Today marks the beginning of baseball All-Star break, otherwise known as the worst week for sports all year. Somehow the Mariners would be a playoff team if the season ended today, despite having a negative run differential. I’m sure that will work out great….
Anyway, we live in a deeply divided nation. But I hope we can come together on one issue–that the New York Yankees are the center of all evil in the universe.
Soberly considered, the New York Yankees and their fans present a moral dilemma. Our consciences, naturally abhorring everything abominable, tell us that such things simply ought not exist. And yet we also know that the evil they represent is one we would not really want eradicated. Somehow we depend on it, not because it appeals to some morbid subliminal fascination with the horrific in us, and not even because it teaches us about the world’s deep Darwinian laws, but because it answers to a psychological need.
By exciting in the rest of us that sweet cold loathing that only they induce — that strangely tender malice, at once so delicious and yet so purifying — the Yankees and their followers provide an emotional cleansing. They give us occasion for the discharge of a dark, dangerous passion, but one unburdened by guilt. The detestation that any rational soul spontaneously feels for the Yankees is so innocent, so uncontaminated by spite — just instinctive revulsion before something obscene, like the goat-headed god of the diabolists. And there are few luxuries more gorgeously nourishing than the license to hate with an unclouded conscience.
Certainly I’ve always enjoyed that kind of hate.
I mean, be reasonable: How often, as Derek Jeter’s retirement approached in 2014, were we made to endure the squealing ecstasies of television announcers too bedazzled by the fastidious delicacy of his dainty coupé-chassé en tournant on grounders to his right to notice his minuscule range or flimsy arm? Why were we forced to see him awarded a preposterous two additional Gold Gloves in his dotage when his defense was scarcely better than mediocre in his prime?
Who, moreover, can forget the obligatorily bibulous rhapsodies from sports commentators in the waning days of the old Yankee Stadium in 2008 — grown men dissolving in foaming raptures over a “great tradition” in its twilight or intoning solemn encomiums to the glorious “temple of sport” soon be reduced to dust? Temple, forsooth! More like the largest brothel in the world, being torn down only because a larger, glitzier brothel was being erected across the street. (Really, how does a Yankees fan’s pride in all those purchased championships differ from the self-delusion of a man staggering out of a bawdy house at dawn, complimenting himself on his magnificent powers of seduction?)
Someone needs to apologize to brothels.
Anyway, the Yankees have always represented everything bad about American and continue to do so.
Thus the business of baseball — through greed, profligacy, shortsightedness and an insatiable appetite for immediate gratification — consumes itself by relentlessly allowing its own communal basis to disintegrate beneath it, and by ignoring the needs of future generations.
The analogy is imperfect, but irresistible. America — with its decaying infrastructure, its third-world public transit, its shrinking labor market, its evaporating middle class, its expanding gulf between rich and poor, its heartless health insurance system, its mindless indifference to a dying ecology, its predatory credit agencies, its looming Social Security collapse, its interminable war, its metastasizing national debt and all the social pathologies that gave it a degenerate imbecile and child-abducting sadist as its president — remains the only developed economy in the world that believes it wrong to use civic wealth for civic goods. Its absurdly engorged military budget diverts hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the public weal to those who profit from the military-industrial complex. Its plutocratic policies and libertarian ethos are immune to all appeals of human solidarity. It towers over the world, but promises secure shelter only to the fortunate few.
And so, of course, the Yankees cannot help but be emblematic of everything that characterizes us as a nation and as an idea: a thing gargantuan and heedless, invincible and yet bizarrely fragile and self-destructive. Still, I suppose one must be fair. M.L.B.’s decline, America’s — the Yankees may contribute mightily to the former, but they only epitomize the latter.
Though, truth be told, I would blame them for both if I could.
So would all right thinking people.
Still, America would hardly be much better if other awful franchises such as the Red Sox or Cubs won. It’s the Mariners year, I’m sure of it!