Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Declassification of the New York Yankees

It certainly feels good to slide away from politics for a moment and get back to something more like social commentary.  That's especially true when I can assail an institution that is perpetually in need of being assailed, because it is so self-important, so pompous and so sure of itself that it just, well, feels good to point out their failings.

No, it's not the left.  It is, of course, the New York Yankees.

Today, though, it is not about the usual things that it's fun to make sport of the Yankees about, not their pomposity, their fat wallet or their short right field.  It is about strikeout music.  In case you have better things to worry about than sounds in Yankee Stadium, ahhhh, read on anyway.  You got this far.

We are all familiar with the fact that baseball has evolved -- devolved, in the view of many -- from the glorious days when there were eight teams in each league and we even knew the names of the organists in our favorite stadium.  There may still be a stadium organ here and there, but nowadays it is a cacophonous blast of contemporary "music", between innings and as the batters come up to bat.  It's a big deal that the players pick their own "entrance music", which is especially ironic when it's a .209 batter who comes up to bat with some utterly oxymoronic sound blaring.

And ... commercials, which brings us to today.

For a few sad years now, when an opposing batter strikes out in the New Yankee Stadium, he returns to the visiting dugout with a piped-in whistle that is the jingle of the New York area electronics store, PC Richard.  I'm sure that PC Richard pays plenty for the right to have that whistle broadcast, but it says a lot -- none of it good -- about the Yankee organization that no one really thought about when the whistle was, in fact, appropriate, and when it was not.

We know that stadiums celebrate achievements of the home nine all the time -- exploding scoreboards, fireworks for home runs, for strikeouts by their pitchers and all that.  But what they have in common is that they celebrate the achievement of the player on the home team.  They don't ridicule the opponent.  That would be wretched sportsmanship and a pretty classless action.

I don't suppose that the Yankees thought that way when they sold rights to the whistle as a strikeout thing.  But I can tell you, as someone who is not from New York, never heard of PC Richard, and watches a lot of baseball, what I see and hear.  And it's not a message as to what electronics store to shop at.

This is what I hear.  I hear a ridiculing of the player on the other team, as if to say "Whistle on your way back to the dugout, son."  I hear "nyah, nyah, nyah, you struck out, ha ha ha, and we have more money than you, nyah, nyah, nyah!"

In other words, I hear poor sportsmanship, sore winners, and a complete lack of class.  When you are the Yankees, the richest team in baseball, economic bullies and buyers of free agents and pennants the last 20 years, it is the complete opposite of what you want be perceived as being.  Can you imagine, for example, the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the true class organizations in baseball, doing that?

And the Yankees organization clearly doesn't even see it.

I have nothing against PC Richard; I don't even know them.  I just would like for the Yankees organization to show enough class to find another routine event, perhaps a good fielding play or big hit, that can be celebrated with that whistle in such a way that it is meant to reflect what a Yankee player did well, and not be seen as a ridiculing of a player on the opposite side.

The other guys, the players on the other teams, are big boys and they can take it.  They couldn't care less.  But it would be a really perceptive action on the part of the Yankees if they stepped away and looked at how bad using the whistle, as they do, makes them look.  It's not a pretty sight.

They have declassified themselves, and not in the good way.

  Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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