Yankees Suck postsFriday September 07, 2012
Sad Yankees Fan of the Day
In honor of the Yankees losing 10-6 to Baltimore last night and sole possession of first place in the AL East, here's your Sad Yankees Fan of the Day. Consider it the first in a series. Collect them all!
The shot is from “Four Days In October,” a one-hour documentary about the 2004 ALCS between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. It's one of ESPN.com's “30 for 30” documentaries. I watch it whenever I need to cheer up.
In case you don't know about that series: the Yankees were up three games to none and leading by a run in the bottom of the 9th inning in Game 4 with the greatest closer in baseball history, Mariano Rivera, on the mound. And then ... And then ...
No team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-7 series to even play Game 6. The Red Sox, after decades of humiliation at the hands of the Yankees, came back to play and win Game 7 and go to and win the World Series for the first time since 1918. It's not just the greatest upset in baseball history; it's, with apologies to Jesus, The Greatest Story Ever Told.
And it's currently streaming on Netflix.
OK, that was a mistake.
Yesterday I posted something nice about Derek Jeter, the man whose FOX-Sports-sponsored leaping and gamboling after another world championship haunted the dreams of every Yankee-hating son of a gun (my brethren) in the late 1990s. It was a first. Me saying something nice about Jeter.
And it led to this post on my Facebook page:
If any of you had someone on your team even a teeny bit remotely like Jeter you would be awash in sentimental plaudits. Face it - he is simply THE BEST!!! GO JETER!! GO YANKEES!
The apparent assumption in the above is that Jeter doesn't get enough attention; that, unlike this MLB poll from a few years ago, he's not the most overrated player in baseball but actually underrated.
There was a phrase I could feel in the back of my mind, forming, but I didn't wait for it to form. I simply responded with a kind of mild amusement under which something else percolated:
Well, in a ranking of career OPS, he's currently ranked 238th, tied with Harlond Clift, and 232 places away from Albert Pujols. But if you want to call that THE BEST, feel free.
That didn't stop it, of course. It escalated it. It led to a discussion of baseball being more than numbers, and how character matters, and how Jeter has character and is a leader, etc. Then this from the Yankees fan:
Because I am SO TIRED of Yankee haters waxing poetic about their own half baked players while viciously tearing down Jeter. I love baseball and any player who plays the game right. I don't respect the ones who don't no matter what team they play for. I grew up in NY and have been a Yankee fan since I was 9 years old. You know it's just jealousy, not rational baseball assessment.
At which point I should've taken a klonopin.
This was a discussion with someone who's never heard the phrase, “He'll look good in pinstripes.” This is someone who doesn't understand that the true finish to her sentence, “If any of you had someone on your team even a teeny bit remotely like Jeter...” is “...the Yankees would have taken him a long time ago.”
I kept returning to that redundant, under-the-top phrase ...even a teeny bit remotely like Jeter. I thought of Edgar Martinez, a career .300/.400/.500 with the Seattle Mariners who never made the cover of Sports Illustrated. I thought of underrated stars like Paul Konerko, Adrian Beltre, Billy Butler.
Even a teeny bit remotely like Jeter...
Mildly amused gone. Buttons pushed. Erik smash.
Thirty-three comments later, we ended it.
I ended it with the phrase I could feel forming in the back of my mind at the beginning of the conversation. It's what Crash Davis says to the player who stands and appreciates his homerun after being told what pitch is coming:
That was my feeling.
I give you a GIFT and you stand there and show up my Facebook page with your Yankee rantings? Run, dummy!
Elsewhere on FB, another Yankees fan, even before last night's 6-1 loss to Baltimore, was lamenting the state of the team. I checked the standings. They were in first place in the AL East but other teams were within spitting distance. They had the second-best record in the American League but just second best. That's a time of celebration for fans of most baseball teams but a time to lament if you're a Yankees fan. Yankee fans have what Louis C.K. refers to as “white people problems.” That's where your team is amazing so you make shit up to be upset about.
