On the Yankees

The Yankees were eliminated in four straight games by the Detroit Tigers. Four and out and into the off-season, pitchers and catchers will report to Spring training in February. I am both fascinated and repulsed by the Yankees as a team and as a sports phenomenon. If you had all the money in the world so you could buy all the best players, who would you get, and how could you possibly lose? Well, this year the Yankees didn’t lose very often, and they won the Eastern division. Baltimore pressed hard during the final weeks, but the Yankees can always find a way to win–the best hitters, the best pitchers, the best fielders in the league. I suppose that all leagues need their bullies, their high class hitters in their tailored uniforms and luxury club house. The Yankees create conflict, drama, suspense, romance, comedy, pathos in a continuous narrative of wins and losses, mostly wins, highly charged in a mediatic circus that runs 24/7 during the baseball season. Even when the Yankees lose and get eliminated, the media will make a bigger deal out of that than the fact that Tigers are going back to the World Series. In other words, even when they lose, they are a bigger story than the team that beats them. No matter how they play, they always get coverage from the national media, and they are the object of speculation and analysis, interviews and opinions, and the highlights always feature both their triumphs and their failures, making no distinction between either. When one of their players is injured, dates a movie star, hits for the cycle, or makes an ad for underarm deodorant, it’s national news. One gets a little tired of always hearing about the Yankees, who is playing well, who is going to disappear, who they are going to buy next. Today the Yankees were eliminated by the Tigers, but no one was interviewing the Tigers, they were listening to the Yankees manager talk about the loss. The Yankees are a good team, they should win, so it’s surprising when they collapse. I guess that’s why they play the games because you never know how they might turn out on any given day. The Yankees are supposed to be the heroes of the narrative, the knights that always slay the dragon, that always overcome the opposition. They always occupy the head of the table, get fed first, always get the girl, always ride off into the sunset at the end of the season. All of the rest of the players in the league are just a bunch of also-rans that carry the Yankees bags and act as patsies and victims for the heroic men in pinstripes. The problem with these expectations and hyper-narratives is that they don’t always jive with reality because in the end the Yankees are just men, fallible, weak, tragic, just like all the rest and deserve no more respect than any other team or player in the leagues. I imagine, though, the media is pissed because they won’t make as much money off of a non-Yankees World Series because now the New York area won’t tune in to see Detroit and St. Louis. The commentators will continue to discuss the Yankee “collapse” and wring as much blood out of that stone as they can even while the season goes on without their heroes.