Your pal Coachie here. Those who know me know that I hate the Yankees. Yet, the Yankee fans that I know, the MZA, NedStarr, Seamus and Don Bigdoodo amongst others, are all rational, even-tempered, unoffensive and genuine baseball fans. Their fandom is not in your face, in short they are the exact opposite of the kind of fan the song "Yan-kees, How Ya Doin?" was written for and appeals to. Deep down, I know most longtime Yankee fans are not assholes. Moreover, the young fans who do indeed ask, How Ya Doin?, I mean, can you blame them? Those yougsters cannot remember a time when the Yankees were not a World Series contender. In short, I still hate the Yankees. But here is the Big Dood to shed some light on what the "quiet majority," as Nixon would put it, feel at this time of year.
Any World Series featuring the Bronx Bombers presents a fantastic opportunity for run of the mill Yankee fans to crawl out the Teaneck woodwork, beat their barrel chests unrepentantly and thumb their collective noses at their Queens and Boston rivals. But for the more analytic, self conscious members of the old breed, the World Series is less a path to coronation and more a troubling reminder that we are closer to being damned for what we’ve done than damned for what we did not do.
This is the plight of the Yankee fan with a conscience. If we win, it was handed to us. If we lose, we dropped it.
Really Yankee fans, where’s the fun? We are all Edward the Longshanks. We command a mercenary force, remaking our one-time foes into temporary loyalists for a pittance of cold hard sterling – sending the likes of C.C. Sabathia, Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez, A.J. Burnett and Mark Texeira off to glory or death at the whims of our fleeting interest. I’ve probably hated half the members of the team at one point or another.
To be sure, the occasional rebel uprising gets the better of the advances of our empire, but what’s the difference? Ultimately the pin-striped tide laps all shores. We celebrate in bunches where other would be ascendants clamor for dew drops of glory a generation at a time.
By any rational measure, I would not ever root for this club. But reason has no business where baseball allegiance is concerned. As Yankee fans we have all inherited the throne of an empire that has spun far beyond our ability to comprehend it’s necessity, utility or appeal. Getting to think too much of it makes the head spin and when the pitches start flying and the bats start twirling we can only ignore the spectacle or join in cheer along with the great unwashed. Ultimately we are pushed to a decision. Shit or get off the pot. Pick a new team, quit enjoying baseball, or root for the team we’ve inherited.
I enjoy baseball and I can’t root for anyone but the Yankees. So what’s a fan with a conscience to do? I try to remember the dark days, when I lived in California in the early 90’s. I think back to my poor parents who would reluctantly drive me down to Anaheim stadium, where my heart would be broken by the likes of Dave Righetti, Don Slaught, Mike Pagliarulo, Elvaro Espinoza, Roberto Kelly, Andy Hawkins etc. When I cared most, my team was the worst, I tell myself. But I followed them like a religion anyway. There was no YES network then. No satellite TV. Just box scores in the morning paper. And every summer morning I would wake up early and wait to hear that paper hit the pavement in the driveway before running out to see if Yankees were possibly turning it around – perhaps chipping a game or two away at the lead held by the Red Sox or Blue Jays or whomever else was embarrassing them that particular year. When I think about those dark days, about being laughed at by kids my age wearing Dante Bichette jerseys, I don’t feel all that guilty… am not embarrassed by the riches.
If the Yankees take all the fun out of baseball for the rest of the league, I’m afraid you’ve got bad news coming.
The Phils are not winning this series. Their pitching is just not good enough. Chan Ho Park is not shutting down this lineup. Cole Hamels and Pedro are in trouble. Joe Blanton is as good as dead. Brad Lidge is another Joe Nathan waiting to be exposed.
Philly has a nice lineup – an ‘american league lineup’ as the media chorus would have it. But it’s not as deep as New York’s. The Yankees, 1-9, are a mechanized pitch drain. They don’t chase, they get into bullpens, and they abuse them.
It was bound to happen eventually – it was just a matter of time before the Yankees were actually able to buy the best team available and have all that talent show up at the same time. They are not swallowing expensive mistakes this year. No Jason Giambis, Randy Johnsons or Carl Pavanos. Just top flight players earning their checks for a change. It’s amazing it took 9 years for this simple-minded strategy to pay off, but here it is.
I think the series will be exciting but not as exiting as people hope. I see it going six games and being similar in tone to the ALCS.
Phillies will probably take one of the first two, maybe even the first, startling everyone and gearing us up for a seven game barn burner, but the Yankees will come back and take the first two games in Philly. The Phillies will send it back to NY but will unceremoniously crap out in game six and that will be it.
And something a little less acute than joy will wash over me. Maybe beer.