Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Sad Day For Yankee Haters

Original Post date - Monday, October 2, 2006

This is a sad sad day for Yankee haters, of which I am one of the biggest ones you will meet.

The title of "Yankee Hater" isn't confined to my fellow Red Sox fans. We're everywhere.
I remember during the 2002 playoffs, I was visiting my girlfriend (and now wife) in Walla Walla WA. At a local bar, the TV was showing the Yankees being eliminated by the Angels. The bar was going nuts with people cheering... and I guarantee you it wasn't because Walla Walla is a hot bet for Angels fans.

I remember going to a game in Oakland in 2005. The JumboTron showed Derek Jeter doing a public service announcement telling kids to stay off of drugs. He was booed so loudly you would have thought the PA announced "Ladies and Gentlemen, Osama Bin Laden and his new girlfriend... YOUR DAUGHTER!"

When a baseball movie needs a bad guy, the good guys usually play the Yankees.
Even the enemy little league team in "Bad News Bears" were called the Yankees.

There was never a Broadway musical called "Damn Brewers."

Hating the Yankees is a baseball tradition that has been passed down from generation and something I hope to give to my sons like an heirloom.

We need the Yankees to be good enough to be relevant. In terms of baseball's popularity, the two most recent low points have been the late 1960s to early 1970s and the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Not by coincidence the Yankees were lousy and not relevant during that stretch. Like a James Bond film, baseball need a good villain.

But we also need to see the Yankees tumble. And it is fun to watch these recent Yankees fall.
The teams that won the World Series in the 1990s and 2000 were carefully put together from the farm system, smart trades and the occasional free agent pick up.

But now they are a caricature of themselves, slurping up every big name free agent possible, making the big off season splash that gets the universal cry of "It's Not Fair!" from the rest of the baseball world.

Since winning the World Series in 2000 the Yankees have brought in Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson, and each time fans across baseball scream bloody murder.

And every year since 2000, the Yankees season ends with the glorious shot of Derek Jeter leaning over the railing watching another team celebrate.
And right afterwards, the sports writers in New York recycle the same articles saying "The Yankees need to build a TEAM rather than sign STARS."
And all the Yankee fans agree... until the next sexy free agent is signed and everyone screams bloody murder again.

"Not fair! They got Johnny Damon!"

Lather.
Rinse.
Repeat.

Well the scenario for the next Yankees post season face plant was shaping up perfectly.

They'd face the Twins. Johann Santana is unbeatable, so game 1 would go to the Twins.
That would mean the Twins would have to win one of middle 3 games to force a due or die game with Santana on the mound for game 5.

And Randy Johnson's back acted up.
And he stubbornly will demand to pitch.

And Yankee fans have the misconception that Randy Johnson is a big game starter because, well, twice he has crushed the Yankees in the post season (with the 1995 Mariners and 2001 Diamondbacks) going 5-0 overall including twice coming out of the bullpen to win a deciding game.

However in playoff games NOT against the Yankees he is 2-7, including getting pounded by the Cardinals in 2002 and by the Angels last year.
And he despite winning 17 games this year, his ERA is a fat 5.00, which means the Yankees just pounded the opposition during his starts... which would be hard to do against Minnesota's staff.

So there it was... Twins win games 1 and 3 and have Santana rested and ready for game 5...

The Yankee hater in me could SMELL IT!

But then it happened...

That scenario required the Detroit Tigers to clinch their division. And in order to do that they had to win one (ONE!!!!) game at home (!!!!!!!) against the Kansas City Royals (!!!!!!!!!!)
Something they couldn't do.

They had a 6-0 lead on Sunday.
They blew it.

They had bases loaded 1 out in extra innings.
Couldn't drive home the run.

They got swept at home with a division title on the line by a staggeringly inept team, whose lone "All Star" was 10-10 with an ERA north of 5.00.

So the Twins spend exactly 1 day alone in first place, but in reality, they spend an eternity there. Nobody will remember the Tigers were in first place for 4 months of the season.
All that will be recorded is that the Twins won the division and the Tigers are the Wild Card.

If they won one game at home against the Royals, they would host the A's. Not an easy series by any stretch of the imagination, but more manageable than on the road... in the Bronx.

They have free swinging hitters who will be chasing balls in the dirt and young pitchers who are running out of gas up against a line up that kind find room for Melky Cabrera, Craig Wilson and Bernie Williams.

Of course what are the chances of a team that won 95 games to lose 7 in a row?
They way they played last week, I'd say pretty great.

This series might be over in TWO games. They could be beaten so badly that they have to forfeit game 3.

And now the Twins are off to play Oakland, who are deep enough in pitching that they might get by Minnesota.

All the while, the Yankees have a pretty clear path to the World Series and will play whatever tomato can has the misfortune of representing the National League in the World Series (which I will address in my next post) and then Mussina, Giambi, A Fraud et al will get their rings and talk about how wonderful it is to be embraced by Yankee fans forever.

And Yankee haters like me will vomit... from Maine to Walla Walla.

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