The Yankees are in the World Series for the first time in six years. I have mentioned before how difficult it should be for me to root for the Yankees since it’s sort of like being in high school and cheering for the most popular kids to become more popular. And yet, I cannot help myself.
As a New Yorker, every fiber on my being wants to be a Mets fan. I want to love them because they are New York’s perennial scrappy underdogs, the misfits who can never seem to catch a break. I want to love them the way I would a crippled kid. But I can’t. Because they suck. And when I am honest with myself, I find it impossible to throw my lot in with a sucky sports team. I prefer winners, which I suspect is yet another deep and horrible character flaw.
I mean, what’s the point of rooting for something that’s preordained? The Yankees are obviously going to win. Maybe not every year, but often enough that being their fan seems pointless; it’s like praying for Kanye West to do something stupid. We already know its going to happen so why waste time and energy hoping for it?
Sure, it’s fun to back a winner. But aren’t sports supposed to teach us lessons that extend beyond the fleeting satisfaction of winning a stupid game? Isn’t it ultimately more satisfying, more enriching, to adopt the broke-down, the wheezing, the flailing and the buffoonish? To stick with a team through its lean years, to cry with them when they inevitably self-destruct, to mutter black thoughts about into your beer after another disappointing season? To proclaim to the world that they may be bums, but they’re your bums? Isn’t that what dedication to a sports team is all about? In a word, no.
No, losing sucks. Losing is bad enough when it happens to you on a daily basis through circumstances of which you have little to no control: the car dies, you get fired for being “inebriated,” etc. These are things that happen out of the blue. But when you root for a sports team that you know is terrible, that you know is going to disappoint you, that you know is going to find a way to screw up the sure thing, and leave you with a keen desire to strangle/stab/asphyxiate each individual member of said team, then you have nobody to blame but yourself. What good comes from being a Baltimore Orioles fan? A Cincinnati Reds fan? A Pittsburgh Pirates fan? You enter the season knowing your team doesn’t stand a chance and leave the season knowing the next season will be no better. Where is the joy? The relationship is totally one-sided. You give them your heart. They give you nothing but pain and suffering and then skip town. It’s like being in a relationship with Charlie Sheen.
With the Yankees, I know what I’m going to get. Winners. Over-priced, corporatized, mechanized winners. Winning machines. Guys who wake up winning, win all day long, and then go to bed still winning. They win at sleeping, these Yankees. They win at everything they do. They even take longer, stinkier shits than everybody else. Then they sell them as collectibles that only rise in value over time. They win because that’s what they were made to do. Each individual Yankee was poured from the same molds used by the Franklin Mint, the highest standard of quality on earth.
I understand why people hate winners. I hate winners. But I love the Yankees. Because, for me, the Yankees aren’t just a team. They are an aspiration. Whereas a lot of baseball teams represent the daily struggles and shortcomings of their cities and their fans, the Yankees represent something different; they represent possibility, the aura of doing something well year in and year out. The represent the majestic. Sure, that’s easy to resent, but it’s far easier to resent than to achieve. When kids dream, they dream of being baseball players. When baseball teams dream, they dream of being the Yankees.
In every other aspect of my life, I will continue to identify with the misfits and losers. As people they are more interesting and fun to hang out with. I mean, I love Derek Jeter, but I wouldn’t choose him as my Scattergories partner, the stiff. But I have one small place in my life where I am the guy with the brightest teeth. That place is my love for the Yankees. May they destroy those scrappy, fucking underdog Phillies.