And after a century of watching the Yankees club America's small-market teams like baby seals and tigers and red sox, you have to suffer during the off-season too. In the biggest moral affront yet to your sense of fairness, last week the Yankees already the richest, best team in baseball traded for Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) the richest, best player in baseball. The Yankees now have a slightly better lineup than the National League All-Star team, one of whose members will undoubtedly be the Yankees' second baseman by the play-offs.
The worst part for you is that the rich Yankees got A-Rod at a subsidized price just by being smart. Baseball's most expensive, egregious contract was given to Rodriguez three years ago by the Texas Rangers: $252 million over 10 years, much of which they will still have to pay to unload him. Imagine how much more they would have given him if President Bush were still the Rangers' owner. That guy loves giving rich people more money.
Consider the A-Rod deal a Dr. Phil-esque opportunity for national self-realization. Americans haven't been underdogs since 1812. We like to remember the Alamo because we fought long odds and had to give up an entire building; the Mexicans remember Texas. If ever a country's character demanded that it root against the underdog, it's ours. We are the country of crushing, monolithic corporations of McDonald's, Wal-Mart and companies such as Aramark, Cendant and Sysco that are so powerful we don't even know what they do. We crush foreign dictators for looking at us funny. We are geniuses at supersizing the good stuff and McRibbing the losers. Underdogs are for Canadians.
The other 29 teams in Major League Baseball are around just to spur New York to further greatness, but when the Diamondbacks, Angels and Marlins do accidentally win, it's all the more exciting for them because they felled the rich, advantaged Yankees. I know it seems unfair that New York's vast television revenue gives the Yankees a permanent advantage. If all the cities had the same amount of money, every year might be as exciting in a roll-of-the-dice way, but there would be no truth in it. America is a nation of vast economic, educational and ethnic disparities. The Yankees are the real America. Where else can whites, blacks, Asians and Hispanics play happily together except on a team worth $180 million? If I were an Inuit second baseman with a good on-base percentage, I'd get my resume to the Bronx as soon as possible.
People come to America for the same reason that A-Rod wanted to join the Yankees: both are well-run organizations with long histories of success. "I felt the allure of the tradition and the opportunity to win," said Rodriguez. People confuse pity with morality, but, as America has been arguing explicitly for several decades, there is nothing amoral about strength if it is used properly. The Yankees have good players, and the Romans made awesome aqueducts. Do you really think it makes you a better person to wish success upon a team with bad management, poor decision making and lesser talent? Then maybe you should hire Michael Eisner for his next job.
Every team has its creation myth: the Cubs teach the value of loyalty through suffering; the Red Sox, that every day is a new opportunity; the Expos, that for Canada, World's Fairs are exciting as it gets. The Yankees are the only team that teaches the true story of our country that might mixed with class, talent and hard work often breeds success. Also, that pinstripes have a slimming effect. Except on David Wells.
You want to teach your kids that the Yankees are evil, that the true way lies in the struggles of the sickly Brewers and Devil Rays? Go ahead and tell them bedtime stories for losers. But don't go on pretending that there is something righteous in it. Sure, your child might grow up to be Eliot Spitzer, but wouldn't you rather he became Bill Gates? Or better, Alex Rodriguez. That guy is going to be a lot happier in New York.