Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Yankees Are Cancer: World Series, 2009

You already know the outcome, so welcome to the last bit of liveblogging doom, gloom, angst and loathing for the 2009 baseball season. Think of this as the sports equivalent of watching Glenn Beck read a newspaper. Only I'm not actually insane. Let us instead enter a legitimate Chamber of Loathing:
Being a baseball fan and rooting for the Yankees is like being an oncologist and rooting for cancer.
I don't remember when I wrote that. I want to say the 7th inning. And while I recognize that it is partially histrionic, I think also that it's true.

Most baseball fans want to see their teams win, and aside from a few sociopaths or fans of teams who've been so horrible for so long that they've earned a malicious desire, very few fans want to see their teams stomp holy hell all season and win a championship effortlessly. In video games, it's one thing to play in God Mode, to force trades and make your team a roster of monsters, but in real life I think we all acknowledge that victories are sweeter for being won rather than being taken and walked off with. I think any Red Sox fan would, in a candid moment, admit that 2004 and 2007 would have been dreadfully dull without the 0-3 and 1-3 comeback runs in the ALCS to get to the World Series, because those Series games were almost painfully lopsided. (I think any good Red Sox fan would also admit that the team had an obscenely large payroll and reaped the rich benefits of the same.)

Although the presence of so many World Series trophies certainly helps, I think it's the expectation of dominance that anathematizes the Yankees for me. If you ask me to break down the team on an individual-to-individual basis, there are really few people on it I genuinely dislike. If you ask me to break down their fans on the same, there would be loads more people, but taken as a percentage of the fanbase I would imagine it would be quite small. But whether you call it mystique or entitlement, there is a general attitude about Yankeedom I find immediately abhorrent.

The money issue is a big thing. Look, we're kidding ourselves if we try to seriously claim that money doesn't win championships. Three- and four-game series in the postseason introduce a randomizing aspect that allows lower-payroll teams to eliminate higher-payroll teams via luck and small sample size, but it's stupid to disbelieve that a lot of money usually gets you to those postseasons. For instance, the Yankees have missed the playoffs only once in the last 14 years. Getting to the postseason takes 90+ wins, but once there, you only have to put together 11. Eventually, enough opportunity should statistically give you a championship. It's not being there: it's getting there.

As is the case with anyone supporting The Establishment, Yankee fans will point to the one year that the Yankees didn't get to the postseason as an indicator that a system where they DO get to the postseason 13 of 14 times is fair and equitable. Of course, that exclusion only happened because of an outlier: a team that had been so bad for so long was able to accumulate so many high draft picks that they put it all together surprisingly at once. In fact, they got where they were from the benefit of being a touchstone of terrible. Had they merely been mediocre for a decade, they'd never have stood a chance.

This is the same outlier defense that plutocracy uses to excuse itself. Any success story proves the egalitarian structure of the system regardless of the success' aberrancy. Take God knows how many families that had $10 million in 1900 and you'll probably find that 90% of them are still in the same bracket today. And probably every one of them will point you to some ass who got lucky creating a local cable company as proof that "The American Dream" works and that there's "no such thing as aristocracy," despite the fact that he's a tiny fraction of the available millionaires and there by chance, while they're playing with money that's been there for a century, reliably.

I realize this seems sort of abstruse, but this is why I can't root for the Yankees and why it baffles me that people hop on their bandwagon — why, indeed, they have any resonance for those not born in New York. We don't root for this shit anywhere else. We tend to view the sports business as just sporty enough to obscure its business aspect and wipe away the attendant privilege attached to certain teams' largesse. We personalize the team via players and attitudes so that we can escape the dissonance of being, on average, lower-middle-class people who exalt an upper class for the gain of an upper-class organization and its continued dominance. But this doesn't translate elsewhere. Nobody has ever opened a newspaper and leaned over to a stranger and said, "Gosh, I hope the Rockefellers earn a fuckload of money this year," just as no one ever starts a Facebook group called, "1 Million Strong for Exxon to Reach Another Billion $."

