I was happy going into the ALCS, when the Yankees appreciated the challenge presented to them by Anaheim and took their American League rivals seriously. This trepidation was warranted by the fact that the Angels had been making monkeys out of the Yankees all year long. No, for the entire decade since 2002!
Even the fact that the Yanks had the most impressive performance in baseball all year long could not negate the physical reality of the Angels, and the Yanks had good reason to be concerned. As it turns out, they were right to be concerned. Except for the 10-1 blowout in game 4, the series was a real nail-biter, with more twists and turns than an old Alfred Hitchcock suspense movie.
It turned out all right for the Yanks, but just barely. Unfortunately, the New York sports press, in a full court press to sell more raggedy newspapers, triumphantly declared the Yankees to be an irresistible steamroller that would thoroughly flatten the Phillies despite all the evidence to the contrary. This triumphalist approach completely ignored the physical reality of the Phillies batting lineup, the depth of their pitching, the fact that the Phillies were the defending world champs and the great job they had done grinding up their National League rivals all year long, culminating in their lopsided thrashing of the Dodgers in the NLCS, even as the Yankees were hanging on by their fingernails across town against the Angels.
The Yankees are a great team of ballplayers. They are geniuses at playing baseball, but not any more brilliant than anybody else at figuring out the value of the printed word, which is stylistically one of the great marvels of humanity but ultimately just a lot of hot air compared to concrete reality. Anybody who believes anything they see in print is an idiot, particularly when much of that propaganda is generated by their own promotional machinery. These New York sportswriters are paid to blow up their teams like caricature balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in order to sell newspapers. They are paid salaries and given free tickets and VIP treatment to write that rubbish. Unfortunately, the players themselves hang on every word that is written about them. Given enough of this adulatory treatment, they come to believe it themselves.
Here's my prime example: in yesterday's New York Post, a disgraceful rag of obscene deceit if ever one existed, the editorial cartoon on Page Six showed Tony Soprano in his Italian suit and gangster hat, cigarette hanging from his mouth, threatening a quaking, terrified Phillies mascot with a baseball bat. The implicit message was, you are way out of your depth and we are going to bury you.
This schoolyard nonsense communicates a destructive contradiction of reality. Philadelphia is a tough city and the Phillies are a massive wall of muscle and talent, not a freakin Tickle Me Elmo doll that you knock over with a threatening gesture. They demonstrated that last night as Chase Utley, who is a Home Run Derby champion, thoroughly took apart CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee handled the Yankee lineup as though he were giving batting practice to the Mineola Little League All-Stars. It was ridiculous how Lee dissected the Yankees batting order. Every time he struck out a Yankees batter the guy shot him a look of disbelief, like an ape trying to figure out a trick played on him that was beyond his comprehension.
Last night's 6-1 destruction was a real mess, but if it brings the Yankees back to the reality on the ground it will have had a salutary effect. Forget about that nonsense of being freakin gods descended from Olympus to make cheese-eating New Yorkers feel good about their pathetic selves. Get back to the fundamentals of baseball, taking each inning, each play and each pitch seriously. Forget about journalistic puff jobs written by trained apes. Play baseball.
But this catastrophe has a larger meaning for New York at large. Just as the Yanks got sidetracked by flatulent press articles and hot air over the airwaves, New Yorkers have got to forget about the hot air coming from the power structure that has run the place into the ground. Wall Street, the newspapers, the government have decade after decade run society into the ground. These idiots are not fit to manage anything.
Look at James Dolan and the Knicks! The Knicks are on track to be losers for the ninth straight season. They are waiting for freakin Danilo Galardi to get well and save them. This guy can't even stand up straight because of all his back issues. The New York Times is bankrupt. This great social arbiter of New York society is so far in the tank that they had to accept a $250 million loan from Mexico at 14% interest just to be able to make the interest payments on its previous debt, after selling their building on 43rd Street for chump change, only to see that building flipped for three times what they received for it. Real geniuses!
Look at Donald Trump, the great financial maven of television and Hollywood. All his Atlantic City casinos are in bankruptcy protection. Listening to this guy is like believing what you read in The Post, which itself has seen its circulation fall by 20%. Wall Street? Fuggedaboudit! If you decide to take a walk around the financial district you better wear your football helmet in case a billion-dollar banker jumps out the window and lands on you.
New York is in meltdown mode, and a good part of the problem is people's own false sense of invulnerability and perfection which has come from believing nonsense and self-serving promotional propaganda. Get back to the fundamentals. Play baseball!