Caddyshack, Apollo Creed in Rocky, the Empire in Star Wars.
The Yankees represent everything that's wrong with America--the smug self-satisfaction, the sense of entitlement, the assumption that everything can be bought, the corporatization of what should be an idle game. Yankee fans love to talk about "class," as in "That Jeter is one class act," but that's exactly what I hate about them--I don't want my baseball players to have "class." I don't want them to be polished and have carefully crafted personas they present to the fans. I want baseball players who are ugly, who are allowed to have beards and long hair and don't give a shit about "class," whatever the fuck that is. I like baseball players who aren't afraid to tell stories about crapping their pants in a casino.
Too bad for me, then. Because the Yankees' version of sports--self-serious, carefully crafted, and ultimately soulless--has spread not only around baseball but to other sports as well. Remember when Josh Howard got in trouble for talking, talking, about smoking weed? Or when Randy Moss was fined for pretending, pretending, to moon the crowd at Green Bay? And there was that time 17 Vikings players had an orgy on a boat, which was dealt with by the NFL as if they had burned down an orphanage when all they really did was have the best party of the year.
The Yankees can't be entirely blamed for the scardey-cat, pussy-whipped state of professional athletics in America, but they sure as hell don't help things. They've built extremely successful teams that always talk and do the "right" things, especially in front of the media, other teams have copied them, and somewhere along the way we forgot that sports are supposed to be fun. They're hitting balls with sticks, not curing Lou Gehrig's disease.
As a final demonstration on why the Yankees suck, here's a quote from Derek Jeter, who became the all-time hits leader among shortstops in last night's game:
"I just try to be consistent year in and year out, because if you're consistent, good things happen. Being consistent is something that gets overlooked at times, but every player strives to be consistent."
Too bad more players don't strive to sound like interesting human beings with a sense of humor. I guess not only are pinstripes slimming, they're dulling as well.