October 21, 2004

The Ballad of Derek Lowe

Today's Musical Selection: "Need You Tonight" by INXS

Hi, everyone! I'm still digesting the events of the last few days. I think what I enjoyed most about the series is that the Yankees finally got what's been coming to them for years. The Yankees and their fans have always treated winning as a sort of royal entitlement, as if no other team could legitimately be considered champions. That, combined with the undisguised joy they take in rubbing salt in the wounds of their opponents, is enough to make this grand collapse a glorious moment for all of baseball.

And just as Derek Jeter was the classy, professional symbol of the late-'90s Yankee dynasty, the face of this disintegration belongs to none other than Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees' supposed coup of last offseason. Prior to his donning the pinstripes, I'd never disliked Rodriguez; he was pleasant, articulate, image-conscious and very rich, baseball's answer to Kobe Bryant. But seeing the richest team in baseball acquire the richest player in baseball, a man whose annual salary was only slightly less that the Brewers' entire payroll... well, it made my blood boil. Seeing A-Rod with the Yankees was like seeing Kobe with the Lakers... it seems unfair that one person can possibly have so much good fortune in his life. You get the idea that he's using up the collective good fortune of the population of some Third World country. Even for those not inclined to envy (as I'm not), it's hard not to feel a twinge of... something when you see that much privilege paraded in front of your nose.

And just as it was hard to avoid taking at least a little pleasure in seeing Kobe go on trial, it was hard to avoid rejoicing in Rodriguez's leading his team in its historic tank job. That sissy slap play in Game 6 summarized Yankee arrogance in a nutshell; it was representative of Jeter's phantom tags and Jeffrey Maier catching the ball and every other time the damn Yankees have had the breaks go their way. When the ball popped out of Arroyo's glove and Rodriguez went to second and the run scored and it was 4-3... you could sense the hand of fate reaching down to favor the privileged Yanks yet again. And then you saw the replay, saw what Rodriguez did, realized that the richest player in baseball felt it necessary to cheat to win... and then the umpires did the right thing and called him out. It felt like the scales of cosmic justice were finally evening out after all these years.

And then, of course, A-Rod compounded the felony by complaining when the umpires correctly called him out. He had the incredulous look of a school bully forced to return the lunch money he just stole. And then, of course, he had that classy line in the post-game interview: "I guess I should have run him over." What a jerk. The loss couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

In the dugout during Game 7, A-Rod looked on the verge of tears most of the time. I almost felt sorry for him. I wanted to reach out, touch him softly on the arm and say, "Don't worry, buddy, you'll still get paid."

If you want to feel sorry for somebody, feel sorry for Brian Cashman. Did you see the look on his face last night? It was the look of a man who knew he was about to catch hell. Cashman is a bright guy and a good GM, but he's subject to the whims and rages of a megalomaniacal owner, who undermines clubhouse morale, drains all the fun out of winning and turns losing into hell on earth. He never looked like a Yankee GM anyway... he's so small, frail and peaked that he looks like a small-time hustler who snuck into the luxury box while no one was looking. And now he's going to have to face the wrath and humiliation of a beaten Steinbrenner. Poor Cashman. Some people thoght he'd be fired, but I figured that Steinbrenner would consider that to be letting him off too easy. The worst punishment he could conceive was to force Cashman to remain around the Yankee circus for one more season.

Couple good comments on my item about Jim DeMint. My dear blogfriend Ensie seems as disturbed by DeMint as I am:

I saw this guy on Meet the Press on Sunday. Why would anyone want to vote for this idiot? Tim Russert did a good job of showing just how unable this man is of answering a simple question. In his closing remarks, DeMint stated that he would be a strong leader or some other such total load of crap. He didn't want to clearly state a single opinion and wouldn't back any of his previous statments. What a leader. Of course, his opponent didn't look all that special either.

His opponent, Inez Tanenbaum, is sort of a blank to me. She seems okay, but as Ensie says, she's nothing special. In ordinary circumstances, I might root for Tanenbaum strictly in the hopes of recapturing the Senate, but otherwise not particularly care one way or another. But given that she's running against DeMint, I suddenly have a great deal more invested in her victory than previously. (A friend of my cousin's used to work for DeMint. He quit earlier this year. Near as I can tell, he got out at the right time.)

I mentioned DeMint's story to my dad last night, since he hadn't heard about it. He responded with a laugh, "Well, that remark ought to about sew the election up for him in South Carolina." Sadly, Dad might well be right.

Loyal reader arrScott mused a bit on dumb politicians in general:

The two stupidest men I have ever met were both politicians. the first, a feeble-minded friend of my family and son of a popular former vice president, was a really nice guy but he couldn't maintain a conversation for more than about five minutes without his dim bulb flickering off. He ran for governor of Minnesota in 1998 as a Democrat and came in third.

The other, the single dumbest man I have ever met and the son of a popular former football coach, can't even string together five whole minutes of coherent conversation. The man would fail a Turing test, he's a downright mean man, and I strongly suspect he's functionally illiterate in addition to being massively ignorant. This man has never lost an election in Virginia, and currently serves in the U.S. Senate.

That dichotomy tells me everything I need to know about the differences between north and south in America. When folks in the north discover that a politician is an amiable dunce, they retire him. When folks in the south discover that a politician is a cruel-hearted dunce, they promote him to a higher position.

For those who aren't familiar, the first man arrScott describes is former Minnesota attorney general Skip Humphrey, while the second man is former Virginia governor and current Republican senator George Allen. I've always referred to Allen as "Gomer," since every time he appears in public he's smiling that folksy aw-shucks grin. I always suspected he was a fraud, and I'm not surprised that arrScott's up-close assessment of him matches my impression that he's not the brightest light in the harbor.

As for his north vs. south sentiment... well, I've tried to stop making statements like that, since it tends to irritate my southern friends, of whom I have several. But if someone else says it... I have no problem posting it. (In the interest of fairness, any southern readers who wish to respond with a long and colorful list of corrupt hacks elected by northern states will be granted equal time.)

That's enough for me today. See you tomorrow!

Posted by Fred at October 21, 2004 10:08 PM
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