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I felt like Marisa Tomei in "My Cousin Vinny," when she's meeting Vinny outside the courthouse:

Lisa: What name did you tell him? 
Vinny: Jerry Gallo. 
Lisa: Jerry Gallo! The big attorney. 
Vinny: Yeah. 
Lisa: Think that was a smart move? 
Vinny: Yeah, well, the man's a seriously accomplished lawyer. If he checks up on this guy, his name will come up all over the place. 
Lisa: His name was in the papers all last week. 
Vinny: Yeah, I saw that. 
Lisa: But you didn't actually read the articles. 
Vinny: No 
Lisa: Too bad. 
Vinny: Why's that? 
Lisa: 'Cause he's dead. 

It was a LITTLE like that today when circa 4:00 I have the following conversation:

Boston: And btw, the Bruins are gonna kick the Rangers' ass tonight.
Me: Oh yeah I forget you're a big Bruins fan now. Must be psyched about the game.
Boston: Um YEAH.
Me: Really. 
Boston: Ugh. Why, what is it.
Me: Cause the's game been over for an hour. 


Jamie, Milton, MA: The Bruins need you.... 

SportsNation Bill Simmons: (2:51 PM ET ) I will be there in April. I can't start watching hockey until after March Madness. I am monitoring from afar and couldn't feel more proud for the long suffering fans. The bottom line is that the salary cap has eliminated the franchise's biggest obstacle for the last 30-plus years: The cheap-ass owner. So the B's actually have a shot at winning a Cup.

1.) The fact that Simmons now considers himself a Bruins fan, (and probably an even more hard-core one since he has to "monitor" them all the way from LA. 
2.) The fact he is proud of "long-suffering fans" when the fact is he and probably 70% of Bruin "fans" know damn well they started watching hockey this year. If they just came out and admitted this, I'd be less disgusted. But no, instead I have to be subjected to this manufactured breed of fanaticism.
3.) The fact he attributes the team's lack of success to the lack of salary cap. Which--just watch--will eventually morph into an article from him that frames the Bruins as just another good ol' extension of Boston's blue collar, underdog, homegrown heroes. 
4.) The fact he claims he can't start watching til after March Madness, which COINCIDENTALLY happens to coincide with the playoffs. "I can't start watching until the Bruins are in the playoffs. Then I'll be the President of all Things Bruins, while simulataneously exploiting the "long-suffering fan" marketability."

"Winning is nice if you don't lose your integrity in the process."--Arnold Horshak, "Welcome Back, Kotter"

Forget steroids. Forget asterisks. Forget gambling, sideline taping, dogfighting, DUIs, and firearm possession. While they all are the headlining stars of the dramatic Demise of Sports feature film, they are also eclipsing other infractions that may be technically legal, but are much more cancerous. 

The most salacious sins and underhanded offenses occur squarely in the gray area, the insidious trap of loopholes and defendable vices. On the contrary, performance-enhancing substances and criminal misdemeanors stack up neatly in the black and white areas, the right and wrong silos.

As disgraceful as these wrongdoings may be, at least they uniformly recognized as unacceptable. But when it comes to things like basic humanistic integrity and moral fiber, there’s no irrefutable litmus test.

Word of Joe Torre’s controversial contributions to “The Yankee Years” have been lighting up the news reels for the past week, sparking heated discourse with fans of every team as to what this does to Torre’s once-ennobled reputation.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of A-Rod or Steinbrenner, and regardless of what kind of tyranny Torre was subjected to at his players or boss’s hands, he was out of line. This is a manager who made no bones about his disapproval over David Wells’ notorious Yankee memoir, “Perfect I Am Not.”

“What happens in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse” was the Skipper’s fundamental golden rule, and he was ticked off that Wells didn’t honor it. Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone, Joe.

No, he’s no longer sporting pinstripes. Yes, he was thrown under the bus. And no, technically he has no remaining obligation to his old stomping grounds. But the fact that so many Yankee fans feel betrayed is evidence enough that what he did, quite simply, wasn’t right. Does it matter if there’s an explanation, or he can produce a viable defense? It certainly won’t when we see #6 on some new outfielder, instead of Monument Park.

You’re better than that, Torre. C’mon.

But it’s not just this. There’s a whole legion of slime in need of watching the final monologue in Scent of a Woman.

