'tis the season for yankee-hating! Chip D. supplies the road map!
Chip D. offers up tips, reasons and pointers on Yankee-hating, based on three decades of oft-bitter experience! Tips (or are they reasons?) #2 and #3 below! Tune in all week for more! - sj
Tip #2: The "New" Yankee Stadium
Let's imagine the Vatican choosing to demolish St. Peter's because there were too few luxury pews. That's what the Steinbrenners happily did to baseball's St. Peter's. Then they made the old right field dimensions even sillier -- imagine reducing the number of Commandments from 10 to eight in order to make Sunday services more thrilling to the casual worshipper.
Weren't you pleased in April when the Yankees couldn't move their $2000 per game seats? Weren't you hoping that there was at least one Wall Street kleptocrat using his last shred of decency to resist purchasing those seats when the Yankees dropped the price to a more recession-friendly $1000? Doesn't anyone in New York find this temple of vanity to be a insult and desecration to baseball fans everywhere -- which is to ask, are there no baseball fans left in New York?
It is entirely fitting that the fidelity-challenged Rudy Giuliani attends, and gets himself photographed, at every home game.
Tip #3: Alex Rodriguez
Remember the 2000 Seattle Mariners? They were under-achievers, finishing second in the AL West with only 91 wins, despite the gaudy numbers of their free-agent-to-be shortstop, the 24-year old Alex Rodriguez. He hit 41 homers, drove in 132 runs, walked 100 times -- then left for the Texas Rangers and a quarter-billion dollar contract. However, the Mariners not only improved, but improved by 25 games! The 2001 Mariners racked up 116 wins. The only thing they had in common with their former-All Star was a knack for disappering in October. The Mariners spit up the ALCS to the Yankees that year, 4 games to 1. Randy Johnson, instead, became the former Mariner to take out the Yankees that year, teaming up with fellow Yankee-killer Curt Schilling to deprive the Bronx Bombers of their apparent birthright -- a fourth straight World Series title. Neither the Yankees nor A-Rod have won the World Series since.
Their fates became entwined. A-Rod wearied playing in front of lackluster crowds in a baseball backwater. He yearned for the big time, when he wasn't experimenting with steroids. The hollow, empty numbers bored even the guy putting them up. He joined the Yankees in 2004 where he became the bewildered face of a muscle-bound team. Jason Varitek kicked his butt when he whined about getting hit by a pitch -- "We don't throw at .240 hitters," Tek said to the slumping Rodriguez. In the post-season, he led the Yankees to the most embarassing October collapse in baseball history when the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit to win the ALCS in seven. The picture of A-Rod girly-slapping the ball from Bronson Arroyo's hand became the icon of this defeat.
His fall from grace even lacks the gravity of tragedy. Rather, it is comedy or farce -- passing out during his wife's delivery of their child, later his abandonment of that wife for (wait for it…) Madonna, still later the admission of steriod use. I take no joy in this tale: for a moment in the late 90s, it seemed we were watching the blossoming of the greatest player of our time. During the moronic homerun derbies fueled by Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, one had to hope that 1) A-Rod was clean and 2) he would render their phony records moot. Instead, like Bonds, he has become the joyless warehouser of statistical trivia, the unlovable butt of late-night jokes, the befuddled celeb on the back page of the tabloids. In short, he has become the appropriate face of this decade's New York Yankees. In a just universe, the drought for both would continue.