November 8, 2009

World Series Chumps

Damn Yankees
My apologies in advance for this post. I simply cannot contain my rage and, in the face of an oncoming tidal wave of New York Yankees propaganda that I’ll have to endure until spring training next March, I must vent. Stop reading now if you aren’t a part of the baseball Borg.
"The Yankees won. The world is right again," team president Randy Levine said after the Yankees clinched their 27th World Series victory over the Phillies a couple of days ago. What a boatload of dung. There are countless reasons to hate the Yankees, and that quote encapsulates why so many baseball fans have a natural enmity for pinstripes. There’s plenty more to be found in the fawning praise from the New York Times here. The world has been just fine since 2000, the last time the Evil Empire won.

The Yankees: Storied history and home team to celebrated players….blah blah blah—it’s all crap. The Yankees polarize baseball fans because they attempt to buy the #1 spot every year through obscene player salaries and smothering marketing. Unfortunately, they tend to succeed using that strategy. Most people can respect their healthy desire to be the best team, but there is an ingrained sense of entitlement wafting around that team that just repels me. Something stinks in the Bronx, even with a shiny new $1.5 billion stadium.

The problem is I cannot escape the Yankees mindshare onslaught even here in Japan. Hideki Matsui, who left the Japanese pro league to play for the Yanks in 2003, was the 2009 World Series MVP, with an admirable performance of six RBIs and many clutch hits. His public persona is that of a pleasant guy, ever polite and humble, attributes which resonate well with the Japanese character. He made his homeland proud with his tremendous play during the 2009 World Series and by becoming the first Japanese player to win the MVP.
But you know what? He’s still a bum because he wears pinstripes.

Damn Giants
The Yomiuri Giants are just as heinous as the Yankees. They are owned by a large media conglomerate; are ubiquitous throughout the country; use the same questionable business tactics to try and stay on top; and invoke the same binary love/hate gut reaction in baseball fans. The Giants are regarded as the natural cousins to the Yankees due to their dominance of Japanese baseball over the years, and even have been dubbed “Japan’s Team.” They may have won 21 Japan pro baseball championships (the last one in 2002), but they make me want to barf just as much as their Bronx-based elitist cousins.

And they just made my disagreeable situation —the Yankees as world champs— intolerable because they won the 2009 Japan series, winning in six games over the Nippon Ham Fighters.

What’s the link here? Matsui! First a Yomiuri Giant, then a NY Yankee, and both teams become league champions the same year, within days of each other. Coincidence, I think not.
A billboard featuring Matsui, shilling for canned coffee: “Strong body.”

I have no choice but to blame Hideki Matsui, one of the more talented and agreeable players in pro ball and a national hero, for this awful state of affairs. And now I have to endure the long, cold winter until spring training, when there will be renewed hope for more likable champions—on both sides of the Pacific.

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