The other New York club isn’t any stranger to stomach-punching either, as demonstrated in the abhorrent firing of Willie Randolph last year. Firing a guy’s one thing. Breaking the news circa midnight in effort to sidestep morning press, when the firee’s on the opposite coast and about to fly home…despicable.

I don’t care if the Mets were 0-68 at the time. Nothing should transcend basic respect.

And what of the girl’s high school basketball team that won 100-0? What kind of coach allows this? What kind of people were in the stands that didn’t storm the court in protest? And what kind of girls continue to take jump shots from behind the arc even after a 30 point lead, let alone the 4th quarter?

These lapses in empathetic decency are perhaps more disturbing because the game isn’t on the line, literally. It’s not about cutting corners to get a win. It’s about personal vendettas and ulterior motives. It’s not even excusable with “Winning At All Costs.” How would the Mets franchise have suffered if they waited til Willie was back in New York? What did Torre have to gain by airing the locker room banter? Book sales? He doesn’t need the money.

An unnecessary evil, this kind of departure from basic class speaks volumes. 

I know what I'm dealing with with sports, and I don't expect or even want it to be aking to some kind of summer camp, arm-linking, fireside, friendship celebration. I think bench-clearing brawls are entertaining. I think throwing a 65-year old man to the ground is crossing the line. Breaking up a double-play by sliding hard into second is part of the game. Stealing second when up by 10 has no place in the game. Laying down a bunt during a perfect game when the score’s 2-0, is the right thing to do. Staying out of the game to preserve your batting average when the batting title’s at stake is pathetic.

Sports don’t exist in a vacuum, so it’s unrealistic to hold them to impossible standards. The game will never be immaculate, it never was and never will be. Every legend has a transgression to his name, whether it’s Babe Ruth’s carousing and drinking, Michael Jordan’s gambling, Larry Bird’s absentee fatherhood, Ty Cobb’s existence, etc…I don’t ask for or expect sports to be unblemished, or even close to it.

What’s tarnishing the integrity of the game isn’t the rampant yet ambiguous drug use. It’s the general dereliction of fundamental class. Sports were born from the spirit of competition, but are morphing into a Lord of the Flies-esque cut-throat war.

The bottom line, the grey area of anything grants its inhabitants immunity from culpability. There are no rules delineating the right and wrong way to handle things. You can technically get away with passing on 4th down when up by 30. There’s no law against exposing your team’s dirty laundry. And no jury will convict you for humiliating someone.

I remember in my old neighborhood, there was a short little stone tunnel/overpass-type structure. I think it was more for aesthetic purposes, because nothing really went over it, per se. It was right in the middle of residential, 2-way side street, but it was only narrow enough for one car to pass through. It was an exercise in chivalry and courtesy, almost, whenever you saw another car through the other side. You just waited for it to go through, or vice versa. Then one day, they put a traffic light up on either side of it, and my mom hated it because whenever someone let her go through the little breezeway, she considered it a mini-celebration of human decency.

I know, it’s a stretch, but I empathize. I get like that if someone gives up their subway seat. But the point is, the traffic light made the grey issue a black and white one. No one technically has the right of way in the type of situation, but it relied on an unwritten code.

A moral rubric will never be published, nor should it, as doing so will effectively transform “ethics” into “laws.” However, as it is, as nebulous as ethics may be, they still pull rank on whatever else is at stake, whether it’s a job, a game, or money.

Take Ted Williams, who played a double-header against the Philadelphia A’s in 1941, when he could have locked up his .400 by simply not playing. But instead he went 6 for 8 and ended the year on .406.

He stood to gain nothing. But he knew how to play the game. He knew it wasn’t about what you can get away with, and what’s admissible by the official rulebook. Because when it came down to it, he was willing to risk losing a record before he’d risk losing his integrity.

And THAT’s the way the game should played.

NY Post and Daily News essentially were tripping over themselves to see who could break the story first. And in the world of borderline tabloid press, that means infusing as much dramatic hype and controversy into the headline, and then doing their damnedest to retrofit the minimal info available into supporting such leads.

A week before "The Yankee Years" is even coming to bookshelves, Torre is being slammed for his tell-all. Which isn't even 100% by Torre. Or is a tell-all. I keep going back and forth on the issue, and I've come up with a few thoughts:

1.) I worked in publishing in my few year out of college. Granted, it was medical publishing, so it's not really possible to publish a 12-month clinical trial before, in fact, 12 months. But the point is, the time from when the onset of a publishing venture to the day the book hits the shelves is anything but expedited. Hell, it takes me a day to throw a couple thousand words up on the internet. So MAYBE, when Torre said "eff off" to Steinbrenner's paltry and insulting offer, publishing houses probably swarmed him like he was Joba in the ALDS. And MAYBE the wounds were still gushing. 

