The Team to Beat

With the postseason upon us I can no longer keep from writing a bit about baseball.  At the outset of this postseason some fascinating storylines have emerged, headed up by stories of collapse: The Mets, the Brewers, the Padres, the Tigers, and of course the Dodgers. Couple these teams second half performance with the whole season disappointments that were the White Sox and the Cardinals and you have half of the baseball fans in America whimpering their way into the postseason. But the failure of these teams to live up to their expectations has kept us from recognizing what is due to programs like Arizona, Cleavland, and Philly. The media is beginning to realize this about Philadelphia, a team that was generally pegged as a contender at the beginning of the season. But the two teams worst represented by the poor media focus are the Yankees and the Rockies.

The Rockies have remarkable chemistry, and two great leaders in the fading star of Todd Helton and the rising comet that is Matt Holliday. All season long they showed us they could swing the bat, and suddenly we see Josh Fogg outdealing Jake Peavy and Ramon Ortiz doing what Trevor Hoffman cannot, get an out without giving up runs). For whatever reason such feats have been possible for the Rockies, and this makes it a great story and fascinating baseball to watch. But no one in the media thinks they will make it to the big show. Nobody seems to want to see it.

Instead the question has been whether or not A-Rod will collapse. From what I’ve been hearing the general sentiment is that people would love to see him do well and the Yankees lose. Yet people still pick the Yankees to make it to the World Series, clearly forgetting that the postseason is the different from the regular season; and also forgetting that the regular season was one long uphill climb for the Yanks. Has everyone forgotten about what it took to get them here? Is it that taken for granted? Of course it is, because what people don’t often realize about the way that they treat teams is that they institutionalize them. The Yanks are likely to win, at least in people’s minds, because of the Babe, Mantle, Gehrig, and company. The association of the teams with this heritage is part of what makes baseball so great, so lasting, such a part of the American identity. Teams are not just the roster they field that year. At the end of the month this years story may be the Remarkable Rockies, but for lifelong baseball fans, the story will be tied to their teams and the great institutions of baseball.

For this reason it has taken years for A-Rod to be considered a Yankee. For this reason, people who hated the Yankees for trading for him will love to see him do well. His success, coupled with a Yankee series loss, will enable all the Yankee haters to put the blame on the organization and their ancestors. It will salvage A-Rod in their minds, he will not be the one to blame for the Yanks demise, rather it will be Torre, Steinbrenner, Jeter, and their ancestry that will be defeated in the minds of non-Yankee nation. But if A-Rod wins a World Series with the Yanks the man with the great looks and the god-like power will become dead to us all. Till then he, like us and our beloved teams, is a victim to the unstoppable and ruthless machine that is the New York Yankees.

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