Monday, June 4, 2007

Sweet, I've Turned Into An Asshole

This guy seems like fun.

(I apologize that this is going to be a little long, but it's a part of my healing process)

For most of my years, I have defined Yankees fans as jerks who think they are entitled to greatness because their organization tells them they are great. During the more formative years of my life, anytime the Sox did anything good, I would be reminded of 1918 even though few of the people citing that year could tell me what it meant, fewer could tell me who the Sox beat that year and even fewer could spell the number "18." That was one of the great things about the 2004 season. Not only did it do away with Yanks' fans most clever cheers, but it was done in such an historic fashion that I figured the taunts would have to subside to a degree. I mean, no matter how you slice it, NO ONE had ever come back from 0-3 and therefore the Yanks were the ONLY TEAM IN HISTORY to ever lose after being up 3-0. It was a defeat capable of humbling any team's fan base. Or so I thought.

In response to the historic 2004 defeat, the Yanks underground marketing crew (a crew who had been asleep since they created the "1918" chant only to breifly awake for the "Who's Your Daddy" chant of 2003) came up with their newest ploy: "Got Rings?" This newest scheme--an effort to depict just how much better the Yanks franchise is--features a t-shirt (seen left) that copies the Milk ad's "Got Milk?" ploy but substitutes the word "Rings" for "Milk." The shirt then goes onto explain that the Yanks franchise has won 26 MLB championships while the Sox have only won 6 (even though the Jorts-wearing hairlips who wear those shirts have only been alive for a max of 6 of those series. I don't go around bragging about 1903 team or the '15 & '16 back-to-back years). It's meant to put the Sox's first championship in almost 90 years into context as a drop in the bucket compared to the venerable and esteemed Yankees' franchise ("Pride, Power, Pinstripes"). And that's fine. I just found it a little pathetic that in response to getting killed in a series in 2004 that they were touting victories in the 1920's. It'd be like Iraq after getting its ass handed to it in the most recent desert conflict creating t-shirts that said "Call Us When You've Dominated A Region For 5,000 years," featuring a list of the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar and how dominant the Ottoman Empire was. Ok, congrats. You still got your ass kicked last year. But what got under my skin about the whole thing was that there needed to be a response at all. I thought that was pretty weak. I figured they could just move on, reload and try and win the next one. I thought that it might be humbling and almost revitalizing to the fanbase to realize that the rivalry may actually become a "rivalry" in the sense of being able to try and best eachother for a championship each year as opposed to knowing that one team was always failing at the end. I guess I thought the slate was now clean and a new era of competition had begun. But more than anything, it pissed me off because there's nothing I can say in response and there's a very good chance that the deficit will not be made up in my lifetime. So unlike the 1918 chant, I will have to live with it for the rest of my life. It's really annoying to come to that realization and I thought that people who stoop to the "26-6" level are just assholes crasping at straws and shifting the argument away from their own sad realization that their team will forever be known as the team that choked in 2004 in a way no team ever had. And I really thought that this type of behavior was idiosyncratic solely of some Yankees Fans. So it was with this sentiment in mind that this morning I realized that I too am that asshole.

Last night's Yanks - Red Sox game was tough on a lot of levels. I got home late and was only able to catch the end of the 8th and the 9th innings. The Sox flailed away in the bottom of the 8th and even the white hot Dustin Pedroia couldn't give them the lead going into the 9th on a routine ball to right that Bobby Abreu made look like a scorching liner because he has aged 40 years in the last 2 months. As soon as I saw Papelbon up, I had a bad feeling. It was only a matter of time before the Yanks got a big hit off of him and Sox bullpen had been too good for too long this season and was due for a letdown (only later did I learn that Okajima had given up the tying run). Paps had also been wild recently and gotten himself in and out of jams in the ninth but not before flirting with dangerous hitters with men on base like he did with Hafner the other night (before making him look stupid). But after he blew Abreu away, I felt pretty confident he could get A-Rod who never hits the high and tight fastball that Papelbon would surely throw him. A-Rod was a second late on the first pitch and was on time but a little off on the next fould tip. Tek set up outside and you figure the splitter is coming and A-Rod has to swing at anything that has a chance of clipping the black because the strike zone was getting wider as the rain fell harder. Paps' fastball was coming in so quick he could bounce two in the dirt before throwing another fastball and A-Rod would never have caught up with it. But he wanted to put him away with his best pitch and A-Rod got it. It was a good if not great pitch. A 94mph'er low and away, but A-Rod is so frickin strong that he just muscled it into the Sox bullpen. It was even more impressive when in the bottom half of the inning Ortiz didn't have enough muscle to get Rivera's middle of the plate meatball into the same bullpen. It was a tough loss at home, to your rivals and while it may not have any effect on the outcome of the season (it likely will not), all I could think of was my response to anyone who gave me shit about the home run the next day. Was I going to say, "Call me when they're within 10" or "Congrats on not being last place" or whatever. And then it hit me: I was that same defensive asshole who when faced with a tough defeat focused on a situation that had little to do with what happened on the field of the game in question. I was essentially the guy wearing the "Got Rings?" shirt. Rather than just shut up and take the tough defeat, take the barbs at work and coming from friends knowing full well the Sox are way ahead, I had to taunt back. When did I become such a prick? It was a depressing realization but more than teach me that I am a dickhead, I think the conclusion that I've come to is not that I'm an asshole just like Yankees Fans, it was instead that I'm an asshole just like everybody else. Anytime your team has an edge on some level over your rival's team, you are going to use that edge as your the crux of your argument regardless of how relevant it is to the situation or conversation: The Eagles have beat up the Giants in recent years; well when's the last time the Eagles won a championship? The Colts beat the Pats last year; wake me up when you get your third ring. The New Jersey Nets flopped in the playoffs; your team is run by Isiah. Jason Giambi's contract is the worst signing in history; well, you're ugly. It's what we do. We use whatever chips we have. It's only natural to grasp at those straws even if they don't necessarily offer a perfectly relevant response to the matter at hand. So while I'm not pleased that I stooped to the "Got Rings?" level, I feel a little better that I'm like all the rest of you assholes out there.