Coach's Corner

Coach is having none of this "Subway Series" BS. Only question is: Which team does he hate the most?

The World Series occurs each autumn with no more controversy than Halloween. This year it's different. "A series between the Mutts and the Yuckies! I hope it rains for a month straight in New York and then snows -- I'll just watch replays of the women's Olympic softball ..." "I can't think of a more nauseating matchup than those two. For me personally, as a Red Sox fan, it's almost too much to bear. I will watch none ..." "I don't think I'll watch a single inning of the Subway Series. A head-on train wreck, one train carrying the Mets and the other the Yankees, might be an excellent subway start." These unsolicited e-mails are typical examples of the extraordinary, unprecedented venom vomited up and out of the body politic, the result of two New York teams making it into the World Series.

It's as if the entire nation was Austin and the BCS Bowl in January pitted Oklahoma against Texas A&M, or better yet, Arkansas. Even to the most casual fans, all kinds of ugly, complex emotions come boiling to the surface, as pus runs from the pierced pimple. Count me at the head of the anti-Subway Series gaggle of hostile fans carrying pitchforks and pikes into battle. Perhaps an examination of my motives will be of some use in shedding light upon this odd phenomenon.

First, Yankee-hating is not a new or novel pastime. Indeed, Yankee-hating is as American as a steamed hot dog with sweet pickle relish. If there's one characteristic most commonly associated with being American -- aside from being loud and obnoxious -- it's being on the side of the underdog, and, conversely, having a tendency to cheer for the big and the powerful to trip or better yet, break their nose. This might help Cowboy fans grasp why the rest of America roots against their team ... no matter their record. In any case, this egalitarian inclination dates back to the time of our fight with the King of England, some years past.

This anti-elitist American tendency has, I believe, abated somewhat during the prosperous Nineties when, by virtue of our 401K portfolios, we now consider ourselves high-level executives -- indeed, vested owners! -- in GE, Proctor & Gamble, IBM, and Coca-Cola. Nevertheless, the metaphor of the monolithic, gray, dull, impersonal, grinding corporate machine, remorselessly crushing all in its path, is what that pristine white-and-blue pinstripe uniform (much like the gray helmet with that damn blue star) represents to the much of America. Consider this: Of the 97 World Series ever played, the New York Yankees, just one little team in a league of first eight and now 14 teams, appeared in 37 of them, winning 25. Over a quarter of the Series have ended with the New York Yankees as champions.

We Americans are all about fair play and whatnot. The current Yankees have a pitcher, Mariano Rivera, who's a cyborg. He's literally impossible to hit, having given up what, zero runs in his last 77 Series appearances? They have two other relief pitchers, Nelson and Stanton (who look like the same guy), pedestrian enough in long summer, but unhittable in the postseason. If a team doesn't have a three-run lead against them after five innings, they'll lose. That's not fair. When they need a lucky bounce, they get it. Their batters foul off 10 pitches per at-bat, adding an hour to every game, but getting a walk or hit in the end. That's frustrating and it's unfair. So I didn't care that KXAN chose to televise the Bush/Gore debate instead of NY/Seattle. I knew who was going to win. I couldn't stand to watch it. The New York Yankees have never been about fair.

As is known, I idled away the flower of my youth as a Cub fan. The Mets are, for me, a different story. My distaste of the Yankees, though quite real, is nonetheless abstract. The Metropolitans are personal. Born in the expansion of '62, this team (the mocked subject of book and song) was the worst in baseball history. They lost 120 games that season. The Cubs, however, they beat like a drum. And in '69, it was "the Amazin' Mets" who chased down a 9.5-game late-season Cub lead, winning 38 of their last 49 games, crushing the only good team the Cubs have put on the field in the past half-century. It was the first time, but not the last, that the Mets would crush my spirit. This hatred is long-term and well-earned.

That's my personal story. I suspect that most people's anti-Met bias is more an Eastern media bias than Met-specific. The national media (Eastern) loves this whole Subway Series bullshit. And why not? Instead of packing up and schlepping to St. Louis/ Oakland/St. Louis, the national press corps moves into $450-per-night Manhattan hotel rooms for two weeks, expense accounts at the best bars and restaurants in the world, and hobnobs around with all their old buddies from J-school. The lazy stories write themselves. No matter that we out here in the vast hinterlands (west of the Hudson River) resent the media cramming stuff we don't like down our throats. They're having a fine time.

The Waldorf Astoria isn't all that bad, you know.

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