The Corner

THE YANKEES: GOOD FOR BASEBALL

Yesterday’s victory by the Detroit Tigers guarantees that after this year’s World Series, the Series will have been won in the last six years by six different teams. This, in itself, sends a rousing message to fans in every baseball city, to the effect that Next year, it could be you. But here’s where the Yankees become an important part of the story line. Every hero-story requires a terrifying villain, an overpowering Darth Vader figure who is completely unbeatable . . . but somehow, by the end of the story, he is defeated. It always happens, and is always a surprise: It’s the mystery of storytelling, of man’s long career of myth-making. (In the Yankees’ case, even the metaphors people use are already timeworn: “Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel.” “Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the house in blackjack.”) I, like pretty much everyone else, was certain the Yankees would overpower the Tigers–but this year’s AL Underdog vanquished the Eternal Overdog. People love this story: That’s why, if you do a Google News search of “Yankees” and “$200 million” right now, you will turn up over 1,400 hits. It’s not because anybody really cares how much money Steinbrenner spends on getting good players; it’s because people love listening to how the Little Guy, if he works hard and lives right, can beat even the Best. For six years, the Yankees have really taken one for the team–they have made baseball exciting. It would be less exciting if the Yankees were, in fact, a bunch of overpaid and overrated losers; that they are actually a great and classy (I’m thinking of guys like Jeter) team turns the story into a true epic. The Yankees will, at some point, be allowed by Providence to relinquish the role they are playing now (surely, fewer than 86 years); in the meantime, Thanks, guys!

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