Why? Because fuck those people, that's why. And like the Rockefellers and Exxon's primary shareholders, the annual Yankees supporter is essentially born on third base and thinks he's hit a triple. Only, in their case, the analogy is reified by its actually being about baseball. The Yankee fan can open the newspaper in April and know that he's already looking at a team OPS of .800 or more. And if you express disgust at this, he'll point to outliers like the 2003 Marlins or the 2008 Rays and say, "I don't really have an advantage, here. Anything can happen," and swaddle himself in just enough statistical anomalies to make him feel like marginally less of a dickhead when he silently says to himself, "But I know what will happen: we will contend." Because he knows he can't control for luck. But he sure as shit can make luck have to work harder, go longer and be less likely to happen.

Hence the analogy up top. We know most of the time that cancer wins. It takes a lot of luck and little factors to beat it back, but usually it returns, and usually it triumphs. There is no challenge, no real commitment to backing a sure thing. You can just recline and wait. It deviates sometimes. Incidental factors may rebuff it. But it will recur. Now, I don't mean to suggest that the Yankees eat away at people and murder them, but rooting for them as a baseball fan is a lot like rooting for cancer. It's a concession to momentum and inevitability over the possible and unique. And in a sport where the competition is more fun and more engrossing to everyone the greater the chances are for anyone to succeed, putting faith in the inevitable over the possible is just such a concession. Death is the ultimate sure thing, and it's hard not to think that if Death were willing to put on a uniform, Yankees fans would want to sign him. Their attitude to anything outside Yankeedom is often that nullifying, ruthless and zero-sum.

Enough. The following should be brief:

World Series Game Six

FOX Keys to the Game:
Phillies: You're kidding, right?
Yankees: 27 for 27 for 27.
Whoa, guys! Stop smothering me with content!

Number of Pedro Pitches Before the Yankee Stadium Organist Goes to the Let's Go Yankees/Who's Your Daddy riff: 17

Look, I don't begrudge a fanbase their right to mock an opposing player, but is there anything more pathetic than the fact that Yankee fans desperate hump that WHO'S YOUR DADDY shit, in addition to needing help from the organist? You know who came up with that burn? The dude you're using it against. He wrote it for you. That's like calling someone fat, and the other person blowing you off and saying, "I also fuck dudes," and then screaming, "YOU FUCK DUUU-UUUUUDES" at him every time you see him. Great line, shithead: you didn't think of it.

Hey, Mark Teixeira looks pissy walking to first base after being hit with a baseball. Other things Mark Teixeira looks pissy doing/about:
Combing his hair
Hearing anything come on the radio that is not Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon"
When he's got the look — L.A. Look — but he's not in L.A.
Mousse that's "control hold" and not "power hold"
Carbs!!! Arrrghhh!!!!!
When you ask the guy at the fish market what that fish is, and he gives you a normal name for it instead of the sushi name, because you're buying it for your own sushi guy to cut up
Too much Jesus
Not enough Jesus
"Natural" beef jerky that isn't really natural
When a girl isn't hot
When a guy wants to talk to him, but he isn't his driver
People who don't have rad cars
Cheese—seriously, just be milk or yogurt, but not this undrinkable stuff
People who don't have a lot of money
Bobby Cox—stop being old! Old people are creepy!
Going to the bathroom and nothing comes out and then you have to READ while you're there
When the guy at the taqueria recognizes you and then pronounces your name all Mexican
Hams—either be a good food or someone's butt—too confusing!!!!
When a dog humps you
People who don't have a plasma-screen wall
Fans that don't give packets of hand sanitizer after the autograph
Priscilla Presley's name and how you spell it
Wingtip shoes that don't fly
I think I'm starting to love Teixeira because every single face he pulls is about one moment away from some De Niro "Ehhhh, l'il bit..." face.

Taking a break from a Yankee's game to watch Windows ads is like fleeing Berlin for Rome in 1941.

Oh, good, more Rudy Giuliani sighting. Is there any person who's quotation-marked middle name is a human tragedy who isn't a complete predator and asshole?

Texeira gets his first hit since August and immediately starts pursing his lips and glowering on first base when he gets there. I've figured out what he reminds me of. He reminds me of when a boy under 10 gets his first hat and doesn't yet have a real sense of self that takes into account his own image. So let's say it's an Indiana Jones-style fake Stetson, and the kid walks around theatrically like "injured Indy," wearing an oversized smirk and limping around like someone who's never been in pain, this just over-the-top sad approximation of what people look like. Mark Teixeira looks exactly like that, except he's trying to scowl out from under the brim of his hat like Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange while pursuing his lips like one of the Heathers in Heathers.

