It is clear that the Red Sox will soon delight their long-suffering fans by reaching the World Series for the first time since 1986. We applaud them for their historic comeback, as much as it irks us to lose to them, of all teams.
Undoubtedly, there are many readers who have no sympathy for the Yankee fan, and not merely the joyous citizens of the so-called Red Sox Nation. To fans of all other baseball teams, the Yankees and their fans appear much as Americans appear to the citizens of all other nations — spoiled with obscene prosperity that they then, adding insult to injury, proceed not merely to enjoy, but to expect, at all costs. To the rest of the baseball world, the Yankees are the hyperpower, led by a boasting, undiplomatic, bloviating madman named George, using their tremendously disproportionate wealth to tilt the playing field in their favor and to insidiously appropriate the resources of the less fortunate.
When the Yankees are humbled, it is a time to rejoice — not merely for the partisans of the side that has bested them, but also for all those who feel that the Yankees’ extraordinary success has led, in one way or another, to their own failure, in the same way that many in the world rejoice when the United States fails. Recall the reaction of the French(y) intellectual Jean Baudrillard to the attacks of September 11th:
[W]e have dreamed of this event, … everybody without exception has dreamt of it, because everybody must dream of the destruction of any power hegemonic to that degree…. It is almost they who did it, but we who wanted it.
Could this not express the reaction of all the Yankee-haters in the land this day?
Of course, this analogy has limits — I don’t want to take this too far into the absurd and suggest that the Red Sox and their fans hate freedom in quite the same way that terrorists or Frenchmen (quelle est la différence?) do. And in contradistinction to the ruler of the United States, the autocrat of the Yankees demands accountability from those to whom he entrusts the pursuit of his goals — he’s even been known to fire people from time to time.
But as New Yorkers discovered in the fall of 2001 — in September, and once again, in November — as much success as you may have had, as pleasant as your life may have been compared to the suffering of others, when you are hurt, you feel the pain all the same.
EARLIER: Rooting for the Overdog