"Co-author a book that lambasts the Steinbrenners?! Show me where to sign!"

And MAYBE after he had settled into comfy arms of LA, the damage had already been done. He had already said too much, and his name was already firmly attached to it. 

2.) Who isn't guilty of ragging on their buddies? 

"So, let's talk a little about your spouse/sibling/parent/inordinately susceptible to public backlash 3rd baseman."

"I said to him, 'Alex, do me a favor and get a cup of coffee by yourself instead of sending someone to get you a cup of coffee.' A little while later. he goes out of his way to find me. He's carrying a cup of coffee. 'Look, Skip,' he said. 'I got my own cup of coffee!'"

I'm TRYING to picture him saying this with a half smile, faintly shaking his head. Kinda like you'd talk about the latest game-costing Manny error. "I said to him, 'Manny, do me a favor and keep track of the outs/hit the cut-off man/just don't roll around in the outfield when the ball's growing moss under your ass.'"

3.) Having now concocted 2 benefit-of-the-doubt [unlikely] situations, the whole thing is still not sitting well with me. Because who cares how he said it, or why, or what context it was in? The fact is, perception is reality. And it doesn't matter what he meant because anyone who wasn't born in the past half hour knows that ARod is flypaper for public criticism. He's not Manny. And maybe it's a pain in the ass to deal with, but we are who we are. People don't change. Saying ANYTHING about ARod is automatically going to be inputted into the Controversy/Unseemingly Press generator. 

Even if ARod required ALL the handholding in the world, even if he WAS a prima donna, he wasn't the one making Torre's life hell. The Steinbrenners were. It's a weak showing to jump on the ARod hater wagon just because Torre knows he's only feeding an existing sports page go-to sidebar.

4.) Is this all just a brilliant marketing strategy? There isn't a single fanbase that isn't interested in this now. Another book documenting the Evil Empire would have garnered nothing more than a collective groan from the sportsfan readership. Now? Haters are chomping at the bit to finally possess hardened, documented, from-the-horses-mouth proof that ARod sucks. Yankee fans are desperate to find out it's not true.

5.) No one's not interested in the book, but no one reveres him anymore either. Yankee fans adored him like he was our father, and even the most diehard Yankee haters had to concede, "Ok, yeah, I like Torre. I admit, he's a class act." But now? His legacy and status is a shell of what it once was. He's now just another jilted celebrity who forfeits the high road to expose the sacred secrets of the inside.

No matter who you are, no matter what happened, avenging it is poor form. You take a detour off the high road, and you're no longer in the HOV lane. I remember I watched "Baby Boom" with my dad when I was about 11. At the end of the movie, when Diane Keaton's old company makes an offer for her self-made baby food enterprise, after royally screwing her over, she turns it down. And I remember thinking, "Pshh, how could she turn down all the cash?! How much is revenge worth??" And then when I started working in advertising, I changed my tune to, "Hmm, if I were her, I'd sell my product to my old company's biggest competitor, just to screw them over." 

Then after working in advertising for a few years, I decided that we're too old to base career moves on malicious vendettas. 

No one's gonna forgive Torre for this. No matter how it turns out. We've been defending our team from jealous haters, condescending asswipes, and obsessive cynics for years. We get it from all sides. But until now, never the inside. 

You're persona non grata in the Bronx now, buddy. But it's your own fault. You forget one of the city's holiest tenets, "Never take sides with anyone against the family, ever." 

The Arizona Cardinals are poised to make history should they win Super Bowl XLIII. As the team with the worst regular season to ever win the NFL title, surpassing last year's Giants (10-6) and the 1988-89 49ers. 

I'm predicting the Jets go 8-8 next year and raise [sic] the bar. 

I love the fact the Cardinals are going to Tampa (I mean, I'd rather it be Big Blue, but seriously is there any fan outside of Pittsburgh NOT rooting for Arizona?) I love the fact the Patriots laid into them Week 17 and showed em who's boss. And I love the fact the desert boys cannot even be compared to the Poster Children for Gritty Underdogs. I love the fact they're threatening to throw a monkey wrench in the "defense prevails in playoffs" contention. And I love the fact they don't play the tortured ring-drought card. If they win on February 1, who's next in line to the Cubs for this dubious category? Is Chicago right now acting like Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind of Wonderful, all pissed off at Arizona for trying to escape their Loser Tier for bigger, better and glitzier things, the Lea Thompson/Super Bowl status?