I call the Yankees and their fans the 1% of baseball and they are. As the rich have no clue what it means to be poor, Yankee fans have no clue what it means to be a fan of the Kansas City Royals, or Pittsburgh Pirates, or Seattle Mariners. To develop talent only to see it taken by the Yankees. To have no shot in June, or April, or during the off-season. To have no money, or hope, or banners. They don't realize that this is what we're saying when we say: Yankees Suck.
Where on the All-Time Hits List Will Derek Jeter Suck?
The following poll is on the Baseball Nation site in a Rob Neyer article, riffing off a Joshua Prager piece, entitled: “Does Derek Jeter Have Pete Rose in His Sights”?:
Where on the all-time hits list will Derek Jeter finish?
They left out a 7th option:
Of course, if he breaks Rose's record, this ticket will be worth so much more.
Your YANKEES SUCK Historical Moment of the Day
“As an outfielder with the Yankees in the 1930s [Ben] Chapman had made a specialty of baiting Jewish ballplayers, and he'd been in a huge brawl with one of them, Buddy Myer of the Senators.”
--from Jonathan Eig's “Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season,” pg. 76. Later Chapman became infamous as the race-baiting manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, who ordered his club to lob racial taunts and epithets at Jackie Robinson during a three-game series at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn in April 1947. It backfired. Some credit the Phillies' behavior with helping the Dodgers finally rally around Robinson. Eig suggests it also encouraged fans to get off the fence.
I knew all of this. But I didn't know Chapman had been a Yankee. I wonder if he was the “leather-lung” Hank Greenberg referred to in Aviva Kempner's documentary, “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg,” who was brought up to hurl insults at hm. I certainly didn't know, until I looked it up on BaseballReference.com, that Chapman had been a four-time All-Star, who retired with a .302/.383/.440 line. Apparently he also wore No.s 6 and 7 for the Yankees. I assume there was only one other guy to do that.
The New York Yankees are the 1%
I went to the Mariners game yesterday afternoon against the New York Yankees. It was the game after the game A-Rod got hit by a pitch from Felix Hernandez and broke a bone in his hand (out 6-8 weeks), and two games after Ichiro switched sides, and the teams were 1-1 in the series. For the year, of course, the Yankees were 58-39, the best record in baseball, while the M's were 43-56, the second-worst in the AL. The Yankees had a squad of All-Stars and future Hall of Famers: Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Ichiro, A-Rod, Curtis Granderson, Mark “Paul Fist-in-Your-Face” Teixeira, Eric Chavez. The M's? A Triple-A squad, basically, with some potential future stars. One of them, Justin Smoak, was now back in Triple-A after sinking below .200 again. Sinking below .200 is generally not cause for dismissal on the M's this year—see: Carp, Peguero, Figgins, Ryan, Kawasaki and Olivo—so it must mean the M's have hope for Smoak. They think he's still worth fixing.
Anyway, I went to the game without much hope. I assumed the Yankees, facing a Japanese pitcher, Iwakuma, with all of three game-starts under his belt, would pull out the rubber game.
It began poorly, too. I'm not talking Derek Jeter's homerun in the first inning to put the Yankees up 1-0. I'm talking about walking around before the game even began. Everywhere you looked you saw Yankee fans, dressed in their JETER jerseys, or their MANTLE jerseys, or their A-ROD jerseys (OK, just one of those.). They overwhelmed Safeco Field. They strutted around like they owned the place.
I went with my friend Andy and his family. Andy's from Bremerton, Wash., but now lives in Hanoi, Vietnam, and he's visiting family for the summer. He thought the Mariners were family, too, which is why we all went, but he came not knowing one player on the team. The Yankees he knew.
