by John Furgele
When the Yankees are eliminated from the playoffs, it is always fascinating to turn to the YES Network for the breakdown, the whys and hows of the painful defeat. As I have said, it has to be hard to be a Yankee fan/employee/anybody related to the organization. If they win, it is relief, if they lose, it is an utter failure of epic proportions. And, the YES Network only make exacerbates the concept.
Michael Kay, the lead announcer for Yankess games says it every time the Yanks are taken down, “I think the Yankees are the better tem, but in this series insert team played better. I guess we have to come to accept that in American sports. When you win, you have overcome all the obstacles, you are gritty, determined and just would not accept losing. But, when you lose, it is never because the better team won, itis impossible to tip your hat and acknowledge that you just plain got beat.
In a way, that’s what makes the Yankees so delicious. If you love the Yankees, you love the fact that they—or those who work for them—never admit defeat, even when they are defeated. It’s that arrogance that makes them a brand, not just another team in Major League Baseball. There are 29 teams in Major League Baseball, and then, there are the Yankees. I would think that only Manchester United of the English Premier League compares to them and it’s a vague comparison since the United States is very much immune to world soccer.
That same arrogance makes you despise the Yankees as well. If you hate them, you take complete delight that the team with the $170 million payroll can’t win a playoff series. You tune into the YES Network to hear the magic words, that the Yankees lost to a superior team. You want to hear it from Michael Kay, who in many ways, personifies the Yankee arrogance. Even though you are satisfied with the result of the series, for some reason, it is not complete until Kay admits that the overpriced Yanks were taken out by the better team. But, you don’t hear it. You hear what losers always say—excuses. As Kay stated, “one big hit here, the Yankees move on to the ALCS,” or,”The Yankees outscored Detroit, but couldn’t win the close games.” In some ways, you take sheer delight in listening to the excuses, on the other hand, it makes you seethe, because you know that excuses are for losers and the reason for tuning in is that you want to hear them concede. That’s why the Yankees are so polarizing, and so captivating.
As mentioned, I don’t think there’s much fun in being a Yankee fan. The regular season is somewhat of a snoozefest because in Yankee land, the mission statement (borrowed from Kay) is to win the World Series, anything else is a failure. Contrast that to the Tampa Bay Rays, who were absolutely thrilled to just make the playoffs and after losing to Texas in four games, their leader, Evan Longoria, said “we won’t hang our heads, we had a great run and to make the playoffs means we had a great season.” If Derek Jeter said that, he would likely be reprimanded. So, as fans in other cities get giddy over bir regular season wins, Yankee regular season wins only make the fans more nervous. Each win means that they’re one step closer to the playoffs and also one step closer to failure. To me, that’s no way to live, but that’s life in Yankeeland.
What will the Yankees do now that they completed another season of failure? Does CC Sabathia opt out and seek an long term deal? Hopefully, the Yankees call the bloated Sabathia’s bluff and let him opt out and go and find a better deal. But, because the Yankees fear losing more than any other team, they will likely overpay to keep him. When Derek Jeter became a free agent, they let him test the free agent waters and still responded by overpaying him a three year $51 million contract. Yes, he is one of the best of all time, but had the Yankees let him go, he would have been lucky to get $10 million from another team.
A-Rod looks broken down. Since he stopped using PEDs, he has gotten hurt each and every year. He misses significant time each year, but the scared Yankees reacted to his opt out/opt in by paying him through age 42. He’s not done, but he will never be the dominate A-Rod that he was eight years ago.
But, this happens all the time in baseball. The Nats overpaid for Jayon Werth, the Red Sox for Carl Crawford, the Yankees for Jeter anf Rodriguez. No matter who signs Albert Pujols, somebody will overpay for him, too, because that’s what teams do. Is Pujols worth it? On the field, yes, but why give him a seven or eight year deal, when you know that after four years, his best days will be behind him. As Pujols and the Cards get ready for Game 5 of their Division Series, Pujols had to be excited about last night’s games. With the Yankees out before the World Series, he knows that they have failed and maybe, just maybe, it will be the Yankees, out of panic will offer him the big contract so they can climb the mountain once again. Had the Yankees kept winning, they likely would have decided not to pursue him. Of course, the odds of Pujols landing in the Bronx weren’t high to begin with, but now, there is a chance, a sliver that they may get involved, because that’s what the Yankees do.
Call it arrogance, call it cockiness, call it cleverness, but that’s why as much as one hates them, you love seeing the Yankees playing October baseball. When they win, the hater says that they’re supposed to win; when they lose you can take delight, even though the guys at YES Network won’t give you what you’re looking for.