Friday, October 12, 2007

How 'bout them Yankees?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The Yankees lost to the Indians 6-4 on Monday, and that was that. It was Game 4 of the ALDS, and, with the win, Cleveland took the series 3-1.

I'm not a Yankees fan -- I grew up an Expos fan, but, now that they are no longer (and, no, I cannot root for the Nationals), I have come to like the Jays, my hometown team -- but I have long preferred them to the Red Sox and have generally respected them throughout the Joe Torre era, especially a decade ago, and less so in recent years, with the inflated payroll and the overpaid, overrated, aging ex-superstars. And I was rooting for them to beat the Indians, more in anticipation of a Yanks-Sox series, for the Indians are a likeable team, and I will root for them over the Sox. But too bad, I thought, for guys like Mussina and Posada, Matsui and Jeter, Rivera and Pettitte, Wang and Cano, Hughes and Chamberlain, less for guys like Abreu and Damon, not at all for guys like Clemens and Giambi, both of whom, for different reasons, I dislike.

And what of Alex Rodriguez, A-Rod? Will he be back? Does it matter? Would the Yankees be better off without him (and his huge salary?) He may be the best player in baseball right now. I like his game, but I can't say I like him. Respect and admiration, but not much else.

For hardcore baseball fans like me, though, the Yankees are nothing if not good drama, better in loss than in victory, and it will be interesting to see how they respond to yet another year of disappointment -- for them, if not for us. Will Torre be fired? Will they resign their free agents -- Posada and Rivera? Will they let Abreu walk? Will Pettitte leave, again? And, of course, what about A-Rod? Will he opt out of the remainder of his massive, bloated contract and test the waters of free agency for what could bring him a new deal at around $30 million a year?

If, like me, the plight of the Yankees interests you, check out Mark Starr's advice column at Newsweek. And, while you're at it, check out Alan Massie's semi-serious comparison of the Yanks to Bush's America at TNR: Bush is to blame for the Yankees' plight. Consider this: "[T]he Bronx Bombers haven't won a World Series under a Republican president since the Eisenhower administration. Just seven of their 26 titles have been won while the GOP possessed the White House." Coincidence? Maybe not. If you like the Yanks, vote Democratic. (If you don't, vote Democratic anyway and hope there's no connection.)

Anyway, the whole point of this post, now much longer than intended, was to put up this striking photo, which accompanies the NYT article linked above. It's A-Rod in the dugout after Monday's game, dejected. It is awash in pathos and melancholy -- the sad, lonely superstar, suffering in solitude, hidden from, yet surrounded by, the qualitatively different dejection of his, and his team's, fans. Whether you feel sorry for him, however, along with his team, is up to you.

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