This is not what I wanted to write about this week....
I wanted to write about the Home Run Derby, which featured a champion who took steroids and a runner-up who doesn't hustle. And if not that, I wanted to write about the high number of injuries suffered by the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies, and how it just proves they're so much better than the 2009 New York Mets.
Then George Steinbrenner passed away, dying from a heart attack at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Florida at the age of 80. And that's when it hit me:
The New York Yankees are going to win the World Series.
Can't you already see it? They'll have little black badges on their jersey's and their caps (and sell ‘em for fifty dollars a pop at the stadium). Each home game will feature a video tribute. Each pre-game will have interviews with players, former and present, saying how much The Boss meant not just to them, but to the entire city of New York, the entire League, and heck, why not, the entire nation.
And they'll win. Hey, they were probably going to win anyway. Fifty-six wins at the All-Star break, (best in the Majors, despite playing in its toughest division) with guys like Teixeira and Sabathia (both second-half players) struggling, but surely only going to play better.
And now they've got something Hank or Hal or Costanza or whoever is currently running the team couldn't buy, even with a $185 million payroll (which they have).
They have destiny.
They'll be winning it "for The Boss," claiming his spirit and memory were the driving force that led them to that 28th World Series pennant that they're now certainly going to receive. They'll talk glowingly about him, about his family and his friends, his reputation and his legacy, and they'll do it all without mentioning he went through managers like tic-tacs or that he once received a lifetime ban for associating with a troubled sports gambler.
And the worst part about that is... it's going to make them harder to hate.
See the thing is, there's no in-between when it comes to the New York Yankees. There's no Switzerland. It is a vintage "With-Us-Or-Against-Us" situation, and more often than not, if you are not born and raised a Yankee fan it is a very, very strong against.
You're either a lover, which means you're a card-carrying New Yorker, someone who thinks the world extends no further than the Hudson, that a Hero is either a fireman or a sandwich, and considers Boston equal to Tehran.
Or you're a hater. And boy, there are just so, so many reasons to be a hater.
See, it's not that they just want to win, it's that they expect to win... and typically do. They have won 27 championships, the most in professional American sports by quite the margin, and it's a fact the die-hards in the Bronx never hesitate to remind you of.
Their fans boast about their team with a royal smugness that once drove the people of France to chop the heads off their leaders. It is the worst kind of arrogance, not simply because of its annoyance and incomparable haughtiness... but because it's deserved, because it's earned.... and also, because there's no real way to argue against it.
And it was George Steinbrenner who gave them the right to this conceitedness.
Even during the early part of this previous decade, when the championship well dried up, the rival Red Sox's took control, and the Yankees rarely made it out of the Wild-Card round, they were still the Kings of Baseball, the trendy pick to win it all each spring and the lead-story every morning on SportsCenter. And the fan-base attitude never changed, the confidence never bent, the smugness never stalled, because they all knew that one day, sooner rather than later, the true Champs would reign again.
And in case you've forgotten, they've thrived in this situation before. In 1999, then-manager of the Yankees Joe Torre was treated for prostate cancer the same time the Yankee's experienced one of their worst Septembers in their storied history. That same year, Hall-of-Famer Joe DiMaggio succumbed to lung cancer less than a month before the season began.
The Bronx Bombers went on to win the World Series that season. Oh, and the next one too, which gave them three in a row.
So now, here they sit, the body of their legendary Boss now going off where his mind likely had gone a long time ago. And while his legacy will last throughout the generations, his most immediate impact will be providing the motivation to the 2010 Yankees, who are now destined to win it all.
So when they parade down the Canyon of Heroes that 28th time, and ESPN shows images of Steinbrenner's widow, his children, and his grandchildren, alongside the thousands of people who benefitted from his charity work and guidance, as well as the millions of everyday baseball fans whose sports experience was undoubtedly enhanced because of the late, great Boss.......... all that odium, anger and apathy the haters have stored up for the greatest franchise in Major League Baseball is going to be put on pause by one itty, bitty, little thought:
"Good for them."
You'll hate yourself for it. And you'll still hate them, maybe even more so. It is the Yankees, after all. But for this season, at least, it's gonna be a little bit harder. - Eric Marmon
Eric Marmon is a freelance writer from Philadelphia. He graduated from Hofstra University, is a retired Whaler, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
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