Deja Vu All Over Again or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Accepted the Yankees

I must preface: I hate the Yankees.

In fact, ‘hate’ is not strong enough a word. I loathe the Yankees. I abhor the Yankees. There just aren’t any words adequate enough to capture the full extent of my emotions.

Rooting for the Yankees is like hoping the star quarterback hooks up with the prom queen. If you like to see the rich getting richer, believe in trickle-up economics or hopes Starbucks sells another frappuccino then maybe the Yankees are the team for you. For my taste, if it came down to a choice between abolishing the Yankees of the H1N1 virus, I would actually think, “hasn’t that poor strain been through enough?”

Yet, despite my passionate distaste for pinstripes I am still able to contain my opinion for the good of journalistic integrity. Just because I hate them doesn’t mean that I can’t admire their significance.

To wit: The New York Yankees are the most important team in professional baseball.

For the reasons of business, commerce, politics, TV ratings and general interest the Yankees are the keystone species in this fragile ecosystem called the Major Leagues. Without the New York franchise in place, baseball would be slowly decomposing in a sweltering canyon with buzzards racing in to pick the carcass.

The success of the Yankees is legend; 26 world championships, an endless procession of Hall of Fame members, a myth immortalized in Hollywood pictures. To the victor go the spoils. So has it been for the Yankees this past century.

This is why the Yankees are so critical. Our reaction to them is polarizing. Only two possible opinions exist: Love or Hate. There is no neutral ground. No other team can generate that level of excitement.

The success of the Yankees is always assumed; it is a forgone conclusion. Any team faced with the task of beating the Yankees four out of seven times in the months of October/ November is staring at a near insurmountable obstacle. Because of this, beating them would becomes a sweeter outcome. The sting of losing to them (sorry Twins and Angel fans) will linger for a while.

Lucas didn’t make Darth Vader a ruthless badass because he felt like it. Vader was a ruthless badass because he had to be. The entire fate of the universe hung in the balance. It was Lucas’ way of upping the ante.

The Yankees reprise the role of the badass cyborg without a heart. They have been World Champions before and they will inevitably do it again.  Their mere participation in the post season raises the stakes.

Other teams create apathy among casual fans. “Who’s playing?” they pretend to care. The Yankees bring the element of extremes. People will tune in because they want to see them succeed. Or they will watch to enjoy witnessing their failure. But no matter what, people will pay attention because they are playing.

The Boston Red Sox erroneously believe that the Yankees are their arch nemesis. The truth is the Yankees play foil to all. They are everyone’s arch nemesis. They are the standard by which all teams, baseball or otherwise, are measured. Dynasties of every kind and in every arena are considered to be “the Yankees of _______.” Fill in the blank with ‘Women’s Collegiate Lawn Bowling’ and the analogy still applies.

Statistically, the Yankees were the best team in baseball this year. But the post season is a different animal. Statistics are meaningless; distracting, even.

Heart, faith, momentum. The intangibles win baseball games this time of year.

But the Yankees seem to have that, too.

In a search for the words that aptly describe the Yankees, a simple one comes to mind: it.

It is the word we use when we want to call attention to the qualities that make something unique. It is the word we use when every other adjective struggles to make an appropriate match. It is the word we use when no other will suffice.

Yoda had it, too, but Lucas called it the force. For the 2009 Yankees, it seems to be with them.

And, like it or not, baseball is all the better for it.

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6 Comments

Filed under Baseball, Sports

6 responses to “Deja Vu All Over Again or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Accepted the Yankees

  1. I’m far from a Yankees fan, but seeing how they haven’t been relevant this decade we’re probably due for a few good years from them. I have to root for them now as I’m an A’s fan and hate the Angels as much as you hate the Yankees, so hopefully whoever comes out of the NLCS will take it all! Check out our blog http://doin-work.com

  2. Olympus Monz

    Fanhood is a fickle thing. We all hate the Yankees, they’ve won so much. They make the the progress of our beloved Teams seem residual, laughable, silly. We make the dance, can’t quite come through. One hit there, sweet glove here. The Yanks bats seem to equalize all of that.

    The equalization of sports comes from the individual. The one guy who throws the challenge off with a shrug.

  3. Olympus Monz

    And I must preface: I hate the Yankees.

    But at the same time, I love them as a tool to wreak havoc on my advasaries.

    Being a Dodger fan, living in Orange County of Los Angeles, I have to put up with needle-dick Angel fans. These fans put a premace on pre-season! Every year I have to put up with their booming joy when they win the “Freeway Series”. Every year I have to remind them, “It’s OK have some dip.” It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. “Angel fans, I feel, are the least baseball educated fans in the league. They jump, when they should sit. They fly, when they should land. They speak, when they should shut the fuck up.

    This is the reason why I root for the Yankees. I’m a HUGE fan during this ALCS. But at the same time, I understand the ultimate goal.

    To achieve a World Championship, you have to beat the best. The Yankees are clearly in the running. But I wouldn’t be apposed to a little Dodger magic to mix it up, would you?

  4. Luisjpena

    I know what you mean. I don’t recall seeing a lot of Angel fans prior to their championship season. Now everywhere I look, there is one trying to discuss baseball with me. That is all great if they know their baseball. But most cannot even tell if their team is on the road or at home, who they are playing or who’s starting that days game. It seems they only start watching in baseball in late September.

    • virtualmanspace

      I must agree. Great organization, professionally managed, crappy fans. And that ridiculous name: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, North of Santa Ana, South of Fullerton, Fifteen minutes from Irvine in the middle of Orange County. Yikes!

  5. That’s another thing, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? As I was watching game three of the angels vs. red sox series, all the boston beans in attendance started chanting “BEAT LA”. That really hit a nerve. That saying is reserved for the real LA sports franchises not the red headed step childs to the south.

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