Yankees Suck postsSunday October 22, 2017
How I Helped the Houston Astros Beat the New York Yankees in the 2017 ALCS
Key play: Bird clipped in the 5th. As Omar said, “It's just Bird to me.”
I can't lie. I couldn't watch Game 7.
Yesterday we had plans to see the Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum with our friends Vinny and LoLo and we stayed until around 5:00 (gametime), and then we went out for drinks and dinner until around 7:30. I could've watched then. But I didn't. I didn't even go online. I left my phone off. Like all the way off. The day before a friend, who was a Yankees fan, texted me something mid-game, some snide comment, and I didn't want to know, so I turned the whole thing off that night and the next night. I didn't want to jinx it.
This is partly the result of what happened Tuesday night. Patricia and I were on our way to dinner before seeing “Ragtime” at the 5th Avenue Theater (we ususally don't get out this much), and I checked the score on ESPN.com: 4-0, Astros, in the 7th. Great! They'd be up three games to one with one more to win. In the bag. But then I saw something on Twitter. Something about how someone, Joe Musgrove or someone, was supposed to be the Astros' Andrew Miller and it hadn't happened. Then managerial comments like: “If your thought is to bring in X if your first pitcher gives up two runs, you should just begin the inning with X.” I went back to ESPN.com with an awful feeling in my stomach. Yep. It was now 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th, one out, and the Yankees had runners on first and third. Then it was 4-4 in the bottom of the 8th, one out, and the Yankees had runners on first and third. Then it was 6-4, Yankees. Then it was over and the series was tied, 2-2, and the Yankees had the momentum.
All because I'd checked the score on ESPN.com.
I don't know why baseball fans are like this but some part of me was thinking that. No, not thinking. Feeling. Stupidly feeling. I just had that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. So when the games went back to Houston, with the Yankees up 3-2, I decided not to watch those games live. I didn't want to jinx anything. Last night, when P and I got home, I suggested we watch “Minority Report,” which I hadn't seen since it was released, and which some people feel is a great movie (it's not). Before then, Patricia wanted to show me a video of something someone shared on Facebook, something about corgis, and I told her no, not going to look. Couldn't risk it. Couldn't jinx even that proximity to social media. Instead the movie. We watched half of it, before I grew tired, got in bed, read a bit of “The Snowman,” fell asleep with Jellybean on my chest. Woke up, fed Jellybean, made coffee, brushed my teeth while listening to NPR, and in the midst of the usual horrid Trump-specific news, they gave us their World Series announcement.
They took their sweet time getting there, but even that was a good sign. If the Yankees had won, after all, that would be the lead. Yankees Yankees Yankees. Instead, they announced that the World Series would begin on Tuesday evening (right...) with the Los Angeles Dodgers representing the National League (OK...) and representing the American League (c'mon already...) ... the Houston Astros, who beat ...
It was all I could do, at 6 AM in our condo on First Hill in Seattle, not to scream for joy.
This is what that means. Instead of the New York Yankees winning their 41st pennant (second-best team has 20) and having the opportunity to win their 28th World Series (second-best team has 11), the Houston Astros won their second pennant and have the opportunity to win their first World Series.
Meaning, on this Sunday morning, in this awful Trump era, in this awful year of 2017, there is a little justice in the world.
Thank you, Astros.
Rooting for the New York Yankees is like Rooting for White People
Imagine if the Houston Astros hadn't done its job, we'd be getting Yankees vs. Red Sox in the ALCS again. Lord.
Last night the Cleveland Indians didn't do its job and so “for the first time since 2012” (as SI intoned on Twitter), the New York Yankees are going to the ALCS. Yeah, that five-year-long wandering in the wilderness they went through; I don't know how their fans stuck it out.
Overall, it will be the Yankees' eighth ALCS this century. Since 2000, we've had 18 LCSes and the Yankees have been in eight of them. The Indians remain stuck on three. Scratch that: two. This will be Houston's third LCS this century, and its first in the American League. The team with the most is the Cardinals, who have nine.
But to Yankee fans, those aren't the numbers that matter. The numbers that matter are 40 and 27. As in pennants and rings. They've been stuck on those since 2009 and want to move on. They want to add to them. Continually. Ad nauseum. And in case you don't know, the team with the most rings after the Yankees is the Cardinals, who have ... 11. The team with the most pennants after the Yankees is the Giants, who have ... 20. So no one's close. The Yankees have most and want more.
Last night, watching all of this at the QL, our local bar, with too much drink in me and surrounded by too few people who cared about the game, I thought of the famous slogan from the early 1960s: “Rooting for the New York Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel.” Meaning a powerful, faceless, pointless entity. A machine that kept producing this product on an assembly line. Rah.
I thought of the update while stewing (stewed) at the QL: Rooting for the New York Yankees is like rooting for white people. When I got home I plastered it all over Twitter. I interrupted Yankees fans online celebrations with it. Many didn't get the reference, of course, and thought to educate me by bringing up all the non-white players on the team.
In the remaining LDS, I'm rooting for the Nats (with zero LCS appearances and zero pennants) over the Cubs (last year's feel-good story). Mostly, though, I'm just rooting for Houston. To end it already.
ALDS Game 5: Who to Root For
Right now there's some mainstream-media confusion as to who is the underdog (and thus who you should root for) in tonight's winner-take-all American League Division Series matchup between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland, you see, went to the World Series last year. They forced a Game 7. They were one measly run from winning it all. And this year they set a modern record by winning 22 straight games. They had the best record in the American League. They's a powerhouse.