If the Yankees win this, how far do the players on the current roster move up toward True Yankee status? I'm thinking Nick Swisher gets there for always being cheery and a "gamer." I think Joba gets there for being "home grown." I think A-Rod gets a pass for a while but will never get there. Also, CC Sabathia won't get there because he's black. The True Yankees already have their "token" with Bernie Williams. Adding CC would only make people ask why so many of the existing True Yankees' statistics suck.

Top of the 6th:
JOE BUCK: You know, the Yankees are often criticised for throwing around money and trying to buy a championship... (He then names the $320+ million they spent in the offseason for three players alone, plus the $250 million for Alex Rodriguez.) But hey, how about Pettitte?
This is the capper he has for a long wandering bit about the Yankee payroll. First of all, Pettitte's contract is for a baseline $5.5 million, which creeps to almost $9 million with bonuses. His contract, with bonuses, is almost a fifth of the team payroll for the team that won the AL East last year. This is Buck's grand point: look at how little the Yankees spent on this guy they're ultimately going to give nearly $9 million for pitching. This is a point he brings up after mentioning that they spent $320 million in the offseason. I know the answer to, "How do you have such a witless lack of perspective as this?" because the answer is, "You are Joe Buck." But even this seems like he's trying to be dumb. He seems to think that naming the winner of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest and the first and second runners up will disguise the fact that he's introducing a girl to you who can inhale six hot dogs in 120 seconds. He thinks that telling you something profoundly excessive makes something merely excessive just normal. This is why he's Joe Buck.

Joba Chamberlain's eyebrows look like a cat emoticon.

This Happ guy's been pitching pretty well. Obviously it's time for Charlie Manuel to pull him. All during this Series and last year's, people took great pains to explain that Charlie Manuel was a fantastic hitting coach. My quibble is that he seems to be so good that he's orchestrating things so both sides can hit the shit out of the ball. The problem here is that he's the hitting coach for only ONE team.

The home run was sweet, but aside from a couple sweet defensive plays, Ryan Howard no-showed this World Series.

Why can't we watch Mariano Rivera's entrance? It's the coolest entrance in baseball. I hate when my team faces Mariano Rivera, but if you don't like the dude and don't think that he's amazing, you have a screw loose. It's a deciding game in the World Series. We should be treated to the entire "Enter Sandman" experience. Maybe I'm only bitching about this because I know the game is over.

And it is. Yankees win. Mark Teixeira thanks "God" for leading him to the Yankees. I guess he means the word printed on the backs of all the dollars in the suitcase full of cash he signed for? I love his rationale. If anyone bothers to drunk dial from pay phones anymore, they should totally pull this. "Why am I callllbbrrhghgblling you? It's beCAZE of GOD!" (fumbles with coins) "I lissenned t'is VOICE. He all over thissdamn things. It's GOD, baby. GAAAD wanned me to call ya."

This is awesome:
SOME DOUCHEBAG: Hal [Steinbrenner], it's the most uttered phrase in sports, "The New York Yankees are world champions."
Ahahaha. That's not even the most uttered phrase for this team, which would probably be "Past a diving Jeter!" Or, I don't know, "Outside, for a ball." What an ass.

Joe Girardi has a lot of clich├ęs to tell you while explaining how the Yankees won:
GIRARDI: The willingness to be unselfish and to play the game the right way.
I'm guessing here he meant "write," referring to checks. And "unselfish," referring to being willing to take a check for the other guys on the team, just dive right into that salary. Or maybe he meant that they'd be willing to hit home runs the right way: "gutty dingers." Surely he didn't mean that they bunted, stole and ran their way to a championship. You know, sliding, dirty, gritty. I would hate to think that the right way has changed to, "Sit, as the most powerful offense in baseball hammers the crap out of shit and use your iPhone to make sure the direct-deposit went through."

Matsui is the MVP. Good for Godzilla. He's a good egg. He also murdered the ball. Matsui's pretty cool. Although, despite its being awkward as hell, I think I would have liked Chase Utley to win.

