Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Damn Yankees

"Boo! 'ANKEES."

Eli 3.2 is a Yankee hater.

That's my boy.

I hate the Yankees with a bloodlust usually reserved for invading aliens who have publicly declared their intentions to exterminate our species.

Quick--which of the following does not belong?
--Mary Tyler Moore
--Mary Poppins
--Mother Teresa
--Darth Vader
--The Yankees
If I only get one answer, I've got to go with the Yankees.

I didn't turn Eli 3.2 into a Yankees hater, although I had it on the list. No, it was our babysitter's boyfriend, a fine fellow who occasionally reads these very pages, who explained to Eli that there was light and dark in the world of sports, and the dark side consisted of--the Yankees (and maybe Manchester United, but I'm not qualified to make that judgment). So now when Eli sees the Yankees, he immediately says "Boo! 'ANKEES."

I'm so proud I almost tear up just thinking about it.

I've watched most of the last three games of the Yankees-Red Sox series. In case you've somehow missed this, the Yankees had a 3-0 lead in the best of seven series. No team in the history of baseball has ever come back to win a series when they're down 0-3--no one has ever even forced a seventh game.

Until now.

Over a dizzying three days, the Red Sox have won three of the most dramatic games I've ever seen to pull even. And game seven is tonight.

Now if you're not a sports fan, you might be wondering why I hate the Yankees so much. From their inception, the Yankees have had enormous financial advantages over every other team in baseball. They are the silver spoon babies. Their payroll this year is $182 million dollars. Their payroll is more than the payrolls of the five lowest payroll teams combined. There are only five other teams in the league whose payrolls are more than half the size of the Yankees. The Red Sox have the second highest payroll in the league and it's sixty million dollars less.

I don't root for overdogs. I despise them. It's in my blood, somehow.

I hate the Yankees so much that, for years, I wouldn't watch one of their playoff games unless they were facing elimination--and behind. If they caught up, I turned off the television, because I wasn't going to watch them win.

It's been excruciating watching these games, and not because of the drama. I'm not much of a baseball fan anymore, because the pace of the game has progressively slowed until it's at a standstill. Last night's game was the standard nine innings and lasted three hours and fifty minutes.

That gust of wind you felt was paint drying as it rushed by.

In the 1950's, that same game would have taken an hour less to play. Today there are more dead spaces during a game than a comedian performing in a morgue.

Then there's FOX. As if baseball hadn't already done enough to ruin itself, FOX ups the ante with their coverage. Here's a blow-by-blow of what happens when FOX covers a baseball game. Please note: all sound effects between pitches are sampled from Rosie the Robot of The Jetsons.
--the pitcher pitches. Be sure and notice the massive digital adboard behind home plate. There's nothing that says 'sports' like an advertisement for 'My Big Fat Stupid Boss.'
--on the way to the plate, if the pitch is faster than 95mph, the radar gun on the scoreboard overlay bursts into flames.
--when the ball hits the catcher's mitt, if the catcher doesn't burst into flames, cut away immediately.
--Extreme Close-up (ECU): fan praying (Hold for two seconds).
--ECU: fan talking on cell phone (two seconds).
--ECU: fan choking on hot dog. Man behind him performs Heimlich maneuver (two seconds).
--ECU: player on bench, spitting sunflower seeds (two seconds). Scoreboard overlay sound effect (beep).
--ECU: fan stabbing usher (two seconds)
--ECU: player adjusting package. Nods after successful effort (two seconds). Scoreboard overlay sound effect (whoosh).
--ECU: fan sleeping (two seconds).
--ECU: pitcher's face. Visible pore damage (two seconds). Scoreboard overlay sound effect (beep-beep)
--ECU: fan signing pact with the devil, guaranteeing Yankee defeat (two seconds). The devil sells out his own. Remember that.
--ECU: catcher's face (two seconds).
--in the middle of the pitcher's wind-up, return to the game.

You think I'm kidding. Only barely. It's like watching a direct video feed of Attention Deficit Disorder. FOX shows over a thousand close-ups during a game, and eight hundred of them are of total strangers. And FOX insists on using sound effects for every single thing that happens with the scoreboard overlay.

Last night I was privileged to witness one of the greatest Yankee-hating moments in baseball history. Alex Rodriguez, yet another in a long line of superstar hired guns, ran down the first base line, and just before he would have been tagged out by Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo, he slapped at Arroyo's glove like a ten-year-old girl in a fight. The ball came out, the first base umpire's view was blocked, and Rodriguez was called safe. A run scored and that pulled the Yankees within one run. In the past, this heinous miscarriage of justice would have gone uncorrected, because the Yankees have always gotten the most bizarre pieces of good fortune during games. This time, though, the umpires conferenced--and made the obvious and correct call, which was that Rodriguez was out due to interference. The runner that scored was sent back to second base.

Here's the part I like the most. Rodriguez, instead of shrugging his shoulders and accepting that his slap-fight impersonation had been detected, acted like he had just been sentenced to Death Row for a crime he hadn't committed. I can't wait to see his next public service announcement: "Hello, I'm Alex Rodriguez, I make twenty million dollars a year playing baseball, and I act like a little bitch."

Later, he said that running with his hands above his shoulders facing forward was part of his 'regular running motion.' Yeah, if you're a third grader running away from boy cooties.

Maybe the Red Sox won't win tonight. There are a hundred and eighty-two million reasons why they won't.

But a guy can dream.

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