Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Hyper-Crits (NY Sports Fan edition)

I’m suspicious of any idea that starts with the assumption that “things are different today”. While external factors change rapidly, human nature remains largely unchanged. Its why great literature written 400 years ago - or even 2700 years ago - can still speak to us today. Amidst the unfamiliar trappings of its time, we recognize timeless human qualities.

Still - I can't quite shake the feeling that our society is much more critical, much more demanding of instant total success, than has been common in much of human history. Take, for example, Yankee fans and Alex Rodriguez.

In 4 seasons with the New York Yankees, A-Rod has won 2 MVPs, and averaged .289/35 HRs/115 RBIs in the non-MVP seasons. He's never had any legal trouble; has never been implicated in a steroids controversy; is a better fielder and baserunner than any other slugger of his magnitude; is polite and articulate; and by all accounts, continues to work harder at his game than most lesser players. Oh, one more thing - he just might be the greatest player in the history of the game.

So Yankee fans love him, right? Well, not exactly. They booed nearly every at-bat of his 2006 campaign, and NY sports radio in 2007 was an endless coffe-klatsch of love-em-or-hate-em A-Rod talk.

Now, I'm not saying A-Rod doesn't have his bad qualities. He's unctous. He feels compelled to remind people of his statistical achievements. And while I don't begrudge anyone seeking a pay raise, he has a tin ear, P.R.-wise, when it comes to salary negotiations.

But that's why Yankee haters (like me) should dislike him. Yankee fans themselves should not. They should embrace and defend him.

And don't tell me it's because the Yankees haven't won a title in the ARod years. The most beloved Yankee in my lifetime is Don Mattingly - who pulled off the rare feat of spending 14 years as a Yankee without even playing in a World Series. Don Mattingly could set aside every October to paint his garage, take the kids to school, learn Portuguese, shoot deer - because he would not be playing baseball. I've never met a Yankee fan who held that against him.

Other victims of the "Win Now or Be Damned" school of thought are:

  • Giants coach Tom Coughlin is on the verge of clinching his 3rd consecutive playoff appearance, a feat that has only been accomplished one other time (1984-86) in the Super Bowl era. Naturally, Giants fans want Coughlin out of town as fast as possible.
  • Giants fans also want Eli Manning, who has thrown more TD passes and yards in those 3 seasons than any QB in Giants history, sent to the woodshed as well. You would think that these fans would either cut Coughlin some slack for winning with such a bad QB, or cut Manning some slack for winning with such a bad Head Coach - but no, that's not the case.

All of this negativity has caused me to become more of a glass-half-full sports fan - at least for the teams I support. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go write a letter to MSG demanding that Isiah Thomas be fired immediately.

Update (12/7): I take it back. Turns out A-Rod's an evil landlord...


Tom K. said...

Try being a Notre Dame fan (3 wins this season, and the losingest coach since Kuharic went 2-8, and listen to the cries across the country to dump the now "overrated" Carlie Weiss

Tom K. said...

Try being a Notre Dame fan (3 wins this season, and the losingest coach since Kuharic went 2-8, and listen to the cries from "fans" across the country to dump the now "overrated" Charlie Weiss