Bye-Bye, Joe (*Smirk*)
I hope millions of you out there are, like I am, savoring last night’s defeat of the New York Yankees at the hands of the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Championship. As an old Baltimore Orioles fan (and thus an avowed Yankee hater), the site of Joe Torre’s long, brooding, oh-my-god-I’m-so-screwed face both during and after the game as Cleveland “bitchslapped” the Bronx Bombers in their own backyard was especially gratifying. While some might quibble with George Steinbrenner’s dropping a dime on ol’ Joe before Game 3 in announcing to the press and the universe that Joe had better have his resume ready for circulation if he lost the series, I really think Joe had to have seen it coming. You see, when you lead a team that, along with its fans, believes that it has a birthright to a World Series slot and when you, your team, and the fan base act accordingly (i.e., Guinness record-setting smack talk), you set a high bar for yourself. You lay mines for yourself to stumble on. You let loose a giant petard to hoist yourself up with. You piss in the well that you know you’ll probably have to drink from. In short, the sympathy lamp cannot possibly be lit for you among any reasonable gathering of human beings.
New Yorkers in general are, for lack of a more polite term and as anyone who has ever lived or traveled in the Big Apple well knows, seven-star assholes. Seven-star assholes who believe that the universe revolves around them and their city. Seven-star assholes who believe that “the chip” that makes them who they are (and surgical removal of which would probably kill them) also serves as a magic magnet to give them what they want, when they want it. Seven-star assholes who, for all of their façade as the most cosmopolitan of people, are remarkably out of tune with the rest of the country. The goodwill extended toward New Yorkers in the wake of 9/11 was as ephemeral as soft-serve ice cream in July, with New Yorkers, just by being themselves, doing as much to erase that precious goodwill as quickly as possible. This is now reflected in the rest of the nation’s attitude toward the Wormy Apple’s baseball prima donnas. Like the city they represent, they are still milking the residue of that vanished 9/11 goodwill as hard as their crooked former mayor, whose smarmy, arrogant face graced both of the Yankee home games like an infected pimple on a zit-ridden teenager’s face. And by the way, for God’s sake, will Major League Baseball please put a stop to the insipid practice of performing “God Bless Amerika” during the seventh-inning stretch? While this was a very touching and understandable reaction to the events of 9/11 in the days and weeks following that tragedy, it's well past the point of having played itself out. This faux patriotism wrapped up in the most obnoxious strains of jingoism has grown extremely tiresome. Isn’t the playing of the national anthem before first pitch homage enough to the almight leviathan State? Bring back “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, PLEASE! (And by the way, why in God’s name has Dr. Ronan Tynan of the Irish Tenors been named the de facto voice of GBA during the stretch? Is Dr. Tynan an American citizen? If not, why is he being asked to front for American jingoism at a baseball game? )
Anyway, now that the Bronx Bums have been put in their place and a “dynasty” (oh, please!) ended, those of us professional Yankee haters can rest in the smug satisfaction that King George’s firing of Joe Torre will have even wider repercussions than creating a management vacancy. Several players destined for free agency next year have already made it clear that if Joe goes, they go too (A-Rod apparently among them, hopefully to the Red Sox, the Indians, or the Tigers). The loss of these half-dozen players are unlikely to lead to replacements with other free-agent superstars in time to make a difference for next season, so it’s very likely that for the first time in a decade and a half we’ll see a Yankees team that rests at or near the AL East bottom for a season and that will not even by a factor in post-season contention in 2008. How sweet the music! Let it play loud and long!