By Jason Keidel
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For the first time since 1977, I’m sick of Yankees fans and ashamed to be one, myself.
After two immortal swings from Raul Ibanez, who made Joe Girardi look like a genius and diffused a potentially nuclear topic today (the benching of A-Rod), I expected a conga line of euphoric fans, a gleeful gang knocking each other over to call WFAN and sing pinstriped praises.
Instead, a woeful band of whiners commandeered the overnight program. Tony Paige, a kind soul who does a fine job during the crazy hours of the night, probably needed bulletproof glass to deflect all the misguided barbs directed at the Yankees. You’d honestly think that the Bronx Bombers got bombed last night.
As always, the group was led by the Jeter babies, the “Core Four Kids” who think a team should make the playoffs every year. But the core four virus has poisoned old timers, too. I was hearing men of my vintage and much older moan about every rung in our lineup — Curtis Granderson, A-Rod, and Nick Swisher suck, of course, with Mark Teixeira getting an ephemeral pass — while ignoring the fact that their beloved Bombers are nine innings from the ALCS, and could get there in about six hours.
I heard you whine about the aforementioned trio, along with Russell Martin, Girardi, Ichiro Suzuki and, well, everyone but the sainted captain at shortstop.
I had to roll my window down a foot in case of car (and fan) sickness. Everything went right for the Yankees on the diamond — and off, as the A’s did the Yanks a serious solid by beating Detroit last night, thus forcing the Tigers to trot out Justin Verlander yet again, which means he can’t start Game 1 of the ALCS.
But no, we stink because we’re hitting barely above the Mendoza Line for the entire four games. Some of you people really said this.
While I’ve never loved Girardi, he’s imminently qualified to manage a Major League Baseball team, and his move last night was not only brilliant but also the boldest move we’ve seen in some time, benching the $30 million man for a 40-year-old bench player (Ibanez). And the fact that Ibanez repaid G.I. Joe so quickly and so concisely only makes the choice more sublime.
But no, the problem of A-Rod trumps the solution of Ibanez. Some of you people really said this.
This is clearly tough for Yankees fans to comprehend, but the Orioles get paid to play, too, and this year they were a whopping 76-0 when leading after seven innings. They were 29-9 in one-run games and had a surreal 16-game winning streak in extra-inning games.
The Yankees jammed the breaks on all that mojo and momentum, and yet all I heard this morning was crying unbefitting of a Pampers commercial.
It took these 35 years of fandom for me to finally understand why the world west of the Hudson hates us. Sure, money is part of it, as was George Steinbrenner’s hubris and MaCarthur metaphors. And you can’t swing a bat in the Bronx on gameday without hitting some drunk wearing those hideous “Got Rings?” T-shirts.
No doubt that all of those characteristics create a cocktail that few humans can digest. But none of it compares to the lack of gratitude and class, and the crass approach to our pastime. We’ve pulled off the impossible exacta of being the most knowledgeable and idiotic fans in America.
This morning literally made me sick. The Yankees could be in the ALCS by 11 p.m. on Thursday night, yet I had to hear this moaning, groaning, gurgling about Granderson, who only hit 43 homers this year and drove in 106 runs.
“But he hits .240!” is the incessant retort. And you can be sure that if Granderson hit .340 with 20 homers and 90 RBIs, you’d hear the hordes gripe about his power.
Some of you really said this.
I’m saying stop. Please.
Your thoughts on this, Yankees fans? Let us know in the comments section below…