Thursday, September 23, 2004

It's Patriotic to Hate the Yankees

I saw the documentary Nine Innings from Ground Zero on HBO the other night, and I think it was very well done. It was a nice document of how baseball helped New Yorkers bear the pain of 9/11. A good chronicle of an overlooked sub-event in the backdrop of mass chaos and uncertainty. There was, however, one major and nearly fatal flaw: Everyone in the United States did not want the Yankees to win the 2001 World Series.

Take me for example: red-blooded American boy of 25 years at the time, living in the state of New York, four hours away from the site where cowardly fanatics did the unthinkable. In fact, I had been at that very site less than two months earlier. I am also a Yankee hater of the highest degree. I hate everything about the team. I hate the owner, I hate their players, I hate their fans. I hate the sense of entitlement they've carried around since their first world title (in a few years anyway) in 1996. I hate the way their fans call players by their first names (Tino, Jorge, Mariano, El Duque).

Now this isn't to say I hold any ill will toward the people of New York City. Quite the contrary, I've never felt more of a part of the metropolis. While it's a bit presumptuous to say "We were all New Yorkers that day," it's not an exaggeration to say we took the attacks personally outside of New York as well.

But to say this would somehow translate to a desire to see the bane of my sports spectating existence is preposterous. It wasn't just New Yorkers who were suffering, remember. People from Boston and Baltimore and Oakland and Seattle and Phoenix were suffering too. This was not just an attack on New Yorkers, it was truly an attack on all Americans, it just happened to be in the high profile of NYC.

Former Yankee 3rd baseman Scott Brosius was quoted as saying (and I'm paraphrasing), "It's not fair. If there were ever a year that the Yankees should win the World Series, it was this year." Let's put aside the fact that the Yankees didn't deserve to win that World Series, as Games Five and Six were pulled from the team's collective anus in the late innings. But why would it be "fair" for the Yankees to win the World Series? I didn't hear any Diamondbacks saying that. Is it because Brosius played for the Yankees that he felt this way. Mmm, I think so. Was it "unfair" that the San Francisco Giants didn't win the World Series after the 1989 Earthquake? Was America rooting for Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell to uplift the city? Was it unfair that the L.A. Lakers didn't win the 1992 Finals? I mean, it was right after the Rodney King riots. Wouldn't that have brought the city together? Wasn't it "unfair" that Loyola Marymount University didn't win the NCAA basketball championship the year Hank Gathers passed away? (That was actually a sports-related tragedy.) I realize 9/11 is a catastrophe on a much more complex and tragic scale, but the logic of championing a sports team after its city had a disaster does not hold.

Besides, would Brosius give up the Jeffrey Maier home run in the '96 playoffs? Or would he have had Roger Clemens ejected from the Mets/Yankees World Series in 2000? After all, the Yankees didn't "deserve" those breaks.

I, for one, have never been happier at the outcome of a baseball game as I was when Luis Gonzalez hit that bloop single to end the 2001 World Series. I jumped so high that I literally almost hit my head on the ceiling. (And I'm not a tall man.) I was happy -- yes, happy -- that Yankee fans felt the sting of World Series defeat for the first time in years. It is my right and my duty to hate the Yankees. A Yankee win would not have erased the hurt that New Yorkers felt, just as the Diamondbacks' victory did not take away the hurt of wounded Arizonans. The documentary seemed to intimate that the country was united against the hated Diamondbacks, who were trying to deprive the Pinstripes from their rightful crown. Not true.

If I had rooted on the Yankees in that World Series, the terrorists would have won.

7 comments:

Toastie said...

Billy,

I agree. I also watched a portion of that documentary before practice the other day. I actually almost couldn't bring myself to leave it because it was so well done; however I had a schedule to keep. Part of me thinks that it would have been nice for the yankees to have won the series that year because if any city needed some uplifting it was NY. But, as you stated, it wasn't just NY that needed a shot of good times. It was the ENTIRE COUNTRY. What happened with that series was exactly what the country needed. To find something to distract itself from the pain we all felt from 9/11 and getting us feeling good again. I think this series succeeded in that. Look at the games that were played. Two dramatic comeback victories, 9th inning heroics, Mr. November, Schilling and Johnson (most dominating one-two punch in history??), Asians getting a beatdown (Byung Hyung Kim, and I was joking with that comment), and most importantly, a team besides the yankees winning the world series. It would have been nice to see the Yanks win but can't they be happy enough with being successful and getting to the Series and making it memorable. Remember when that was a victory in itself, winning the League Pennant. The only reservation I have about the non yankee victory was that it happened against an expansion team, which some baseball purists view as a travasty. Why couldn't the Braves, Mets, or even the Padres beat these guys? But if anything it has sparked one of my favorite salutes for the Yanks: "To the New York Yankees, giving world championships to expansion teams since 2001." Good work Billy, good work.

d. dunford said...

