The Yankee Mystique Isn’t a Real Thing Folks
BOCA RATON (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) Before the New York Yankees became the Yankees, that is before they pried away a guy named George Herman Ruth from the cash strapped Boston Red Sox on January 3, 1920, they were looking up at teams like the Sawks, the cross town New York Giants, and the mighty Philadelphia A’s. Its hard to believe there was a time in sports when the Yankees were just another team.
But they were.
And they still are just another team. Like the Lakers and Celtics and Canadiens and Cowboys and Steelers are just “another” team.
They just happen to be the team with more championships won (27) than any other. The bottom line is, it was the luck of the draw. Prior to the Babe signing with the team, they had only enjoyed six winning seasons since their inception in 1901 as the original Baltimore Orioles. In 1903 they became the New York Highlanders changing their name to the Yankees in 1913. This was a run of the mill team, an also ran in a still young American League. But Ruth changed all that. Yankee Stadium was called “The House that Ruth Built” for a reason. He put fannies in the seats. He changed the game. He set a tone for winning along with Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri.
Later it was DiMaggio and Berra and a little after that it was Mantle and Ford.
The Yankees would go on to establish themselves as the team to beat, and build a dynasty that would last from 1921 to 1964. In those forty-four seasons, they would have just one losing season (in 1925), and amass twenty-nine AL pennants and twenty World Series championships. This was the era when they were simply called the “damn” Yankees or the “dreaded” Yankees. They had the most success and the most money. They were in New York, still the most populated city in America.
But let’s not get confused. There were no ghosts that haunted the original Yankee Stadium. And they sure as hell didn’t take up residence in the new place across the street. There are no baseball gods that shine on this team.
There is no mystique.
It’s a manufactured image that sports columnists like to write about, marketing departments love to perpetuate, fans like to dream about, and even Yankee players themselves are prone to invoke like when Derek Jeter told Aaron Boone, “the ghosts will come eventually” just before Boone sent the Red Sox packing in 2003 with an ALCS winning home run. The same thing has happened in baseball countless times in ballparks not as vaunted as Yankee Stadium, and no one ever talks about ghosts or mystique. But because it happens to the Yankees, all of a sudden, it’s history making, it’s more important.
Well, I’ve got news for you folks…it’s not more important. We’ve all been conditioned to believe that.
The New York Yankees simply have the most championships in sports. That’s it. It could be any another team – but its the Yankees. Should they be proud? Sure. I would be. Should they hold their heads up hight when they take the field? Sure. I would.
Should they feel like they are the chosen and privileged ones who are somehow entitled to royalty status and relish in the evil empire monicker they so boastfully trumpet across baseball? No. Because they still have to play the games like everyone else.
And who is that exalted committee in the clouds that determines who is a “real” Yankee and who isn’t a “real” Yankee?
What is a “real” Yankee?
I’m told by Yankee fans, it was certainly Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio and Berra and Ford and Mantle. And it is unquestionably Derek Jeter. But it is definitely not A-Rod. And it might not have been Roger Maris.
Funny, they can give you a laundry list of who the “real” Yankees are. But ask them the criteria, and you get that glassy eyed, deer in headlights gaze that initially says “I don’t know” which eventually becomes “how dare you ask.”
Oops, I’m sorry. Did I inadvertently piss on your hallowed interlocking NY?
The only team I despise more than the Yankees are the Dallas Cowboys. You remember these guys, right? They once had the balls to proclaim themselves “America’s Team.” Their consecrated Texas star, much like the interlocking NY is apparently so holy, that stepping on it is not only bad luck but a cardinal sin worthy of execution.
Its a football team folks. The image is manufactured. Like the Yankees mystique is manufactured. Its a falsehood. Its a phantom. Without form. Unreal. You’re being hoodwinked – suckered – if you fall for this piffle.
As the Phillies prepare themselves for a third straight run at a World Series I imagine a second go at the Yankees – a bit of revenge for 2009. Obviously, the San Francisco Giants stand in their way – no easy task.
I happened to run into a fellow Phillies fan the other day and I needed to stop myself from strangling him. Why? The conversation went a little something like this:
Me: Who do you like to get to the (World) Series?
Him: Well, I think we’ll have tough time with the Giants, but I think we’ll win.
Me: I agree. And what about the AL?
Him: Wow. Well, I pray its Texas?
Me: You pray its Texas? Well, first off, I doubt God is listening, because I’m guessing He doesn’t take sides in these matters.
(there’s an uncomfortable chuckle on his part)
Me: Why not the Yankees?
Him: Well, I just don’t want to go in there and lose. You know, the mystique. The Yankee mystique.
Me: Mystique? You believe that garbage? If you go in there afraid of this team, then you’ve already lost. You think the Phillies give a shit about the mystique?
Him: Probably not.
Me: Then why should you?
Him: Good point.
Yeah. It is a good point.
I’m going to make up a word now. Its a myth buster kind of word.
It’s time somebody stand up and demystiquify the Yankees and any other sports franchise who live off an image which was corporate-made, media supported, and that the current lucky roster members attempt to eternalize.
Mystique? Don’t believe it for a second. You want mystique? Watch Field of Dreams for the fiftieth time. That’s a slice of baseball magic worth believing.