Must There Only Be One?

The question weighing on every Mets fan’s mind for the past week: Who to root for in the World Series? And if that question didn’t weigh on your mind, I’m sure you’ve met a Yankee or Phillie fan who was more than happy to lob the question at you until you pleaded for mercy.

Maybe the real question is, Do I have to root for anyone? Can’t I just watch the World Series in the hopes of seeing some exciting games? I watch football games all the time that I have zero rooting interest in, and enjoy myself quite a bit if the game is good. Can’t I just do that with the World Series?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, for two reasons: 1) This is already touted as a battle between two “evenly-matched teams”, which virtually guarantees that one team will slaughter the other. It’s always a five-game series where one team ekes out a win in, like, game 3, while the victor destroys the other team 10-3 in every other game.

Reason number 2: It’s the Yankees vs. the Phillies. No matter who a Mets fan roots for, it will be bad. If the Yankees win, they’ll have to hear it from their fans about how they easily dispatched the team that’s tortured the Mets the last three seasons. If the Phillies win, their fans might finally achieve the arrogance and entitlement of Boston fans, while retaining their traditional anger and penchant for mayhem, a deadly combo.

So can you root for one team to lose? No, you can’t. Because whoever loses will still have made it to the World Series. Losing in the World Series is not humbling, unless you blow a big lead or have totally disastrous meltdown a la Bill Buckner. In other words, even the loser can lord that fact over the Mets. And if you actively root for the team that wins and rejoice in their victory, you’ll need to shower for a week to wash the shame from your soul.

This is like Alien vs. Predator: no matter who wins, we lose. Or like a situation Tom Scharpling once called “the reverse Highlander”: must there only be one? Or, please let there be just one.

The Unanswerable Question raised its ugly head as I watched game 6 of the ALCS with my extended family. Most of them are Mets fans of varying degrees of fanaticism, but there are few Yankees fans in the mix as well–particularly an uncle who’s loved to torture my mom about the Mets’ woes. So when the Angels went down in order in the ninth, the ball had barely left Mariano Rivera’s hand before this uncle asked me and my brothers and cousins who we would root for.

Our initial response was, begrudgingly, the Yankees. Now that Roger Clemens is long gone and disgraced, I don’t hate anyone on the team, whereas the Phillies have several players I can not stand (exhibit A: Shane Victorino, an obnoxious, hypocritical punk who’d hit about 7 homers a year in any other ballpark and any other lineup). I know a lot of Yankees fans who are decent human beings and who will be happy if they win. The pain that the Phillies have inflicted on the Mets in the past few years is much more fresh and cutting than anything the Yankees done. And when the Phillies won last year, even during their championship parade, they wouldn’t shut up about the Mets, as if the only reason they won the World Series was because it might hurt the Mets’ feelings.

Yes, my first thought was that I could imagine myself quietly rooting for the Yankees in this situation. And then I saw this in today’s New York Post:

nypost_102709.jpg I have a hard time deciding which is worse: the front or the back cover. And yes, I realize this is coming from the Post, not the Yankees themselves. But it’s indicative of certain type of Yankee fan and organization arrogance, dismissiveness, and flat-out ignorance of anything outside of the Yankee Universe

Let’s start with the front cover. And let’s ignore the bad Photoshop job on Cheerleader Victorino. And I’ll try to forget the fact that I hate Victorino for a moment. The Phillies are the defending world champs. They’re a really good team. They beat the Yankees two out of three at the Stadium earlier this year. It’s really dumb and childish to write them off as if they’re nothing, just because they’re from Philly, and to think that they’ll wither and die under the MAJESTY and the AURA of the New York spotlight.

Not to mention the caveman sexual politics behind depicting someone in a skirt to imply that they’re weak. Because women wear skirts and they’re so weak and fragile and can’t drive! And don’t get me started on my mother-in-law!

Peep some of these idiotic quotes from the accompanying article, entitled “Their fans are second rate & so is their city”:

Yankee fans have a message for the Phillies and their hometown: This ain’t Rocky, and the underdog won’t win!

Are the Phillies the underdog? Maybe, but not by a huge margin. I think anyone with half a baseball mind knows that the Phillies are a strong team up and down. The bullpen has regressed (or Brad Lidge has, anyway), but their starting pitching and lineup is actually better than it was last year. A good chunk of Yankee fans wouldn’t know that, because they’re are about as familiar with the NL as they are with self-restraint and perspective.

“Philly fans are a bunch of whiners and should learn how to dress[, said a fan] “They should try reading GQ.”

This has to be the first time a sports fan has insulted other sports fans by suggesting they pick up an issue of a high class fashion magazine. “Those mooks down in Philly don’t even know how exfoliate! Yo, try pickin’ up some skin products from the fine people Aveda some time!”

And don’t even try to compare the iconic House That Ruth Built with the long-gone Veterans Stadium.

You mean the iconic House That Steinbrenner Tore Down so he could bully the city into building a new billion-dollar Yankee Stadium on public land? Or are you referring to the iconic NYY Steak/House of Blues/Johnnie Walker Pavilion with the baseball diamond in the middle of it?

Of course, the article is filled with fans talking shit about Philadelphia and saying how it can’t compare to New York. You will not find a more pro-NYC person than yours truly, but thumping your chest about the greatness of your city is lame at best, bullying at worst. If New York is truly as great as you think it is, you shouldn’t have to put down other places to prove it.

But if anything can top the idiocy and short-sightedness of the Post’s front cover, it’s the back cover. The Yankees wanna win one for The Boss? Really?

Here’s how George A. King III starts his article that rests upon this thesis:

The Boss has lost something off a Hall of Fame fastball, but that doesn’t mean the need to win has been sucked from his marrow.

There are quotes from Derek Jeter, Reggie Jackson, Brian Cashman, and the Steinbrenner sons, all insisting that winning this World Series would “mean a lot” to the ailing Boss.

You won’t see buttons attached to the pinstriped uniforms that read, “Win One For The Boss,” but there is a feeling in the organization that it would be a nice touch to give the 79-year-old Steinbrenner another title.

Sure, the Yankees have won six World Series under his ownership already, but that’s small potatoes. Ring number seven, that’s the real special one.

Winning a World Series would be “a nice touch”. Yankee fans, wanna know why everyone hates you? Peep that statement. It’s like an entire organization of those rich assholes from the Lexus commercials.

Look, I know that Alzheimer’s is terrible. I’ve had family members suffer from it. I don’t wish it on my worst enemy. The Wife and I have already said that if either one of us gets it, the other one is morally obligated to push them in front of a moving bus.

But the fact that George Steinbrenner suffers from it now shouldn’t make us forget the fact that, before he was banned from baseball in the early 90s, he was an insufferable prick. The fact that he ruined the franchise. Yankees fans literally cheered when he was banned–at Yankee Stadium. And after his reinstatement, he was only slightly less intolerable. I understand not wanting to speak ill of someone who’s sick, but this goes beyond that into the realm of historic revisionism.

So who am I rooting for? The meteor, the earthquake, the last-minute union job-stoppage, or the month-long rainstorm that would wipe out any hope of a World Series this year.