So I started this post about a month ago, everything was ready to go, I just needed to hit publish. Yet yesterday as I sat in the airport in Norfolk, VA watching ESPN as I drank myself to that happy level required for me to fly, I decided that more than my love and loyalty to the New York Yankees had died. So I have made some changes...
Today we mourn the end of Millie the Baseball Fan, who officially passed away at 1605 EST on 13 December 2007. To those close to Millie the Baseball Fan, the loss was somewhat of a surprise, since most expected that she would not pass on completely. Yet that is what makes life the journey that it is...the unexpected changes that can happen over a short period of time. Many people believe that the cause of this was the re-signing of the overpaid, arrogant bastard of a baseball player...and those people are half correct. The news of his 275 million dollar contract was a devastating blow. Yet Millie the Yankee fan officially died the moment she read the news about the 275 million dollar asshole on the ESPN sports ticker...underneath coverage of Bud Selig's press conference on the Mitchell Report findings. There in that airport bar over a bagel sandwich and a double rum and coke...the heart of Millie the Baseball Fan took its last beat...ending a 15 year long run as a baseball...more significantly...a Yankee fan.
Okay...so slightly dramatic but I think you get the idea. I have been expecting the news about the overpaid asshole with no rings...so that sting wasn't too bad since I already knew that it would be the final nail in my Yankee coffin. But I'll be honest...the Mitchell Report stung as well...and has prompted me to say fuck baseball altogether.
You see...I loved baseball. In fact, some of my favorite memories of spending time with my father are going to watch baseball games. I remember my dad putting a rather unnecessary batting helmet on my head, giving me a glove that never caught a pop fly, and taking me to the stadium to spend an afternoon drinking Kool-Aid and eating peanuts. I fondly remember my dad teaching me how to keep score, which I never did but enjoying knowing that if I wanted to I could. In many ways, baseball was the great neutralizer between us. I didn't play baseball and he didn't coach it. There was no comparisons, no pressure and guilt to do better, no telling me that pain was part of being an athlete and to suck it up...just us in the sun watching the game.
The truth is that I was always partial to the NY Yankees because I loved Babe Ruth candy bars and The Babe played for The Yankees. With my love of the Yankees came a true dislike for the Boston Red Socks, though I didn't quite know why until I was older. It was nice....every March buying magazines to help predict the season, digging out the Lil' Jug to carry the Kool-Aid to the stadium...it was nice.
Things changed in 1996 when a rookie shortstop from Kalamazoo realized his dream of wearing pinstripes...and that rookie was Derek Jeter. Suddenly my passion for the Yankees kicked into overdrive and I went from loyal fan...to crazed fan where I have remained ever since. Being a Yankee Fan went from good to great when Derek hit the scene. I mean he is incredibly talented, incredibly good-looking, and he was a good guy. He wasn't beating his wife like David Justice, he wasn't doing drugs like Daryl Strawberry, he wasn't doing any of the things that were starting to taint the other all-stars in the game. He was just a young man who loved his sport, loved his team, and we loved him for it.
I won't go into the recaps...as we all know that the Yankees had a great run of post-season magic. I won't go into all the details of magic that Derek produced for his team. (Visit Wikipedia if you don't know the details.) Those were the good old days. But as one of my favorite songs from this year points out..."All Good Things Come to End."
Yes...I know it sounds ridiculous...but Derek Jeter is the ONLY reason that I have remained a Yankee fan over the past few years. That charismatic smile was enough to overlook the downfall of a baseball empire...keyword being was. After the Yankees choked in the 2001 World Series...it all seemed to go downhill. As season records deteriorated and scandals broke out...I would overlook all of it because of Derek. You see...in spite of the obvious physical appeal...Derek was more than just an incredibly good looking and talented short-stop. Derek was a symbol of what is good and pure about baseball...which in turn makes him a symbol for what is good and pure about the society that created baseball. His overall goodness made me believe that as long as good guys like Derek Jeter were around...there was still hope for the rest of them. (This extended beyond the baseball field.) That is a lot of pressure of one man...even one was great as Derek Jeter.
As I watched the results of the Mitchell Report...I felt like throwing away everything that I owned that has any connection to MLB. Not because I was surprised. I am not so stupid that I didn't think that there was a steroid problem in baseball. One look at Barry Bonds and Mark Maguire and you know the answer. I was more surprised by the number of people named and the extent of their use. It feels like a lie and it pisses me off.
The MLB Hall of Fame has been tainted by steroids. If the organization had any balls they would kick out everyone who had cheated their way into it. (No pun intended.) There would not be any of this * bullshit. There is no need for an * because everyone knows how the records were broken. Olympic athletes who use steroids are forced to give up their medals...why shouldn't an MLB player guilty of the same offense have to give up their spot in the Hall of Fame as well as any rings that they acquired while using the illegal substance?
Does the Yankee organization honestly believe that we are buying their stance of not knowing that so many of their players used (use?) steroids or other performance enhancing drugs? Bullshit. They might have overlooked it...but they knew or at least would have if they truly cared enough to find out. The desire to win was worth more than their integrity. Just like the desire to win was worth more than their word when it came to paying the post-season choke artist to come back after he tried to leave them and then came crawling back when no one else wanted him. (But at least the bastard hasn't been linked to using the "juice".) I am not pissed at Jason Giambi, because he was had the intrgrity to talk about, therefore is redeemed in my eyes. Clemens wasn't exactly a surprise...but Pettitte and Knoblach were tough because as a Yankee fan I had always thought very highly of these two athletes. 9 players off of the 2000 World Series Yankee team are named as users...yet the Yankee organization knew nothing? Again I call Bullshit.
So yeah...I am pissed. Baseball fans deserve better from the people that they pay an obscene amount of money to watch play. Though on the other hand...perhaps we baseball fans share some of the guilt for paying that much in the first place.
So I say farewell to MLB...and everything having to do with it. In the past I said that I would convert to a Red Sox fan if the Yankees signed that overpaid, cheating, can't play when it counts, piece of shit player but I think that it would be vindictive and I don't want to go that way. Though I do think that it is important to note that the Red Sox did not have any major players listed in the Mitchell Report which is significant in my eyes. I am swallowing my pride and admit that the current Red Sox team is what baseball is all about...winning with talent, not with shots in the ass. I cannot join Red Sox Nation in anger...so I go nowhere. In the event that I stop being so pissed off at the MLB organization and decide to watch the sport again...the Red Sox will be my team.
So in closing....Let it be known...
- I still really, really HATE the selfish, postseason joke, no loyalty, cheater that isn't worth 275 thousand dollars...let alone 275 million. The bastard has never belonged in pinstripes and never will....which is why the Yankees will never win with him wearing them. Fuck him and the Yankees. I hope they enjoy all the golf they will be playing while other teams are winning pennants.
- I still believe in and support Derek Jeter...just not his team. Perhaps I will become an Avon lady and start selling his cologne....which is the most awesome men's cologne EVER. Most of my guy friends are getting a bottle for Christmas again this year. I will put my other Yankee stuff on Ebay...but I will keep my #2 jersey and t-shirt.
- I'm done with sports...Pop Culture is where I belong...Turn in on Sunday for the Bon Jovi Recap.