In terms of their opposition, the Steelers aren't doing anything for their terrifying brutality rep when the Invincible Man is leaving the field on a stretcher, unmoving. Not to sound heartless, but I have a feeling I will anyway, a little part of me felt bad for Steelers fan at the game. Their team just won the AFC title, but knowing how critical people are of, well, everything, there is no doubt in mind that the Terrible Towel-ers had to face their fair share of "I can't believe you can be cheering like this when your player almost killed a man." Or even worse, "Yeah, well enjoy the win of default. Our star RB only needed another 50 seconds to bury you, the only reason you won was because you took him out." 

Two great games though. Yesterday also reinforced the notion that sports fans should be nice to people on their way up...because you'll see them on your way down.

..Cough... EAGLES....cough...

I need to change the settings on my phone to not alert me of new mail anytime after 1am, because the lack of heat in my apartment makes it hard enough to log in a healthy number of sleep hours, without have a high-pitched beep screaming on my end table whenever I get so much as junkmail from 1-800-CONTACTS. 

The point of this being is that last night I get an email notice circa 2:45am about a new segment of, targeting women in sports. Middle-of-the-night rude awakening notwithstanding, the notice of this new group triggered a nerve--an issue that has long made me huff and puff in aggravation, and consequently riles Susie Feminist's pink feathers in indignant protest.

Remember Sports Illustrated for Women? Yeah, neither do I. That's because I have gummy bears that have lasted longer than this defunct periodical. The problem with this type of desperate niche is that it overlooks a significant insight. Women don't like sports. HOWEVER, those that do, like SPORTS. They don't want need to have sports tailored to their sex. 

This book "Differentiate or Die" by advertising genius Jack Trout talks about why this type of marketing to seeming untapped niches isn't necessarily the brightest move:

"Successful firsts aren't tricky. They tend to be good ideas. Conversely, unsuccessful firsts tend to be bad ideas. R.J. Reynolds spent a fortune on the first smokeless cigarette. This is the antithesis of common sense. Their theory was that smokeless cigarettes would appeal to nonsmokers. Unfortunately, nonsmokers don't buy cigarettes. Something like $325 million went up in smoke (or nonsmoke) with the dismal launch of Premier cigarettes... Premier may have been a first, but it was just plain stupid."

If you smoke or like sports, you don't want a skewed version of either. I will take a man reporter over a female one 10 out of 10 times. Not because I'm sexist, but because they're better at it. And not because they're guys and necessarily know more. In fact, plenty of times the women's encylopedic sports knowledge edges out those of men. But I don't need or want to hear every fact ever about a running back. I just want pithy, conversational, uneffected analysis. The reason I never get this from women is because their reports indicate they don't identify as a sports caster. They categorize themselves as WOMEN sports casters. 

The glaring difference between them is that men have nothing to prove. That makes them sometimes sloppy but ultimately likeable. Women do have something to prove. And that makes them ultimately successful and often unentertaining. It's like watching a boardroom scene in The Apprentice or something. 

After being absent from the scene for so long, women deliver their commentaries with noble ambition and meticulous accuracy. Kudos, ladies. But no matter how much you know, no matter how hard you try to dodge the stigma, it still comes across to me as impersonal and trying too hard. Both of which are understandable, but not something I care to mix with the effortless leisure of watching the game.

No matter how ridiculous Boomer sounds, no matter how many melodramatic Gus Johnson seems, and no matter how vacuous John Sterling is, I still prefer their grounded, honest, and seemless game coverages. I want to hear Sterling's bubbly and often substanceless celebration of a grounder to short that he describes as "nearing the warning track," than I want to hear Suzyn Waldman's rattling laundry list of every radar gun count of every pitch thrown since the turn of the century. 

I'm frankly sick of hearing girls start any fantasy league story with "I'm the only girl in the league." WHO CARES? If you like the sport, then what difference does it make? Constantly bringing your gender to everyone's attention proves your love of the game is punctuated by your love of the fact you're a girl who loves the game. 

