Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mets vs. Yankees

In the wake of the Subway Series I feel that I might as well say a few words about the state of the Yankees/Mets rivalry. It is, essentially, the opinion of ‘Sam’s Mets blog’ that there is no such thing-- and the perception of one is a result of the travesty that is inter-league play and shameless marketing. In fairness, the marketability of rivalries such as the Yankees and the Mets was one the major factors behind the establishment of inter-league play; but, regardless, the true rivalries are within the divisions: the Yankees and the Red Sox; and the Mets and the Braves or, perhaps some day, the Phillies. Since they don’t play within the same division, or even in the same league, the Yankees and the Mets, in the normal and just course of things, should have nothing to do with each other. But, like two roosters bred and trained from birth for cock fighting, with blades attached to their feet, riled up, and released into the ring, so the Mets and the Yankees have been drawn into something that is called a rivalry, by the marketing minds behind Major League Baseball.

Thus, it is the duty of any true fan to regard match-ups between the two New York teams, and all other inter-league games, with a certain degree of disinterest: rooting for one’s team and wistfully hoping for the day when interleukin play will go the way of three ball walks and the spit-ball.

I still don’t like the Yankees. For one thing, George Steinbrenner is a criminal who made illegal donations to the Nixon campaign and received a presidential pardon form Reagan: if we weren’t living right now in the asshole of history, those two would top the list of worst ever Americans. Fuck Steinbrenner and everything he lays his pudgy little fingers on, even if he weren’t conspicuously obnoxious, shortsighted, and greedy in his management of the team.

Furthermore, in their current incarnation, the Bronx Bombers have been looking to expensive free-agent signings that are geared towards short-term glamour and results, and failing to develop the beginnings of a pitching staff in the minors. The Yankees’ problem this year has been pitching, and paying Roger Clemens a record-breaking amount of money to work for a few months is grotesquely not the answer; unfortunately for the Bombers, the answer is to go back in time and get better prospects. During the best of the Torre era, they were powered by home grown players: Rivera, Jeter and Posada. Say what you will about the Yankees, but those are guys who play the game extremely well, and, particularly Rivera, have benefited the sport with their excellence. Spending more money than anyone else on the likes of Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano and A-Rod, and acting as if this entitled them to the Pennant seems fairly crass and unappealing.

Beyond all this, the Yankees have more championships than anyone else in the history of professional sports, and represent a legacy of amazing dominance. Historically, many, many of the greatest players in the history of the game have worn the Pin-stripes and to not respect that history would be ridiculous. But my instinct is to root for the under-dog, and I am drawn by the unlikely, as much as the excellent, in sports. Following a bumbling and unlucky team somehow more effectively complements my experience of the world: I’m a Mets fan.

And, sharing a city with the Yankees, and Yankee fans, creates certain tensions. On the most basic level, in the late Torre Era, hearing the same complaints and rants ad naeuseum is just plain tiresome—particularly when one is feeling starved and frenzied for information about one’s own team. It is hard putting up with the tedious drama of tensions between A-Rod and Giambi, A-Rod and Jeter, and Carl Pavano and the rest of the team, particularly from and organization that claims to find its strength in an almost corporate culture, and expertly maintained professionalism. Then again, there also is not much to be said for the belligerent fans who derive self-esteem from the depths of Steinbrenner’s pockets.

Anyway, of course I thought that the series went alright, and even though I wish he hadn’t beaten the Mets, you have to feel happy for the kid that the Yankees brought out of the minors on Sunday—walking right into the fabricated cross-town rivalry for his major league debut and throwing such a good game.

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