NOTE FROM KURT:
No politics. No politics. No politics. I should have read this fanpost closer and just deep-sixed it. Both sides of the issue have been reminded, no politics. Thank you.
[Note: this was written before the series started, but applies even more now. Down 2-0, we need all the Karma we can muster]
Some only slightly out-of-place motivations that can supplement your support for the Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers took down the New York Yankees just after the Occupy Wall Street protests elbowed their way into the national consciousness. How appropriate. The Yankees are the baseball equivalent of the mega transnational corporations and financial institutions that are the focus of the Wall Street occupiers. These huge entities steer the world’s destiny with an ever more firm grip, under the guise, of course, of the “free market.” In baseball, as in the economy, there is no free market, unless that term refers to the freedom of the powerful and entrenched to squish underfoot the lowly and disenfranchised. Just as the fossil fuel sector is free to prevent investment in its potential competitors, the Yankees (and Red Sox) are free to snatch up much of the talent that their potential competitors must produce to compete but which they cannot retain due to Major League Baseball’s systematically entrenched market inequalities. As a result, any defeat of the Yankees naturally takes on a “revenge of the underdog” narrative that is undeniably similar in nature to the vengeance so many people around the world are calling for against the reckless money/power elites that have in the past few decades hollowed out the instruments designed to support the public good in order to increase the power and wealth of the few. The ability and willingness of the Yankees (not to mention the lack of shame) to dominate baseball with the kind of ruthlessness only afforded to the biggest kid on the playground is born of the same principle that allows the BPs of the world to disregard the public good if it stands in the way of even a fraction of their potential gains. In both cases, money speaks larger than ethics or justice.
The Yankees are a microcosm of the 1%, while the Tigers represent the 99%. Granted, the Tigers are no paupers; this isn’t the A’s vs. Yankees narrative, with the A’s taking on the role of the proletariat rising up against the rulers. The Tigers are more like the middle class. From one perspective, they’re treated unfairly by the government-like regulatory body, the MLB, which refuses to balance the playing field, instead allowing the rich teams to use their wealth to an unfair advantage. At the same time, it’s natural for Royals fans to feel at least half of the resentment they feel toward the Yankees toward the Tigers. Like the middle class, the Tigers can at least feel relatively lucky in their class status, and realize they’re friggin’ rich compared to some third-world MLB team that’s so poor it doesn’t even exist. Still, the inequality between the Tigers and Yankees is real, just like the middle class really is getting fleeced, and so a real resentment adds to the normal motivation behind some Tiger fan’s cheering.
That resentment-fueled motivation is deepened when you consider the teams not just as entities in and of themselves, but also as representatives of their fan base. It has been cities like Detroit and states like Michigan that have been hit the hardest by the free-the-big-dogs mentality—born and nurtured in the corporate boardrooms of Manhattan—that has recently hijacked the global capitalist system, so the symbolic parallel between the income/power gaps that exist in the MLB and in the modern global capitalist empire should be especially obvious to fans of the Detroit Tigers (and all those other disgruntled small market baseball fans that tune into the playoffs only in the hopes that they can see the Yankees or Red Sox fall). When your city and state have been decimated by the freedom of huge entities to pull the jobs carpet out from under the feet of workers, and when those entities exist on a scale far beyond your realm of influence, you tend to be sensitive to other instances of the unfair use of power. Thus, even if this connection is not consciously made, many Tiger fans’ extra relish at seeing A-Rod and his 30-plus-million-dollars-a-year strike out to lose the game is tied to the relish they wish they could feel while watching some out-sourcer or leech of a derivatives trader be punished for allowing their greed to compromise the livelihood of countless hard working Americans.
Of course, such symbolic and indirect retribution is but short relief from the cold truth that no one on Wall Street has really been punished and no one with the means to is really doing any serious work to level the gap between the elites and the rest of us. In addition, many Tigers fans would be repulsed by this entire commie argument. But for those of us who spend much of our free time stifling anger at arguments like “stop trying to limit our liberty with regulation, we want people to be able to shoot people goddammit, this is AMERICA!” and “all those who argue for social justice or equality are at once hopelessly naïve and incompetent hippies who are also so dangerous that they’re pretty much Hitler,” for us, Pappa Grande’s dance after making A-Rod miss to end game 5 was a collective expression of sheer vengeful joy. It doesn’t change anything, but it was like a release valve on the anger tank inside us, pressured to busting by Fox News, our bought and sold federal government, Barack Obama’s sharp turn against his own constituents, etc., etc. Beyond being simply a great series our team won, the ALDS, for us, was the symbolic version of the actual revolt those now occupying Wall Street are seeking to bring about. Here’s hoping we can do to [insert your least favorite fat cat here, I choose Larry Summers] what Valverde did to A-Rod: send him packing, hopefully with a number on his back (and it will be a “him,” at least 99% of the time).
Texas is a bit different. The symbolic resonances are not quite so strong or obvious. We have similar teams in similarly strong markets. But then again, looking at that Texas stadium, I am reminded of a few things I resent. When I lived in New Orleans, I absorbed some of the Texas-fatigue, if not overt antagonism, felt by many New Oreanians. Texans can be extremely obnoxious, to the point where all you really want to do is mess with them and their stupid, arrogant “Don’t Mess with Texas” T-shirts, which they actually wear all the time. This is a state that thinks it might just succeed from the union, that is proud of its prisoner kill count and has given us such statesmen as Rick Parry (with an “a”), Karl Rove and a certain former Texas Rangers owner. It also put the Neo Cons on the map, which has been just great for us, and has a school board that would like to change the nation’s textbooks to put evolution and creationism side-by-side as equally valid theories. I think there’s enough residual animosity there to light a fire under this series. Don’t you?
Now, it’s also important not to invest too much into the additional animosities that I’m suggesting may lie beyond a simple sports rivalry. I’m mentioning them only because they seem to naturally crop up (especially with the Yankees). But, the fact remains that this is all just fun and games, and so these residual animosities should only serve to supplement the healthy play-competition that is natural to these mass- spectator sports. If we get too angry at the Yankees or Rangers, then it’s not really fun anymore, and we become the kind of small-minded mean people that we should loath. So let me give the Yankees and Rangers their due. The Yankees deserve much of their dominance. For instance, they didn’t have to steal Jeter or Rivera from anyone, and I hate those guys about as much as I respect them, because they are so good, and have been for so long. Rivera, especially, is an unbelievable player and someone you cannot disrespect at all. Even as he’s striking your team’s side out in five pitches like he did in Game 5, you have to enjoy watching him play. And I’ve also had some great times in Texas. We once got a week off of school because of a hurricane that ended up missing us, and we spent that in the swamps below Houston, having a heck of a time (although we were harassed by cowboy hat-wearing police because our convoy had Maine and Massachusetts plates…). You also have to love team president Nolan Ryan, who just by talking makes you want to go to El Paso or San Antonio and get a big steak and talk over ol’ times on the range (or something like that). I’d also love to make it to Austin some time.
But a great thing about sports is that you get to root with a pure certainty that is impossible in the real world. During a game, I’ll have no sympathy for Rangers fans, because my rooting will not leave the context of that game. And sprinkling a little more joyous venom on there can’t hurt can it? So go get ‘em boys, show ‘em how we do in the D, and mess with Texas until their season is as miserable as Georg W. Bush’s political legacy.