This was just a beautiful day.
The bane of my baseball life is now eliminated from the American League Division Series. Yes, I am talking about the NY Yankees (also known as the Motherpuggin' Yankees everywhere else in the country).
Last night, the Detroit Tigers defeated them 3 games to 1 in the ALDS, sending the Yankee hellspawn back to the Bronx with a $1.2 billion dollar receipt over the last 6 years and no World Series championship to show for it. It goes to show that you cannot throw money at the wall and expect a world championship to grow out of the dirt just because you collect all the good players from across the league and around the world.
The Yankees line-up reminds me of that kid in the neighborhood who SOMEHOW got all the good baseball cards while you were stuck with the 13 copies of some Red Sox guy who only lasted 2 innings back in 1982. This kid would have whole team sets and rookie cards of dudes who became genuine superstars. This kid would stick his cards in your face and demand that you trade him the few good cards you managed to find over the last 6 months AND some cash OR some really hot G.I. JOE or Transformers figure. All so you could get that rare Bucky Dent or Reggie Jackson or Jim Palmer card you needed so badly.
That kid grew up to be George Steinbrenner.
Other than the fact that Steinbrenner was a close friend and contributor of Richard Nixon's, there are lots of good reasons to hate that man and his misbegotten baseball franchise:
1) You can't buy a championship. Baseball, like life, is very unpredictable. Tiger's manager Jim Leyland said it best, "Sometimes you never know what is going to happen. Sometimes, you can get a couple of friends together, and a few more people show up, and you wind up having the biggest party of the year. And sometimes, you can plan a party for two months, and then no one shows up."
Steinbrenner hasn't learned that there is one constant factor that creeps in that no sabermetrics, no expensive payroll, and no amount of double-dealing can duplicate: Heart. The Yankee teams that won the World Series between 1996-2000 had heart and money. And there ain't much that's going to stop heart and money working in sync. Unless you count the 1996 ALCS and that bastard punk Jeffrey Maier and that infamous call that kept my beloved Baltimore Orioles out of the World Series. Speaking of...
2) The 1996 ALCS -- Baltimore Orioles vs. NY Yankees. I love my Baltimore Orioles like no other sports team. I have been an Orioles fan since 1979 and was there for their 1983 World Series win. I have followed them through their highs and lows and back again and will never stop loving them. So of course, when they put together that awesome squad back in 1996 that included Robbie Alomar, Brady Anderson, Cal Ripken Jr., etc, I was certain that they were going to go all the way. Until that awful night when that bastard punk destroyed everything.
Before I continue, you can see it here for yourself: ORIOLES GET SCREWED BY A BASTARD PUNK.
Bottom of the 8th inning, Orioles leading 4-3, Armando Benitez pitching to Derek Jeter. Benitez deals and Jeter hits it to the right field wall. Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco drifts back to the wall and raises his glove to catch the ball, only to have another glove block the ball and deflect it into the stands. The umpire rules it as a HOME RUN despite the CLEAR EVIDENCE that a fan had reached into THE FIELD OF PLAY.
I am not a baseball genius, but I do vaguely remember that if a fan reaches into the field of play during a baseball game, then either the play is invalidated or ruled an out depending on the circumstances. At the very least Jeter should have been made to redo the pitch with the original pitch count restored.
That didn't happen. Why? Because the Yanks get away with too much.
3) Bizarre umpiring calls. Anyone who has ever watched a baseball season revolving around the American League East will tell you that the Yankees get away with entirely too much. You will see umpires continually call opposing pitches well inside of the strike zone as balls, and if a Yankee pitcher throws the ball into the dirt 20 inches off the home plate, that somehow becomes a strike.
There was this one time a few years back when the Yanks were playing the Red Sox, and a Yankee infielder completely MISSED the guy he was supposed to tag by about 5 feet and this was called an out. The thousands in attendance, the millions watching the TV, the players, coaches, and just about every sports reporter in America saw this except for the umpire standing no more than 10 feet away from the incident.
That's just one of many, many times the Yanks have gotten extremely questionable calls in their favor. Which, in itself, isn't the worst thing in the world if it didn't happen all the time and during crucial moments like, say... the 1996 ALCS vs. the Baltimore Orioles.