If women want to be considered as equals in the sports industry, then why do they perpetually imbue their work with reminders of their sex? If they want to be seen as a professional journalist and treated like one, then what difference does it make that you're a super brave independent girl tackling the intimidating world of Monday Night Football?

Women should take their cue from Terry Griffith, the underrated 80s B-list movie character who chopped off her locks and de-feminized herself so she could be taken seriously as a writer. Not exactly follow it to letter, but write for the sake of writing, not for the sake of qualifying that with your gender. It baffles me in sports journalism the same way it confounded me during the election. 

Can we put this question to bed? Was the election about race or not? Because all I'd hear during the campaign was how it wasn't black vs white. It was about the candidates stances on the issues. Until Obama was elected, an outcome that was as predictable as the presence of a sheltered conservative pitted up against a gay minority in any given season of The Real World. On November 4, facebook all but exploded with the rampant status updating, notifying me that essentially everyone I know was crying with joy over the happiest day of their lives, the day America restored faith in its citizens by electing a black man to president. 

Except...I thought it wasn't about race. Why is it a big deal that he's black? Why not be excited because you're glad his policies were victorious? And why is a big deal if you're a chick who likes sports? Why not just be a sports fan, rather than perpetuating a stifling prejudice by qualifying your success by the fact you're a girl? 

I'm not saying it's an industry that should be exclusive to men. But I'll opt for the bumbling male every single time for the same reason I didn't like Lost in Translation, Vanilla Sky, or Taxi Driver. I don't care how impressive the cinematography is or how sophisticated the script is or how challenging the production was. When it comes to entertainment, I'm not deep enough for subtext. Give me Vince Vaughn playing video games over Scarlett Johanson transcending existential barriers. Any day.

Yesterday I learned possibly the most offensively head-spinning tidbit regarding any professional sport ever:

The NFL playoffs this year are unassailably lackluster, mediocre, unentertaining, and flat. The reason for this can be traced back to Week 1 when Tom Brady got knocked out for the season. Losing the best QB of all time effectively diluted the talent of the entire NFL because without his caliber of play, other teams were not as driven and motivated to play at 100% at all times. Every team was gunning for the hated New England Patriots and this made everyone play better. Without Brady in the mix to bring everyone up to this level of competitiveness, all teams were not at their best. As a result, the playoffs admitted "average" teams like the NY Giants and Arizona Cardinals. Had Brady played, other teams would have played better, had better records, and prevented such uninteresting teams from their respective playoffs berths. 

I just tried to write that in the most objective, logical way possible and it still had a two-fold effect of making me throw up in my mouth a little, as well as pollute the surrounding vicinity with it's inanity. 

The Patriots went 11-5. They didn't go 0-16. They still played well. Contrary to popular [sic] belief, the world does not revolve around Tom Brady. Nor did Bernard Pollard have the biggest impact on the NFL this year (another similar contention). Not everything needs to be traced back to a deeper subtext. Some things can be explained in simpler terms, like a slumping defense or a bad call or an ill-timed interception or a brilliant offensive coordinator. 

Maybe it's easier to look further into things to rationalize your team's failure, but often it's really as simple as other teams were better than your team. 

Such was the text message I sent to my sister midway into the 4th quarter. I don't know what's going to be lucky or not, I had to try everything. Like a good sister who had absolutely no idea what I was talking about but knew it probabably related in some way to something negative in the game, she responded, "Ugh, me too." 

As far as season-ending defeats go, this one was like the equivalent of watching a scene from Hostel. It makes your skin crawl, it's nauseating, and it somehow highlights each minute detail that disgusts you the most. And you think after watching it you'll have nightmares. You cringe in the moments after the scene, recalling the gory details. But then it's over. And you forget what happened in the last scene, and are thankful that it somehow didn't have any discernible longer-term impact. 

My poor sisters once again trekked into the city to spend QT with their older sibling, only to find themselves intermittenly left alone with a table of my maniacal football buddies, while I darted from corner of the bar to outside to the bathroom to even my apartment, in a desperate game of Mastermind. I'd disappear for an hour only to return with 6 different hats that I'd then frantically interchange to find one that proved lucky. (Which none did obviously, so I ended up just looking like one of the confused freaks on a Nickelodeon game show who are very competitively embroiled and extremely intense about something inordinately ridiculous.)

