Monday, August 17, 2009

Why the Yankees Suck

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.


  1. I agree entirely. (Although I think it's Hank Steinbrenner whose got the reins now, not George.) I was at the game yesterday, and boy was it fun to watch the likes of Josh Wilson and Doug Fister beat up on those vaunted pinstripes. Now if only the M's could string a few wins together, maybe they could make a run for the wildcard...

  2. All this may be true but if you live in New York, which you do now but only for a few years, you might cheer like me well I say, "Oh yeah, oh yeah!!" Of course I have not thought about it as much as you...I just love the winning, the handsome men, and the fact that they are on tv every night on the YES network. If I had really thought a lot about it when I first moved to NY I might have cheered for the Mets, but all I knew is that it was the team that Andy and Nora cheered for and that was enough for me. Remember Harry, bloom where you are planted!

  3. No offense, Caithleen, but we don't need your kind. The bandwagon epidemic started in Boston (first known case appearing around October of 2004) and proliferated across the eastern seaboard.

    Harry, you totally have the right and reason to hate the Yankees. They spend a shitload of money and project a holier-than-thou attitude. I get that. And if you look at it that way, they are a metaphor for the commercialization and sterilization of America. But as you wrote yourself in your post, it's just a game, and it's silly to find a higher meaning in it.

    As a Yankee fan, I'll respect your decision to hate my team and tell you why I don't. It's not just about the winning or the handsome men, though admittedly there hasn't been a shortage of either. It's because I know that my owners care about the fans and the game and not just about the bottom line. Sure, the Yankees are a billion-dollar money-making machine, and the revenues since the debut of the YES Network have been off the charts. But it's nice to know that my owner puts most of what he makes back into the team to do whatever he can to ensure success. And, as a fan, isn't that all you can really want and expect from your owner? The Steinbrenners could very well pull a David Glass and pocket their profits, but they choose not to--they in fact lost money in 2007. To contrast, in the same year the Royals received more money from the Yankees alone in luxury tax than they spent on their entire roster. Let that sit with you for a bit and then come and tell me how evil it is to spend recklessly on your team. Hey, I would much rather the dollars from my ticket and jersey purchases go toward signing Mark Teixera instead of outfitting the owner with a new Maserati.

    So to conclude, hate the Yankees all you want, you have the right and the reason. But for me and the millions of Yankee fans out there, we can take comfort in the fact that in such an unpredictable game as baseball, our owners do the most with what they can actually control. They see the team as more than just an investment. Perhaps this is what they mean by "class."