One of my favorite stories about Yankee Stadium comes from Andy. He went, fairly innocently, to an M's-Yankees game in the mid-1990s, back when there was a real rivalry between the teams, and sat in the right-field bleachers wearing a Mariners cap. As the game progressed, as the abuse that rained down on Mariners right-fielder Jay Buhner got more scatalogical and homophobic (“Buhner takes it up the ass, no va-so-line!”), several leaders of the loudmouth crew began pointing out fans in the stands who were wearing the caps of other teams. Mets fan in particular were singled out. And whenever an apostate was found, the entire bleachers serenaded him with this chant: “Assss-hole, assss-hole, assss-hole.” Eventually Andy was discovered, got his chant, and turned and doffed his cap good-naturedly to the crowd. Then everyone went back to concerning themselves with Jay Buhner's rectum.
I've actually heard worse stories about the right-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium: caps being taken away and ripped apart. Fistfights. Playoff games being decided by fans turning flyouts into homeruns. You know.
I get the idea: Yankee Stadium is their home park and you enter it at your own risk. But increasingly Yankee fans have invaded other stadiums, with their JETER and MANTLE and GEHRIG jerseys, and take over. They're like Rome in the days of Caesar. They're like Nazi Germany circa 1941. They're like that table full of Nazis at Rick's Cafe Americain in “Casablanca,” singing German songs while everyone around them, all the Free French, sit in disgust and contempt and a pure, burning hatred.
I tried to ignore them during the game. We sat 300 level behind homeplate, and, besides Andy and me, we had grandparents, a mother, and three kids. Plus Patricia. It was no place to start an “asshole” chant.
Besides, for most of the game, the M's were winning. In the bottom of the first, with one out, the M's strung together a single, a single, two walks and a groundout to take the lead, 2-1. The Yankees had a man in scoring position every inning of Isukawa's five innings of work but plated no one besides Jeter, who plated himself. They went hitless in the sixth and seventh. So we were still up, 2-1.
But I kept reminding everybody. In the fourth: We haven't had a hit since the first. In the sixth: We haven't had a hit since the first. In the eighth: We haven't had a hit since the first.
By that point, in the top of the eighth, the Yankees had loaded the bases, and pinch-hitter and backup shortstop Jayson Nix cleared them with a double, and the Yankee fans around me and in the stadium, invaders all, the Nazis at the table in “Casablanca,” roared their approval. They began a “Let's go, Yan-kees!” chant, which M's fans, tepid on a normal day, tried to drown out. It worked. Kinda. Then with two outs, Russell Martin singled to plate Nix, and Maj. Strasser and the Nazis around the table roared some more and sang their songs and chanted their chants.
And that was my “All I can stands, I can't stands no more” moment.
I went to a nearby group of Yankee fans, no doubt from Idaho or Montana, and laid it out for them. “The game's already over,” I said. “You've already got a two-run lead. The M's aren't going to come back from that. Basically you're cheering to keep the game going longer.”
One of them, the near one, said something like, “Way to have faith in your team, dude.”
I looked at him. I told him I did have faith in my team. On the road. I said they could hit on the road. But they had trouble hitting at Safeco. Why ignore what was true?
It was a bad response. I should've responded this way:
Faith in my team? In this team of Triple-A kids playing that team of All-Stars and future Hall of Famers? My team with its $70 million payroll playing your team with its $200 million payroll? My team with its idiot management who just wants to remain competitive within its division, and can't even manage that, versus your team for whom losing the World Series is a bad season, and who then open up the coffers again because they can afford to? Faith in my team? Do you have any fucking idea what it's like for the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball, you douchebag, you fuckstick, you oblivious cunt? Your team wins a rigged game. Do you get that? They win a rigged game and then attribute their success to “hard work.” They're the 1% of Major League Baseball. They think they're winning the game but they're ruining the game as surely as the 1% is ruining democracy.
I know. Not exactly 'La Marseillaise.“
Either way, I should've said more, or less, because I carried all I didn't say, all of that hatred, with me from the game, and on the bikeride home, and into a tawdry dinner that tasted like ashes, and then into a restless, headachey sleep.
The New York Yankees, with their $200 million payroll, came into town, took our franchise player while holding their noses, and won two out of three games against a team of Triple-A kids, including the last game, 5-2. Their fans in the stands cheered like it meant something. Like it was news.
”And here ya are. And it's a beautiful day."