In the end, I had my face in my hands, concealing a set of eyes that may or may not have shed a tear or two. I acted like an 8-year old who was the first one out on musical chairs at a birthday party and pouted aggressively about wanting to go home right. now. My sisters complied, and even better, they ran static on my neighbor who was innocuously trying to give me "it's just a game" slash "put it in perspective" speeches. 

You can tell a lot about what people think of you based on what they suggest doing when you're at your low point. For instance, if a guy dumps a girl, the girl's friends will console her by saying, "You wanna go shoe shopping? Would that make you feel better?" 

Amanda asked me, "Do you wanna play Zelda? How bout we do that?"
Lauren asked me, "I know what we could do! Let's get into a fight with a fake sports fan girl!"

They always know just what to say. 

I was pretty down after I left. Even Zelda and terrorizing vapid Philly chicks couldn't yank me outta my funk. I was really miserable, and unlike most things people normally get upset about, there was absolutely nothing I could do about this. I couldn't un-lose the game. I couldn't avoid ESPN and sports bars. 

Then one of my buddies called, and I swear he sounded so upbeat I thought for a second that maybe the Giants had made some miraculous comeback in the last 3 minutes or something. 

"Hey, where'd you go! You left the bar, come back, we're still all here!"

"I want to die. Go away."

"Listen, KP. You can't be like this. Nothing will take away February 3, 2008. That still happened. It didn't happen this year, and it sucks, but we already got the greatest Super Bowl win in history."


And it was nice. It was a little sad watching the Steelers game, just because I was jealous of the Rothlesberger-jersey-wearing contingent who still got to cheer for their team. But I'll live. I didn't have to deal with any Eagles fans. Just one, but girls are always easier to manage. The biggest roadblock to recovering from the inimitable end-of-season misery was the palpable joy not from Philly fans, but from every New England fan I know. All of them. 

Thanks, guys. PS...

"The envi0us man thinks that if a neighbor breaks his leg, he will be able to walk better himself." --Helmut Schoek

and for the hell of it:

"What cowardice it is to be dismayed by the happiness of others and devastated by their good fortune." --Montesquieu

"No nation was ever ruined by trade, even seemingly the most disadvantageous." -Benjamin Franklin

The New York Yankees showcased their latest holiday impulse buy yesterday when they introduced 1B Mark Teixiera to their $223 million toy chest. Coming on the heels on the A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia purchases, the Yankees are undoubtedly making an unabashed statement to the rest of Major League Baseball. But in the context of the ever-disintegrating economy, their off-season spending binge does not connote aggressive World Series campaigning so much as it invokes the contempt and ire of fiscal-conscious Americans.

The Yankees have ruined baseball. They buy their team. They're greedy minions of Lucifer and shameless Bob Crachets squashing the smaller market Tiny Tims under the heels of their cleats. They're flagrantly destroying the National Pasttime one cool million at a time. 

They're also just playing by the rules. 

The phrase "salary cap" has been whined and screeched so many times in the past month that I have no doubt a generation of December-born children will have it listed as their first words in their baby books. This right here is why I continue to be utterly baffled by the outlandish backlash towards the Bronx Bombers. 

There's no salary cap. And until there is, the Yankees can max out their corporate card every day of the week and twice on Sunday. They have the money, they fill their seats every year, they sell hot dogs at $8 a pop, they cater to consumer idiots like myself who need their team logo on everything from a ski cap to a stapler. And it pays off. 

Whether or not these blockbuster acquistions will indeed lead the Yanks to the playoffs is a moot point. What IS relevant is that if the Yankees wanted to spend their multimillions in revenues on foam cowboy hats, beer, and pinwheels, then go live the dream. 

Unfortunately for them, their legal, rule-abiding, and sound investments have exposed them as the Anti-Christ. Less affluent teams are crying it's not fair, their fans spitting vitriol at the vile Evil Empire for--God forbid--subscribing to capitalist tenets of amassing personal wealth. They can hate on New York for a lot of things, but this ain't one of them, because the New York Yankees are under no obligation whatsoever to pander to poorer teams.

Major League Baseball is a business. It's not Little League. It's not pick-up ball in Central Park. It's a corporate empire that millions of people enthusiastically endorse because we love the game. And it's naive to bemoan the way our pasttime's been marred by greed, because it is impossible to put a cap on competitive spirit. It's the impetus driving the game itself, and it's the impetus fueling the economic market. 