4) ESPN and the bandwagon fans. That's actually redundant. There is nothing more sickening than watching those "broadcasters" at ESPN kiss the Yankees' asses year after year. They behave as if it is impossible for the Yankees to lose. If Baseball Tonight is on for an hour, expect about 22 minutes of Yankees and Red Sox footage before you hear about other teams and scores. And if the Yankees lose, they never say the OTHER TEAM was better, they make remarks like, "Boy, the Yankees definitely let this one slip away."
They didn't LET IT slip away, they lost to a better team that night. Remember... baseball? Life? Unpredictable.
Then, compounding the sociopathic syncophantic urges of ESPN's biased journalism are the endless throngs of people running around wearing Yankees hats, jackets, glasses, sneakers, backpacks, wristwatches, gloves, scarves, and wristbands. These people make me sick. Not because they are Yankee fans, but because they have become Yankee fans only in the last ten years.
You see, whenever any team in any sport wins a world title, the next year, you see a conspicuous rise in the amount of jerseys, hats, jackets, etc. bearing that team's logo. It happened with the White Sox and the Miami Heat last year, and it will happen again over the next few months. With the Yankees, they won the World Series from 1996-2000, each year, gaining a massive number of new fans who previously didn't watch sports, or were too busy following another winning franchise.
Now, all of a sudden, Yankees fans are all over the place. People who knew NOTHING about the Yankees before 1996, and know nothing about baseball except for the Yankees. Sitting around these people at live games is the most excrutiating thing you can imagine next to having to clean up behind Britney Spears and her kids.
People say to me, "What about the kids who grew up here? How can you be angry at them?" First off, who cares what kids think? They're KIDS! America is the only country in the world where kids have rights. In most of the world, kids don't go to school, have to pray they ain't gonna be sold off or stolen into sex slavery, have to dodge bullets in war-torn nations, school teachers are encouraged to beat them senseless, and have next to no options. Here, kids have fast food meals named in their honor as well as entire days at ballparks dedicated to them.
Kids have no real excuse to be Yankees fans after a certain age. Let's say 12. At 13, they should have the good sense to support a team that usually tries hard but doesn't always win. The Mets, Cubs, Orioles, Reds, Angels, Athletics, Giants, Marlins, Indians, Twins, Bewers, Diamondbacks, Mariners... and the list goes on and on.
Yankees fans are also silly. They behave like gorillas except without the manners. I have been to Yankee games and have seen fans turn on each other, the players, and the coaches all in the same breath. They boo the most expensive player in history (A-Rod) because he doesn't always come through in tight situations or makes errors at 3rd base a lot.
Guess what, A-Rod isn't a third baseman, he is a SHORTSTOP. But because the Yankees have an overrated, whiny, pretty boy at shortstop already, it goes to show that Steinbrenner made yet another dumb mistake. A-Rod puts up amazing numbers year after year. But because Derek Jeter whines and complains, A-Rod is put into a position that he isn't suited for. And god forbid someone makes Jeter upset.
Supporting the Yankees is like supporting the rich kids in those 1980's college movies. They were always blonde, racist, jerky, mean, and snotty. They were always played by that blonde bad guy from the Karate Kid. And the loveable band of losers somehow finds a way to beat them at their own game at the last minute. Oh wait, that did happen in real life. It was called the 2004 ALCS vs. the Red Sox.
5) Back to money issues. Steinbrenner has destroyed the free agent market. Almost every star player and his agent knows that they can use other MLB franchises to leverage or set the market cost too high while the Yankees will come along and pay $10 million more than the highest offered contract. It's happened repeatedly over the last 7 years. And if they don't wind up signing with the Yankees, they end up on a team that just spent too damn much for one man. (I.E. Hard throwing left-handed closer B.J. Ryan to the Toronto Blue Jays. $40 million for a closing pitcher? You gotta be kidding me.)
Then when you look at who he has on the team: Jeter, Giambi, Sheffield, A-Rod, Posada, Johnson, Mussina, Abreu, Matsui, Cano, Williams, and Melky; it somehow become much less fair to the rest of baseball. Even when teams have to re-adjust to being in a reduced market with less talent available, whomever they develop get signed away to the Yankees, committing that team to spend another 3-5 years working their way out of the cellar.
For the Yankees not to win over the last 6 years proves that having all the money in the world doesn't buy you happiness. Just ask George Steinbrenner, he is out $1.2 billion with nothing but a bunch of excuses and a compliant media sharing in his emptiness.