It sure isn’t. The Bronx Bombers bombed all right, and early in the post-season. They haven’t made it to the World Series in four years–normal for most teams, unacceptable for Yankees. We lost our beloved manager, and we’re on pins and needles hoping that Steinbrenner Inc. hires Don Mattingly–a known entity and almost as beloved as Torre–which could avoid further disruption and hopefully stop the bleeding (Posada and Rivera, key players, hinted they might leave if they’re not happy with their new boss).
It’s not just that our own house is in disorder: it’s that theirs–our arch rival, our enemy, the team that carries almost as much history and fan mania as ours–you know who I’m talkin’ about!–is flying high. And that’s an understatement. Not only did the Red Sox win the World Series, but they did so in a sweep, and with more than one ace pitching performance.
But wait, there’s more! The composition of the Red Sox probably isn’t going to change significantly before Opening Day 2008, and maybe not for many years to come. With pitchers Josh Beckett, Dice-K, Hideki Okajima, and closer Papelbon, I don’t see how they can lose. These guys are almost un-hittable.
So what’s everyone talking about this morning, the day after the Sox swept the Rockies? A-Rod‘s announcement to opt out of his contract with New York. Actually, what they’re really talking about is his timing, a pathetic plea to steal attention from the World Series and the Bosox. Baseball analyst Peter Gammon, filing his reports while sitting directly in front of the cavorting Red Sox, was rushed by reporters who wanted his opinion on A-Rod’s move. After a few sentences relating to A-Rod’s possibilities for next season, Gammon noted that the timing of the announcement is a caveat to potential new owners. “A-rod’s never played in a World Series,” Gammon said acidly. “Maybe there’s a reason.”
What an eloquent way of putting it! Beneath this pithy comment lies a wealth of information. The way I read it, Gammon’s saying that the bad vibes Alex Rodriguez brings to a team affects their morale, and, consequently, the quality of their playing. So goodbye and good riddance; maybe the Yankees can pull themselves together now that the source of so much divisiveness is leaving. By the way, I see the SF Giants and Barry Bonds in pretty much the same way…but I’ve said it before, and that’s another post.
Just one last aside on the A-Rod flap: one e-mailer to Mike and Mike in the Morning wrote in to blame the media, rather than A-Rod, for disrupting baseball’s big moment. This is beyond idiotic, and highlights the absurdity of scapegoating The Media for everything that goes wrong in our world. A-Rod makes his announcement and newspapers should just ignore it? Hold onto the information for a day or two? As my mother used to say, people can be so dim-witted.
Back to the World Series, where the poor mis-matched Colorado Rockies, for whom I felt great compassion, were so humiliated. Had I known a few days ago what I’ve only just learned–that the Rockies self-identify as a “Christian team” (a Christian team?) and their sole Jewish player admits, albeit covertly, he’s experienced a bit of anti-Semitism in the locker room, I wouldn’t have wasted one ounce of compassion on them.
In fact, though I hate to admit it, I’m beginning to like some things about the Red Sox. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t resist Manny Ramirez, with his pretty dreds, spaced-out personality and child-like behavior. Ditto for Papelbon. More than the sum of its parts, this team seems to genuinely have fun playing baseball, a refreshing change from the angst over money, winning, and public imagery that plagues so much of the sport. I’m in a fix over here, unable to hate my team’s rival with anything approaching purity. It’s almost like being politically incorrect–a place I’m very familiar inhabiting.