It's ironic that so many use the financial crisis as the linchpin of their criticisms. If you want baseball to be the innocent institution seen through rose-colored glasses, then why tether the Yankees to the faltering economy? Last I checked, even their worst investments (read: Pavano) weren't leaving millions jobless. What the Yankees decide to blow their cash does not exacerbate the damage done by Wall Street. And just because we're bitter about penny-pinching doesn't mean it's the Yankees' place to tread lightly around our sensitivities by not rubbing their fortune in our face.

Consider this business model: Say I own my advertising agency and am looking for the #1 creative copywriter in the industry. A good one is unquestionably worth his weight in gold, as a talented writer is at the heart of any successful marketing campaign. So I bring in the best for an interview, and he wants half a million dollars. Maybe I think, "Ehhh, kinda steep, but what this guy can bring to the table is worth that and then some. Sold." Or maybe I think he's sniffing glue, and there's no way a single employee is that indispensable, so I just wish him well in whatever other opportunities he pursues. Or maybe it's moot, since I simply don't have that kind of money.

Said writer can take the job and let the chips fall where they may or insist he's worth that much and pitch himself to another agency. And maybe every other agency tells him he's a few crayons short of a box if he thinks he's gonna get that kind of salary in this economy. And at that point, he can resign to accept a lower rate. But if there's one agency who's willing to meet his demands, then more power to them. He could be a dud, or he could be a star. Maybe I'd kick myself for not hiring him, or maybe I'd wish I had had the resources to take him on. But I can't curse the company that brought him on board. The only thing I can do is work with the pool of applicants I have and hope their success generates enough income to someday be in a position to afford this caliber of talent, if I even want or need it by then.

So people can fault the Yankees for their decision making. Is it, in fact, wise to continue acquiring "trendy" athletes? Should they throw their efforts into cultivating a farm system? Perhaps. But that's not the criticism shaping the seething response to the off-season spending. 

Are they really "bad for baseball" as haters everywhere continue to purport? In an economic sense, their extravagance most likely pays itself off throughout the rest of the league. For teams that couldn't fill their stands if they were equipped with free porn and strip steaks, the Yankees are invaluable--they sell out 81 road games. Read that sentence again. If you're a shareholder in the Kansas City Royals, you're counting down til the Yankee Series like it's the 15th of the month.

And as one of only two teams that pay a luxury tax, the Yankees have paid handsome dividends to the league. This doesn't even speak to the revenues from Yankee-Hater product sales, from the legions of articles and books that have been disseminated outlining the pervasive iniquity and corruption found in pinstripes. The legions of part-time sports fans that only root against the Yankees, and never for a team, prove that there's no such thing as bad press.

Are the Yankees "bad for baseball" in a more tangible sense? Are they monopolizing the talent and making it virtually impossible for any other franchise to see even a fraction of the success the Yankees have? Ask Tampa Bay. Or the Red Sox. Or any other team that has managed to SOMEHOW "beat the odds" and have a winning, successful season despite the Yankees' best efforts to acquire every player in the league. Philadelphia may have some dissenting opinions on this matter, as well. 

For the media and haters to condemn the Yankees for spending is nothing new. If not for the economic collapse, this would be "Yankees being Yankees." But because of it's timing, the Yankees have been made not only scapegoats for small market teams' holes, but also the enemy of a communist society. Why should MLB "spread the wealth"? Where is my incentive to advance on the corporate ladder and someday make a $250,000 a year, if I know that the second I reach this mark, half of my paycheck is going to be used to spread the wealth? 

The dire straits of America's economy may be critical, but they're not the Yankees' problem. Nor any other team. Because of Wall Street's insatiable greed, I have to pay 18% tax on non-diet soda. Because fat people can't join a gym, I have to pay extra to help the economy and minimize the country's obesity risks. Now the sports-viewing world is saying that because of the financial collapse, the Yankees have to put the brakes on their spending because not everyone is as well off as them. Karl Marx would be so proud. 

If MLB wants to enact a salary cap, then let them. But if they're going to continue to hang from the Yankees' flush coattails, then the rest of the sports contingent should recognize the Yankees are doing nothing more than honoring their constitutional right to prosper.  

New York, NY—After a surprising turn of events in Week 17, the New England Patriots- preseason favorites to reach the Super Bowl at 2-1 odds-are finding themselves with an unexpected surplus of free time on their hands. To minimize post-traumatic shock, the Pats have sought counsel from the New York Yankees, who missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. 