Good on ya, Jeter, for getting another ring. I think you jump up like a goof to make plays seem closer than they need to be; you have less range than you should; and you dive a lot to make up for your shortcomings. But you've been working to stay fit, upgrading your range in your defense, and you hit like a bastard. You're a great fucking player, and you're a First-Ballot guy, all the way. Good on ya, Nick Swisher, one of the goofiest motherfuckers in baseball. Good on ya, Mariano Rivera, one of the classiest and most impressive people to play the game. Anyone who wouldn't be proud to have the three of you on their team is either a liar or a fool.

Fuck You

Fuck the Steinbrenners who can get annoyed at some mosquito-like inconvenience in baseball and drop fifty million dollars to correct it. Fuck Brian Cashman, who annually professes his interest in developing talent from within and becoming a top-down complete Yankees organization, but who signs a bunch of free agents every year with more mad money than most other teams can dream of having for essential operations. Fuck Joe Girardi, who misused his bullpen, who couldn't manage his starters and who had enough excellent pieces in his lineups that he could fuckup his way to glory and smash things to shit and still have replacements better than other teams' elite players. Fuck Chien-Ming Wang who was such a catastrophe early in the season that we didn't get to see him implode late in the season, and fuck that he got a ring anyway. Fuck AJ Burnett for being paid a team's salary to be an on-again and off-again ass. Fuck you and your Ichabod Chrane head, AJ. Fuck Joba Chamberlain, fuck him for being a tantrum-throwing fat baby. Fuck the fat fucking Joba baby. Fuck you, Joba, you Downs-faced fuck. You're basically a lobotomy with anime eyebrows and a pitching arm. Fuck every single Yankees reliever who isn't Mo or Marte. My GOD, you're all white and have enough wood jammed up your ass to purchase a home in Connecticut. If not build one. Which, given that you pitch for the Yankees, you've already done, to get away from the "bad" neighborhoods. Just don't buy in the same part of Connecticut that Damaso Marte might buy in. (Heeeee'ssss blaaaaack.) Also, CC Sabathia: thanks for the help, but true Yankees aren't fat. Well, except for Babe Ruth. Well, they're not like you... you know... what you look like.... LOOK, Reggie hit a lot of dingers, and he was lighter-skinned. You see how the Homeowners' Association could be unfomfortable with you here, CC. Fuck Jorge Posada. He couldn't cobble together his millions to buy a chin, a personality, anything about him that was interesting or a vestigial face that would be attractive. Fuck Mark Teixeira: if you loved Jesus so much, why did you leave the bible belt for a fucking payday, you pissfaced SOB? You snorted cash on up to NEW YAWRK CEETEE and tried to whitewash it as God's impulsion for your career. But you're neither a pilgrim nor a Christian: you sucked your way upward like some pneumatic event toward the cashbox, and then up there you sniffed at those below you. FUCK YOU. While we're here, FUCK JOHNNY DAMON. I get it. You're one of the dumbest people on the planet. You probably took Boras' word as bond that the Red Sox would not pay you any more and immediately signed with the Yankees. But what you didn't think about—BECAUSE YOU ARE DUMB—is that staying with the Sox would have netted you endorsement deals until you died. You passed those up for a one-time signing bonus with the Yankees. Guess who got the most out of that and would've gotten much less out of those lifetime endorsement deals, Johnny? Your parasitic agent. You'll never be welcome in Boston again, and no one in New York will ever care. You signed a deal that killed the rest of the deals you'd get for the rest of your life. You are FUCKING STUPID. Alex Rodriguez: why should I even bother? You're a human punch line. You will always be a human punch line. YOU HAVE PAINTINGS OF YOURSELF AS A CENTAUR. Nobody needs to tell you to fuck yourself because you constantly do, with everything that you are. You actually live a life that instantly invalidates its purpose to anyone with fucking sense. You are a self-aborting human being. The longer you are known to anyone the less they think you should be alive.

• Seriously, though, way to go, Yankees!

• Thank God there are eight-year-olds in New York and eight-year-olds bandwagoning all around the country who don't have to say they've gone their entire lives without seeing their team win a championship anymore. I just hope to Christ they can buy some hats or something to keep this Hope Train going.