This Post Is For the Rats

October 30, 2007 at 11:56 pm | Posted in Sports, Yankees | 5 Comments

yanksfinger.jpgDuring the early innings of the Yankees’ final game this season, the chorus from “Cotton” by The Mountain Goats kept reverberating through my skull.

Following each meek at-bat against the venerable Paul Byrd, I sang those simple words like a yoga mantra, feeling lighter with each incantation.  “Let them all go.  Let ’em all go…”

Layer by layer, the anxiety of a summer spent buffering slipped away.  The parade of Igawas, Clippards, Rassners, Wrights, DeSalvos, and Karstenses (Karsteni?).  Carl Pavano.  A-Fraud.  Clemens.  Joba and the midges.  Johnny, Bobby, Melky, Shelley, Hideki, and Robbie.  Even Mr. Torre and the True Yankees.  Let ’em all go.

By the third inning, I was watching the season premiere of “I Love New York” on VH1.  By the eighth inning, I was in bed, with that comforting tune still echoing over and over.  The bats are dead.  The arms are dead.  Baseball season is gone.  Let it all go.

For a few days there was peace, but that peace was short-lived.  The weeks that followed have left me utterly confused, and on most Yankee-related matters, I find myself bewildered, scratching my head and wondering, “What is going on?  Who am I?  And how did I get here?”  Letting it all go has not been as easy as I’d hoped.

Today, the only thing I know with certainty is what I knew with certainty on June 6 when I wrote of Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson:

I don’t get the fascination with this old coot.  It reminds me of the way we Yankee fans have pinned our hopes on the arrival of Roger Clemens, another pudgy, past-his-prime blowhard with a hot wife who is unlikely to right a fast-sinking ship.  It’s tough times in the GOP and the Bronx.

Though sometimes heralded as the turning point for the season, inking that deal with the devil was indeed the death knell.  Roger Clemens is a delusional, pathetic, broken-down phony.  With him, we were doomed.  And God help us if we entertain the notion of wheeling him out there again next year.

girardi.jpgBut who will we turn to?  What are we left with?  What the F is going on?

It began with the crude dismissal of Joe Torre, which didn’t bother me all that much.  Breaking up is hard to do, and even the cleanest splits are ugly.  So I couldn’t get too worked up about this one.  Clearly, the team needs to hear a new voice because something’s gone awry.  But sending the old man off to pasture was disconcerting all the same.

Then there was the selection of Joe Girardi over Donnie Baseball, another move that doesn’t bother me.  But what happened?  For weeks we read about the inevitability of Mattingly’s coronation.  He was Papa Steinbrenner’s favorite.  It was his destiny.  So what happened?  Now Torre’s gone, Mattingly’s gone, Guidry’s gone, Pena’s gone*.  And the backup catcher is at the helm.  He got fired in Florida after a season in which he won Manager of the Year.  That’s kinda weird, right?  Is this really going to be OK?

And what are we to make of Purple Lips, who shall no longer sink our ship?  I fell asleep during the fourth inning of Game Four, and only learned that Rodriguez opted out while listening to Howard Stern the next morning.  Like many Yankee fans, my heart and mind have been bitch-slapping each other ever since.

On the one hand, my heart feels great joy.  Finally we are rid of this clubhouse cancer who we tried so desperately to embrace.  At times, we almost got there.  We found something endearing in his awkwardness.  Despite his flaws, we imagined his redemption, raising a World Series trophy and then another and another, and eventually crushing a Josh Beckett fastball into Monument Park to surpass Barry Bonds as the greatest slugger ever.  Wouldn’t it be grand!

But it was not to be.  And deep inside, our hearts have been telling us all along that this mercenary is not right for us.  You can only ignore the hot chick’s grating laugh and dull personality for so long.  Try as you may, there is more to love than a great set of tits and gaudy regular season numbers.  Our hearts would gladly have traded the mighty Alex Rodriguez for Scott Brosius or even Charlie Hayes.

arodguitar.jpg“Bullshit!” cries out the mind.  “This is insanity!”  

It recites statistics and accolades, and bluntly reminds us of productivity lost.  Who will be our cleanup hitter?  Are we to cross our fingers and hope for a Jason Giambi resurgence?  Are we to believe that Shelley Duncan is more than a Shane Spencer flash in the pan? 

Is Mike Lowell the answer to our prayers at third?  Or is he a soon-to-be has-been who we’ll pay mightily for past accomplishments?

For that matter, can the same be asked of Mariano and Jorge?  The thought of replacing these two is too much to bear.  But how much will they cost?  And what do they have in the tank? 

“They are True Yankees,” the heart notes.  “They must return.” 

The mind is a smarmy son-of-a-bitch though.  It smirks and mocks the heart.  “They are Truly Old Yankees.  Do you really think Posada has one, much less three, more years that will be anything like this last one?  Do you still feel confident when Mariano comes into the game?  How much less confident will you feel at the end of this next would-be contract?”

I try to focus on Joba and Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy.  But even there, I find little solace.  Nothing is certain with kids.  They could just as soon lead us to a fourth place finish as they could lead us to the Promised Land.  Maybe one of them will be traded for Johan Santana.  Would that make me happy?  Would that mean I also have to say goodbye to Melky?  I love Melky. 

And what to make of Chien Min-Wang.  Who is this guy?  Should I feel OK about him?  And why can I never remember how to spell his name?  Do I really have to watch Mike Mussina again next year?  Will Andy Petite retire?  Would I care?  And what about Derek Jeter?  Am I an alarmist if I feel dismayed that he hit into three double plays against the Indians?  Or will he return to Captain Clutch form when it matters?

And who will answer these questions?  Is George calling the shots?  Is he even lucid?  Is grandma still farting?

Of course, none of this matters.  I should settle down and put this behind me.  Let it all go.

papelbon.jpgBut it is not easy here in Greater Boston.  As I type this, Jonathan Papelbon is doing “yet another” dance in a kilt during “yet another” rolling rally to celebrate “yet another” World Series championship.  You hear and see this “yet another” construction quite a bit around here these days.  And it, too, is disconcerting.  The 2004 championship was relatively painless.  Let the babies have their bottle, I thought. 

But this in 2007 – watching douchey Schilling get a third ring for his porky hands and inch closer to the Hall of Fame – is just too much.

I see that Old Man Timlin is dancing alongside Papelbon.  And I can almost imagine him coughing up leads in pinstripes next year, like former Sox Mike Myers and Allen Embree before him.  Contemplating this horror, I’m reminded for the first time during this post that Kyle Farnsworth still occupies a place on the Yankee roster.  Jesus H. Christ, what are we to make of this?  What has happened to us?

These are dark, strange, and perplexing days to be a Yankee fan.  But at least we are not retards.  And I guess that counts for something.

*Apparently Pena’s not gone and will stay on as Girardi’s first base coach.



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  1. So we used to wonder what the fuck was wrong with Yankees fans. Why, when you’ve got the world by the balls, would you still behave like such douchebags?

    But we were losers. Winning, it turns out, makes retards of us all.

    Having been both, I choose retard.

  2. Cashman’s gotta go for that team to turn back around. Either he let himself get steamrolled against his better judgment or his better judgment is pretty bad. Even the Abreu move was kind of dumb. Never buy a stock at its peak.

  3. Added, I think “No Children” might be a more appropriate Mountain Goats song for the state of the Yankees.

  4. Added: Schilling has no more chance at the Hall of Fame than I do. Though Phil Rizzuto’s mediocre ass is in, so maybe I’m wrong…

  5. […] It, Boras November 15, 2007 at 2:41 am | In Sports, Yankees | Like I’ve been saying all along.  I love […]

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