Sammy comments on the post below:
Anyone else get a weird feeling about the Yankees recent suckiness? Like the other shoe's about to drop and they'll reel off 80 in a row or something. I don't like this. If they were .500 that would make sense, but I don't trust this level of horribleness.
Which is really something we can all learn from when it comes to commenting on teh Intarweb. If Sammy had called me out by saying "what is with all this hormonal gushing?" I would have been on the defensive, and rationalized and justified it rather than thinking, "Yes. I really should get back to a mature and rational discussion of baseball now", as Sammy's quiet comment caused me to do.
I also felt bad about that post because of what Amy wrote yesterday about the nature of female sports fandom.
I've done a lot of research lately about the marginalization of female sports fans and how they often have to prove themselves, unfairly, to male fans that they in it for more than butt-ogling. When I was in Florida, I was pretty much asked if I was a groupie. Because I'd have no other reason to attend spring training, right? I'm not going to get on my high horse, I promise I'm not, but it's not always easy to be a female sports fan. For every guy who thinks it makes you hot, there's one who is intimidated by it, another who won't take your opinion seriously, and another who can't get past treating you like a novelty. Sometimes you DO have more to prove.
I felt real guilt when I read that. Had I set female sports fans back? Had I played into the stereotype?
Then again, I reasoned, if there were women of equivalent athletic ability and physical attractiveness playing a sport as major and widely followed as either professional football and baseball, the male sports fan would be unrepentant in his drooling.
Here's what I've learned about sexism: you can't win. That's the whole point. So you might as well do what you feel is right.
That said, I still have some measure of guilt about what I wrote yesterday in a separate vein: it was ignoring the elephant in our collective living room right now. The New York Yankees.
While I haven't posted much about their current state, I have been following my favorite Yankees blog (okay, the only Yankees blog I read), Bronx Banter. And I have to say that while a part of me feels the schadenfreude Kristen wrote about recently, this is what I found myself posting to BB yesterday:
while I can't just say "chin up", I can say that I really am not taking much pleasure in the Yankees' downfall this season. Last season, yes. But not like this. In my opinion, our rivalry is better when it is that--a rivalry. When both teams are competitive, you get Apocalyptic Baseball like both of the past two ALCS. When things are unbalanced, it's not as entertaining IMHO.
Any thoughts as to whether playing the Sox so early was detrimental to both teams? The Sox are doing better right now, but they aren't really tearing up the league, either. I think things are better when a series between BOS and NYY comes along around...well, now, when both teams can put aside their previous performance and play "up" for the rivalry. Last July 24 for the Sox is a good example.
Anyway...I still think there are more similarities between Sox and Yankees fans than differences. Maybe that's why we so often don't get along...
I wan to make sure that those who have taken time for a healthy gloat know that I am not trying to chastise them. But for me, the Chris House incident made me realize that as long as the Sox / Yankees mentalities kept ingraining themselves to the point of genuine hostility toward another entire group of people based, essentially, on their baseball caps, violence on and off the field would keep escalating until someone was seriously hurt or killed.
The fight between Varitek and A-Rod was a pivotal event last season, and I do have a full-color picture of it still posted on my refrigerator. But things like it have ceased to be a rare or even periodic occurrence. It seems that every time the two teams play, there is actual violence, in the stands, on the field, and it begins to detract from the game.
The fact of the matter, as I have written before, is that we need the Yankees, and they need us. Neither team would have remotely the same history without the other. Neither team would have such a deep desire to remain competitive without the other. And there is competition. And then there is an excuse to belittle others.
It drives me crazy when people actually feel morally superior to someone else because of what team they root for. I'm talking about the "Yankees fans are arrogant" and "Red Sox fans are classless" memes, and they happen on both sides, and I have been a participant in them. But the moment a fan reached on the field and a player reached into the stands in anger was the line for me. Things need to change. We need to start realizing that the Yankees and their fans are human, and they need to start realizing that the longer they rationalize their own shortcomings as the Red Sox' classlessness or stupidity, they will lose.
Is that what we want? I can't speak for you, but for me, the answer's no.
To me, there is a note of the superstitious in Sammy's question. As if the Yankees are a horror-movie monster merely playing dead, waiting for the dumb ingenue to lay a shaking hand on it to check for its pulse. While I do hold similar superstitions despite myself at times, in reality I know that the New York Yankees, while mythical, are not magic. They are a ball club in business to win games and draw fans. There is no earthly reason for them to be somehow playing possum; no reason whatsoever to suppose that they are not playing to the utmost of their ability right now in order to win. That they are failing is unusual in Yankees history, but not so impossible as to suggest otherworldly motives for it.
It's the nature of Red Sox fans, of course, to wait for that other shoe. I've done it. When I heard about the team plane almost crashing in Washington, I actually saw it, for even the briefest of moments, as a narrow avoidance of our necessary comeuppance for the joy we experienced last season. It's an attitude deeply ingrained in New Englanders' collective consciousness, and we've had only one deviation from the historical norm that has reinforced it--hardly enough to rid us of it entirely. So it's understandable to be superstitious. But not necessarily right.
I, personally, would be more inclined to keep the Yankees on my radar if they were .500, contrary to what Sammy said. After all, we've seen how a .500 team can win it all. A .500 team can go either way. But for the Yankees to be in the basement spells a serious problem for the club moving forward, and they are nearly at the point where they may not be realistically able to dig themselves out of the hole.
While I can envision a comeback scenario that would give the Yankees-Red Sox story another measure of intrigue, to me the banal reality of the situation is that the Yankees, having largely gutted their farm system and cash reserves (even their money is finite) in order to win at all costs, find themselves with aging and overpaid free agent purchases bought more for their individual talents than for their ability to mesh into a cohesive team unit. There are no Dave Roberts on their team. There are no Doug Mirabellis. There are no Mark Bellhorns.
It will not last forever--eventually Cashman will either be fired or will devote more energies to building the team from the ground up. The Boss will either die or retire. The Yankees will rise again, of course--the winningest team in sports history, in the largest market for their sport in the world, can't realistically do otherwise. But I believe genuinely that for at least this season and possibly for a few seasons to come, the Yankees' field is laying fallow.
In other words, Sammy: yes. We really beat them. And the most surprising thing about that might be an eventual discovery that, in fact, we miss them.
What do the rest of you think?