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Why I Hate the Yankees

September 12, 2014

imagesI mean, I don’t really hate the Yankees. I feel a little happier when a bunch of guys who are paid to play baseball by the Yankee Global Enterprises LLC lose. But for the sake of argument, let’s just say I hate the Yankees.

Which is actually the subject of a longer piece; one that is really more about my perceptions of its fan base – changed drastically from the 1970s to the early aughts – and, come to think of it, really more about the changing economics of New York City, my lifelong home; and therefore, really  about my place in New York. So, I guess, like all sports and sports teams, it’s kind of about more than the Yankees.

I digress. From both of these caveats.

But is a good example of what I don’t like about the Yankees, and how, to me, they feel strangely out of place in the weird fabric of interconnected Major League Baseball teams, independent but totally dependent. For a while now, perhaps starting with or catalyzed by 9/11, it seems like the Yankees have not just been vying for the title of “America’s Team,” wresting that from the drug-trafficking, homiciding Dallas Cowboys, but really, saying that they ARE America, in their exceptionalism and work ethic and expectations and symbolism. Of the qualities that the Bronx Bombers actually do share with the foreign perception of America is that arrogance – which leads to stupid things like Mystique and Aura – is what rubs people the wrong way about both, uh, franchises.

Why I bring this up today is not necessarily because of the whole Derek Jeter patch on the jersey (isn’t this supposed to be reserved for dead people?) and the Farewell Tour to End All Farewell Tours, whose constant pageantry is ironically making us forget that Jeter the Player not the Icon really was one of the best ever.

Rather, it’s reading about Paul Konerko’s final trip to Yankee Stadium. The Yanks, being classy, moved to honor Konerko, himself a borderline Hall-of-Famer, with a gift, not unlike Jeter has been honored with in every stadium. The Captain™’s gifts have ranged from a personalized paddleboard and cowboy boots to watches and subway mosaics to specially-made benches and other baseball-related paraphernalia, and of course, loads of donations to his Turn Two Foundation.

The Yankees gave Konerko a base, which is…fine. Jeter received a base from the Mariners and the Twins (though not from Target Field, but rather the last base from the Metrodome). But the add-on that makes this “special” is not the base but that every member of the Yankees signed it for Konerko.

That in and of itself isn’t terrible. Look, only a handful of teams this year have acknowledged Konerko – a White Sox icon and himself, going by those intangible “reports,” a clubhouse leader and great guy. And the Yankees are one of them.

But you know what the Minnesota Twins did, along with a personal gift to the first baseman? They donated to the Bring Me Home campaign, a charity that he and Jim Thome founded to raise support and funds for foster kids. While it’s hard to tell what professional athlete is intricately involved or connected to his charity of choice, this is at least one that Konerko is associated with, and one that the Twins found worthy enough to donate $10,000 to.

Jeter has been raking in donations for his cause at every single ballpark. There’s been no end to the accolades thrown at him, and, in a way, the pinstriped brand. The Yanks gave Konerko a base signed by, you know, among others, Shane Greene and Brendan Ryan.

Sorry, to me, this just reeks of Yankees’ exceptionalism trumping the actual sentiment. At least donate to the guy’s charity, beyond just saying “Here’s a little something to remember the great Yankees franchise by.”

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