The Closet Moderate: The Substance, It Burns!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Substance, It Burns!

We've had a little too much "real" talk on this blog lately, so I'm going to switch gears and talk about the Great American Pastime. That's baseball, for all you football-loving heathens out there.


I'm a man of slightly conflicted baseball loyalties. I started life as a Mets fan, but was forced to switch teams as a young lad by my mother, who heard tell of Darryl's wife-beating ways on NPR or something like that. My grandmother was a Phillies phan, and, being a contrarian by nature, I started following the New York Yankees in 1990. For those of you who hate the Yankees without knowing anything about them, 1990 was the year the Yankees finished dead last. There was Donnie Baseball and not much else to keep a young man's spirit alive, but I held fast and was eventually rewarded with a string of championships that justified my faith beyond my wildest expectations.

As a result of my childhood errors and a number of friends who follow the New York Metropolitans, I have a certain interest in their doings (mostly for the purposes of mockery). Watching the Mets contrive to get swept by the Phillies twice at Citizens Bank Park in 2007 was an almost spiritual experience, but it did cause a great deal of baseball-related grief to my friends. Mets fans are so broken at this point that their ray of sunshine is that they won't be knocked out of playoff contention by the Marlins in the last game of the regular season this year (See: '07 Mets, '08 Mets). Because they're not playing the Marlins in the last game of the regular season.

I also have a certain amount of love for the Phillies. I do appreciate a team so hungry for victory that when they finally ascend the mountain, they indulge in an orgy of arson, looting, cursing and violence. Grandma would be proud.

But look, there is one thing I can't stand: the bullshit concern-trolling about the Yankees spending a hojillion dollars on Teixeira, Sabathia, and AJ Burnett. "Can you believe it? In this economy?!" they say, monocles a-pop, as if the richest, winning-est franchise in the history of the sport has some sort of obligation to keep proletarian feathers unruffled. There are a couple points I want to make in response to these accusations.

1. Baseball is a business, and money exists so it can be exchanged for goods and (brace yourself) services. The services of, say, a great first basemen and a couple of damn good pitchers. The Yankees have a lot of money. They're not going to stick it in their ears. Rather, in a down market they'll take advantage of the financial weakness of other teams to snap up good talent. It's called competition, and it's presumably the reason people you watch sports. But on-the-field competition is somehow pure, while front office shenanigans are beneath contempt? Please.

2. We're doing you a favor. Actually, make that two favors. First off, when your team beats the Yankees, you can get that warm fuzzy feeling that accompanies a good underdog story. Relatedly, you can ignore the fact that lurking deep within you is an entitled fan just waiting for something to be entitled to. Witness the Boston Red Sox. Prior to 2004, Red Sox fans were bitter old men who spent their summer evenings in poorly lit bars, smoking and reminiscing in gravelly Boston accents about Teddy and Yaz. There was a certain honesty in that despair. In contrast, a stroll down Boylston Street in 2009 (after a Sawx win) will introduce you to an atmosphere previously found only in Wall Street boardrooms: the 100% douchebag environment. Choking clouds of smoke, cheap cologne and BoHos abound.

And they only won twice in 4 years.

1 comment:

Kate Horowitz said...

As a cherubic, gold-ringleted toddler, I had clear aspirations for myself as an adult. I wanted to be one of the following: a Cosby kid, one of the Pips, or Darryl Strawberry.