I disagree on some of your points.

With all due respect, the rest of the country did not suffer half as much as New York City did post-September 11th. Everywhere else, 9/11 was something that happened on television. There was nothing more surreal than the days and weeks after the 11th in New York City. The process of running through your address book and making sure that everybody in it was still alive - the rest of the country didn't do that. The rest of the country wasn't plastered with desperate posters that had people's names and pictures on it with "missing" on it. September 11th happened to New York. Flat out. Yes, the rest of the country was in pain because of it, but the rest of the country wasn't permeated with the odor of burnt building and people for the first two months after that day. It was so much worse in NYC...so, so much worse.

Your example of the San Fran Giants was tremendously flawed, by the way. Because that World Series was won by...the Oakland A's. It's like the Yanks losing to a team from Hoboken.

That said, do I agree with the "Yankees deserved to win" thought? There's nothing wrong with wanting your fans to be happy, which Brosius wanted. But, fuck, if Red Sox fans or whoever had cheered when the Yanks won a Series, that's hollow. Life needed to go on.

The documentary was great from a NYC perspective, but I agree with your point.

Willie Moe said...

Being the most vehement and bitter Yankees Hater of all I have to say I was rooting against the Yankees, as I do every time they play. I'm pretty sure that saying the Yankees should have won that World Series is ignorant. It would have been another way for New Yorkers to go on thinking they were the center of the frickin universe. And Dunford to say that no one else was calling people to see if they were alive and ok, is just another typical New York attitude. People weren't concerned for friends or relatives on vacation in New York? Or family that moved there? Or college students? The last time I had talked to my parents before the incident there was talks of my job promoting me and moving me to NYC, about 2 blocks or so from the WTC? You don't think they were concerned? I mean I guess not, they aren't New Yorkers, right Dunford? If I had been there and had died, would they have been cheering for the Yankees? I'm guessing not, because it wouldn't have brought me back, the world would keep on a spinning. Were New Yorkers the only ones directly effected? I would have to say no. What about the people in the planes? Or the people near the Pentagon? Was everyone of them New Yorkers? No. And another thing, New York being the largest American city, is it possible that their are a few people who didn't grow up there? How many people who weren't from New York were on there phones, just praying some one would pick up on the other end? If the terrorist attacks were in Boston or Philadelphia or Chicago, would they make as big a deal of it? No, probably not. Should we have been cheering for the Marlins to repeat, after all people have been hit hard by three hurricanes. This was a surreal tragedy, this is true, but would a Yankees win have brought people back, captured the terrorists? You're telling me New Yorkers, who weren't Mets fans of course, weren't uplifted by the two exciting wins and just being there? I apologize for rambling on, but New Yorkers, New York City and the Yankees just piss me off!

Bill said...

Look at my boy Bitter Willie gettin' loose! Attaboy Willie Moe!

Willie Moe said...

Just give me the ball and let me create Billy!

d. dunford said...

Oh, Willie Moe. You know I love you.

But.

The distance makes so much difference. Maybe it's hard to communicate this, but while Sept. 11 DID have an affect on the rest of the country, it really, really fucked with New York City. Where people around the country thought about the one or two people that they knew that were there - in NYC, there were literally dozens of funerals in each neighborhood. 3,000+ of them in total. It's hard to really explain, or do this justice, but it was more than just people you know. It was the people who made your world go around - I lost at least five former co-workers. Not to mention people from my high school, folks from my church, and the like. It sucked. Really, really badly.

If it had happened in any other city, it would have been made a huge deal of. No shit. When was the last time any other city lost 3,000+ on the same day? No matter where it happened.

I'm not saying that everyone else's grief in the wake of 9/11 is invalid. Far from it. It was a national event. But it was a local tragedy on the highest order.

Does that mean that everybody should have been rooting for the Yankees? Fuck no. That's stupid shit.

bojangles said...

Dunford doesn't think terrorism is a major campaign issue.