Hirst: Yankees are America’s team

This is the first year I am old enough to watch baseball games at a bar. Wings and dollar drafts and televisions and mirrors are strategically positioned to allow you to see the game regardless of where you stand are unique to the bar scene. Drunk, obnoxious fans are not, but it’s great that the bartenders, the regulars, the diehards, the casual fans, and a few of your friends gather in one, loud, cramped space to cheer on the Yankees. It is an ideal way to spend the evening.

On occasion I have thought to myself that the game is secondary, that the score doesn’t matter, that we could be watching Charlie Rose interview Timothy Geithner about mortgage backed securities and it would stay so crazy it would be, or at least I would be, b’seder. But the truth is that this couldn’t happen; the event wouldn’t be without the game of baseball and without the Yankees.

Those who care about America’s pastime don’t think if it as something connected solely with the Major Leagues nor do we think of it as some bygone era in our history, when fat men with tiny legs could belt homers and build houses. We are thinking about the sport today with a reverence for baseball’s place in the American home and on her streets.

We are thinking of fathers and mothers taking their sons and daughters out into the backyard to throw around a ball and those kids growing up to do the same with their children. We are thinking of trading cards with your picture and statistics listed (“Adam Hirst, 4’8”, 90 pounds, Second base”). We are thinking of middle school kids going to the Park to play baseball, day after day, trash talking, keeping statistics. We are talking about stickball. We are thinking of failing, something inherent in baseball, and getting back on the mound and stepping back into the batters’ box. We are thinking of teamwork and opportunity for individual achievement. We are thinking of civility in an indecent world. We are thinking of a couple of kids with navy blue caps spending recess learning to throw a curveball. We are remembering summers spent at Mott Leeney baseball camp. And, yes, Allen Iverson, we’re talking about (batting) practice.

When we talk about baseball we’re talking about a game, a beautiful game that has marked the time as America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. The field is a part of our past. It reminds us of what was once good and could be again.

My love of the New York Yankees follows from my love of the game. I root for the Nets and Jets and Giants and Devils and Yankees and Mets; I root for my hometown teams.

Many complain that the Yankees simply buy World Series championships. It is for this reason Larry Lucchino called the team the “Evil Empire” and others revile it. The crux of their argument is an attack on the excesses of capitalism. I agree that such excesses exist but not in the Yankee clubhouse. The ballpark is over-the-top, but the diehards only go there occasionally. For them and for me, the love comes from somewhere else.

Generations of American — and international — ballplayers from around the country have dreamed of donning Joe Dimaggio’s pinstripes, swinging the Babe’s bat, and suiting up in Thurmon Munson’s catcher’s gear. Oklahoma’s Mickey Mantle, South Dakota’s Roger Maris, Michigan’s Derek Jeter, Puerto Rico’s Jorge Posada and Panama’s Mariano Rivera have made their way to the same city and done so for the same reasons as artists, businessmen, and writers: To be in the world’s most exciting city and to compete at the highest level.

Today, in bars, in houses, at playgrounds, on this campus we celebrate the 27th championship of a team that represents more than a city, but a nation— her traditions, her exceptionalism and even her faults.

Adam Lior Hirst is a senior in Branford College.

Comments

  • Huh?

    The Yankee’s are anything BUT America’s team. Everyone outside NY hates your team. They may be the most fanatical in America, but they’re certainly not America’s team. That’d be the Atlanta Braves. Wikipedia it.

    “The Atlanta Braves laid claim to the name “America’s Team” due to their games being broadcast on cable television systems nationwide on WTBS, building a fan base in areas of the United States far removed from a Major League Baseball team. A 1982 issue of Sports Illustrated referred to the Braves as “America’s Team II” [The Cowboy's being the original America's Team].

    Thank you, Ted Turner.

  • No.

    I’ve heard more objective (ie, not from Boston or New York) people say that they think the Rex Sox are the quintessential American baseball team. The only people who say the Yankees are are Yankees fans.

  • Yalie

    The Yankees are America’s team. Anyone who says differently is plain hatin’.

    Of course there will be more people who hate the Yankees than love them – there are after all 29 other teams in baseball. But there are more Yankees fans in more places than any other team. The Yankees are the most successful and most famous team in all of professional sports.

    It’s not a Yankees Nation. It’s a Yankees Universe.

  • If the Yankees are America’s team, that really signals something sad about the state of America. The Yankees resemble corporate America more than anyone else…the America that outsources to sweatshops and puts Mom and Pop out of business. If the Yankees are America’s team…is there any hope for us?

  • tradition

    Wait, you root for the Yankees and the Mets? In the American sports tradition, there are few things more despicable than a two-team fan.

  • no, sorry

    the yankees are the most despised team. NOT america’s team.

  • itsbeenreal

    I was in Hawaii in 2007, a few months prior to the World Series, and encountered just as many avid Red Sox fans THERE as back home in Boston—not to mention that the front page of the USA Today that was left in each room featured this article:
    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/al/redsox/2007-08-22-Roadattendance_N.htm

    If you don’t have time to read it, this quotation sums it all up quite nicely:
    “[Sam] Kennedy,[the Red Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing], says the rise of Red Sox Nation has little to do with a marketing strategy. ‘We’d be foolish to say we had anything to do with Red Sox Nation.'”
    Contrary to the Yankees’ aura, which reeks of cash, Red Sox fans are true of heart. That’s where this “Nation” comes from: love for the team, not for pure statistics, reliability (in terms of winning, because God love them, but the Sox are very unreliable in this sense!), or the amount of money the team has.

    If the existence of fandom to so great a geographical extent that it spans to Hawaii isn’t indicative that the Red Sox are irrefutably “America’s Team,” than I’m not sure what is.

  • cnc

    I agree with the headline but they are because money rules and those who have money make the rules.

    It’s interesting that many comments here reinforce the unpleasant side of the metaphor.