Two of my favourite types of columns in the sports journalism world are “why your team sucks” and eulogy columns for whoever has taken the biggest and most highly publicized L in the playoffs recently. I wrote a particularly scathing take on legend-turned-embarrassment Phil Jackson over the summer, and it was the particular kind of therapy you could never pay for. That being said, let’s talk about baseball’s loveable (and hateable) losers.
The Chicago Cubs snapped the longest championship drought in the history of North American sports last year, winning the hearts of millions and the World Series after 108 years of choking. No amount of shaky bullpen appearances or Willy Wonka Managing (Joe Maddon actually walked into my home and attempted to replace me with a different journalist mid-article just now, because that’s something he does, I guess) could prevent the team of destiny from breaking the goat-based curse that has plagued the north side of Chicago for over a century. Last year.
This year, all of the Cubs quirks would end up being their downfall. Joe Maddon looked less like the NL manager of the year and more like a shift manager at a shoppers who got sacked for being awful at scheduling. During the NLCS, the entire Cubs roster forgot to how swing a bat. Javy Baez had 2 hits in 26 appearances through the first four games, in a series the Cubs lost 4-1. The team’s batting average was below .200. The Cubs walked more batters than one of those horizontal escalators at the airport. You know the one. The dream team, the team of destiny, Bill Murray’s heroes, came up wildly short in an embarrassing loss and fall from grace.
So we’ve covered the loveable losers. Let’s talk about the worst team in American sports. Let’s talk about the New York Yankees.
I’m not even sure where to start with the Yankees, or why exactly I hate them so much. Is it the fact that a large majority of the teams championships (19 out of 27) came back when baseball was still a segregated sport, yet Yankees faithful love to talk about how they’re best franchise in the world? Is it the fact that in a sport without a salary cap and a laughable luxury tax, the Yankees incredibly wealthy ownership group can buy whatever talent they want, and still underperform to cash-strapped expansion teams? Have I been conditioned to hate them because of the heavy east coast bias in American sports media, and their constant, unrelenting coverage of the most soulless and phony organization in sports? It’s probably all of these things, and more, and I don’t care, because the Yankees suck.
The single most infuriating thing about this years Yankees team was Aaron Judge. Judge can hit the ball. He can hit the ball hard and far. That’s pretty impressive. He ended the regular season with a .289 batting average and 52 home runs. Despite the 202 strikeouts, that’s still pretty impressive! His playoff numbers? Not so much.
In the last three games against the Indians, Judge struck out 11 times in 13 at bats. After going 0-4 in last weekend’s crucial game 7 against the Houston Astros, managing to strike out only once, Aaron Judge set the record for strikeouts in a single post season. 27 strikeouts. Normally, above average players going into historically bad slumps isn’t worthy of drawing this kind of ire, but then you had the headlines. The ESPNs and the Bleacher Reports all clamouring to claim that Aaron Judge’s nights, nights in which he had one solo home run and 3 strikeouts “powered” the Yankees to an 8 to 5 victory. How on earth did Judge do anything to power anyone? You could remove him from the game and the Yankees still would have won. Maybe they would’ve done better. Most people who aren’t Adam Dunn strike out 3 times a game.
Ultimately, the Yankees losing is a good thing for every single fan of baseball outside of NYC. They’re a soulless organization made even worse by the hyperfocus of their history (which again, was made almost entirely in the era of baseball’s segregation) by the media. Fuck the Yankees.
Go Leafs Go.