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick led his team to an 11-5 record, despite the crushing loss of their star QB, but were ultimately knocked out of playoff contention when the Miami Dolphins defeated the New York Jets to give Miami the division title.

“I think the plays are made on the field, and that’s all you can do. We had a good year, and we did what we could. It all falls under the umbrella of hard work and dedication.” Belichick said in an emotional [sic] press conference.

Belichick then confirmed that New England’s head offices had contacted the New York Yankees to schedule a consultation. “The New York Yankees are a great franchise. I greatly respect their level of play and hard work. We feel their recent experience in being excluded from their playoff birthright is similar to what we’re going through now, and we’re hoping to schedule a consultation as soon as possible.”

The Yankees, considered by most to be the most successful franchise in all of sports, were unavailable for comment yesterday, as they were holding press conferences to introduce their latest blockbuster acquistion, 1B Mark Teixiera. A spokesman for the Yankees said earlier last week that the team "is certainly interested in meeting with Belichick. He's an accomplished coach, and we're hoping that we can offer some valuable guidance during this difficult time."

Topics on the agenda that are scheduled to be covered during the conference include:

  • How to get around the NFL salary cap
  • Deflecting blame onto factors out of the team's control
  • Rationalizing the loss and trivializing teams currently in title contention
  • Overpromoting other city teams, such as the NBA's Celtics and NHL's Bruins, to deflect attention
  • Blacking out playoff coverage on local television networks

Belichick indicated he was preparing for the meeting by leveraging the Indianapolis Colts' early playoff loss. "The league's MVP was knocked out by an 8-8 team, and my 11-5 team was denied adminission to the post-season. I think we can all agree this belies the validity of the current playoff system."

I'm starting to think that Bill Simmons is my Mr. Henshaw. All I ever do is write him hate mail, and he never responds. He also never takes me advice to stop sucking, to heart.

Lately, whenever his team bombs, I no longer can look forward to the postmortum. Because he just blows right by it. I want long, drawn out missives on his tumble towards devastation. He didn't fail to disappoint after Super Bowl XLII. But since then...nothing. The Celtics lose to the Lakers--he prints a mailbag. The Pats miss the playoffs, he disappears for a week. The Yanks get every ball player in the Major Leagues, he covers pro wrestling. WTF. If I have to suffer through a whole season of his manic irrationality, then I should be rewarded with a concession of defeat. 

I'm not sure how I'll react after he inevitably appoints himself President of the World of Bruins Diehards. But I do know the backlash will be brutal, unforgiving, and have tortuous implications that bring to mind Saw cinematography. 

"It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. 

"What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. 

"Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift."
 --Roger Angell

The first two seconds of this pretty much sum up how I feel at the onset of the NFL playoffs.

I couldn't watch the Panthers-Giants game a few weeks ago, not so much because I was too nervous, although that normally would be the primary obstacle to actually seeing the game. But because it was discovered to be lucky to stay in the bar bathroom. Who am I to argue with the stars? 

So on my first day back at the office after a 5-day weekend, the biggest source of stress was not coming from the 3-foot tall stack of work on my desk. But rather, it was bred from trying to determine which permutation of superstitions would be most effective come this Sunday's Giants-Eagles match-up.

The LT jersey: 1-0. lost to the Vikings, but the study sample was contaminated with 2nd string players.

The Plax jersey: 10-2. I retired it after the Eagles loss. 

Bathroom locale: 1-0

Home vs Bar: 0-2 at home; 12-2 at bar

But I also am trying to remember everything I did and wore on December 7, 2008. Watched first half at home, left after Giants D ran in a TD before the half. Plax jersey. Watched with neighbor...

Oooh that might be tough. I'm slated to watch game with him, how do you tell someone he's persona non grata because you're persona non sanus? 

Watched second half at bar. Sat at right corner of the bar. 

This is ridiculous. I'm sitting in the bathroom, I don't have time to eff around with combinations like I'm taking pre-prom pictures. 

It does to call to mind an interesting question though: What if your team only won if you didn't watch the game? What if you spent 18 games sitting in a bar bathroom, and your team went you watch the Super Bowl and risk the guilt you'd feel if your team lost? Or do you stay immoveable in the bathroom and risk the regret you'd feel if you didn't see a single play? 

Me, I'd be kicking it with the bowl that was not of the Super persuasion. 

My New Year's resolution is to win the World Series.

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