The Yankees, meanwhile, haven't won it all since way back in 2009. (I can barely see back that far.) The team, for once, is not totally made up of high-priced free agents (although it's still got its share of those), but its heart is a couple of young, hungry, powerful players, like 6' 8“ monstrosity Aaron Judge, and 1930s Warner Bros. gangster Gary Sanchez. They've been dubbed the ”Baby Bombers," which is a cute name, and they do cute things. After a player hits a homerun, for example, the others, rather than congratulate him, conduct a mock press conference in the dugout. And they've turned a hapless Tampa Bay Ray fan's sign of disapproval, a thumbs down gesture after a Todd Frazier homerun, into a talisman. Now when they do good things, they use this gesture with each other. Shows that fan of that team that never won anything.
So, for some in the media, the Yankees are not completely the Goliath here. If you squint, like until your eyes are completley shut, they're a little bit of David.
In this frame of reference, both teams are due. The Yankees have won 27 World Series championships throughout their storied career, which is an average of one every 4.15 years. And it's been eight years now, nearly twice that. Their fans are bereft.
The Indians have won two World Series championships throughout their less-than-storied career, which is an average of one every 56 years. They last won it all in 1948, which is longer than 56 years. But is it twice that? No. So whose fans are truly bereft?
A few more stats to continue the discussion. I posted these on Facebook yesterday.
Before baseball's expansion era began, meaning from 1903 to 1960, the New York Yankees won 25 pennants. That's 44% of all possible pennants they could've won during this period. The second-best AL team (the Athletics) won 8 pennants—or 14%.
The Cleveland Indians won 3.
Once the expansion era began, and the number of league rivals grew from eight to 10 to 12 to 14, and now 15, the Yankees couldn't dominate the way they once did—but they still dominated. Since '61, they've won 15 pennants. That's 27% of all possible pennants they could've won during this period.
The second-best AL team during this era (Orioles, BoSox, A's) won 6 pennants—or 11%.
The Cleveland Indians won 3.
But here's the best measure of the success, or not, of the two teams. Warning: There's some math involved.
In both eras, i.e., from 1903 to today, the Yankees, with their 27 rings, have won 24% of all available World Series titles, while the Indians, with their two, have won 1.8%. So for the Yankees to reach the Indians' current percentage level of titles to opportunties, i.e., that 1.8%, they need to not win a World Series title for a while. How long?
The answer is approximately 1,350 years. Until the year 3366.
Essentially that's how much misery the Yankees and their fans have to make up in order to to reach the current misery-level index of the Cleveland Indians and their fans. Just a thousand years. And change.
That's also my answer as to when I might begin to root for them. If the Yankees haven't won another World Series title by the year 3366, I'll consider it. I might throw them a bone. Until then, nah. Until then, I have another hand gesture for the Baby Bombers and their fans. It's a little less polite than the one used in Tampa Bay.
Of Monsters and Mean People
The other day I was looking through an old notebook from a trip Patricia and I took to Prague, Vienna, etc., in the summer of 2014, and came across this conversation we had the morning after we arrived in Salzburg, Austria. It wasn't about Mozart:
Me: Wow. Weirdest dream last night.
She: What about?
Me: OK, this will sound silly, but the Yankees were in the postseason against the Oakland A's. They'd won the first two games and were ahead in the third game, 22-6, and it was just awful. This awful feeling.
She: (Laughs) My nightmares are always about monsters and mean people.
Me: (Pause) So are mine.
Last night, in the one-game American League wildcard playoff, the Twins took a 3-0 lead against the Yankees in the top of the 1st, Yanks tied it in the bottom of the 1st, and went ahead for good in the bottom of the 2nd. The rest played out as normal. The Twins knocked out the Yankees starting pitcher sooner than any Yankees starting pitcher has ever been knocked out in the post-season, and they lost the game, 8-4. And the shocking thing was how unshocking it all was. Twins go up 3-0 and the thought was, “So how are they going to blow it?” I could tell from the player's faces on the bench. They weren't loose; they weren't having fun; they didn't have fire in the belly. They were tight. That team needs some Eric Hosmers or Sal Perezes or Tino Martinezes on it. The guys that whoop it up or burn. Or both.
Here's a great passsage from Josh Ostergaard's great book, “The Devil's Snake Curve,” which my friend Dave gave me a few years ago and I've only recently gotten around to reading:
When the United States was testing its first atomic bomb in the summer of 1945, a code system was created so its success or failure could be communicated back to Washington without worry of the news leaking.
“Cincinnati Reds” would mean the test had failed. “Brooklyn Dodgers” would mean the test had gone as planned.
After scientists tested the first nuclear weapon, and knew the war in the Pacific would end, and that all life on earth could end, the signal of unimagined triumph went back to Washington.
The message read: “New York Yankees.”
So now we have scientific proof. It's not just me; scientists say this.
“The Devil's Snake Curve” is part Midwest memoir, part Howard Zinn history of the U.S., and part baseball history from the perspective of a Yankees hater. So kinda up my alley.
Elsewhere, as if to underline the sentiment unnecessarily, this year's Yankees, dubbed the “Baby Bombers” by an lovestruck press, clinched a playoff berth this past weekend. They look to play the Twins in the wild card game on October 3. Their record against the Twins since 2002? 89-33.