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I've argued this point too often to defend it again here; let me just state it : Men are conservative.  One result of this political bias is that, for the most part, sports coverage tends to be fairly conservative too.  Sure, sports writers and fans may moan about player salaries and big market teams, giving themselves a faint patina of egalitarianism, but as a general rule, don't begrudge them the money much, and, for all the lip service given to competitive balance, are never happier than when great teams come along.  Take Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls for example; you never heard a peep about the gazillion dollars that Michael made or about the fact that no one else had any shot at the title.  Those years, during which the NBA hit its all time peak in popularity, will be remembered for the dominance of not merely one team, but one player.

Likewise, in those years where the NFL is truly competitive and small market teams have a shot at the Super Bowl, no one watches the games.  The Rams vs. the Titans may have been a nice story, but no one followed it.  Meanwhile, on most other issues, fans and journalists are positively reactionary.  The trend towards old style ballparks, classic uniforms, and more traditional rules are all manifestations of a core belief that most sports were better forty years ago than they are today.

So it is a rather extraordinary thing when an author pens a sports book that can truly be described as politically radical.  The Yankees are to Dean Chadwin as the Soviet Union was to Ronald Reagan--the focus of evil in the modern world.  This book is a frequently funny, always splenetic, only sometimes ridiculous, tirade aimed at the racism, homophobia, exploitativeness, acquisitiveness, ignorance, intolerance, duplicity, and greed of George Steinbrenner, the fans, the athletes, baseball in general, and Rudy Guliani, and the other politicians who are so eager to spend public money to keep or lure professional franchises.

Personally, I grew up in Northern New Jersey, where there were only two kinds of people.  Those who rooted for the Yankees/Giants/Rangers/Knicks were the worst kind of front running filth, the kind of people who would have remained Loyalist during the American Revolution, or, were they French (and they nearly were) would have been Vichy rather than Resistance.  These people expected victory as something of a birthright, and weren't particular about how it was secured.  The rest of us, though we liked to see our teams win periodically (the Mets in '69, '73, '86 seemed to have an adequate pace), actually did not peg our loyalties to championships--we stuck by our squads even at their most hopeless (and perhaps only a lifelong Nets fan can truly even comprehend the meaning of the word "hopeless.").  Now I live in New England, root (as one must) for the Red Sox (though still a Met fan too) and have drunk deep at the well of Yankee hatred.   So I thoroughly enjoyed the sheer venom that Chadwin spews in this book.  It goes over the edge in certain places and some of his political beliefs are simply too absurd to be taken seriously, but he's right on the money about what a boondoggle all of this publicly funded stadium construction is, and the book is generally such a drastic change of pace from the glut of onanistic Yankee hagiographies we've been inundated with over the years that he deserves credit just for swimming against the hegemonic pinstriped tide.

It is necessary to loathe the Yankees.  And while it is not necessary to read this book in order to summon the appropriate loathing, it certainly helps.  The next time some Billy Crystal/Bob Costas type wells up when talking about how the best day of his childhood was that day at the Stadium when Mickey hit two, grab this book and turn to pretty much any page, it will surely help quell the nausea.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (C)

  

Websites:

See also:

Sports (Baseball)
Book-related and General Links:
    -EXCERPT : Chapter One of Those Damn Yankees
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW : Chadwin discusses his new book, Those Damn Yankees: The Secret Life of  America's Greatest Franchise, which details both the history and the current day status of this sports institution. The picture Chadwin paints is often far from flattering to owner, player and fan alike. (Radio Nation)
    -ESSAY : Free Darryl : Sportswriters have exploited Darryl Strawberry as a symbol of baseball's rebirth and as a harbinger of the game's imminent decline -- maybe it's time to leave the man alone. (Chris Smith, New York Magazine)
    -REVIEW : of Those Damn Yankees (Allen St. John, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Those Damn Yankees (Dan Albaugh , Collecting Exchange)
    -REVIEW : of Those Damn Yankees (Seminary Co-op)
    -REVIEW ESSAY : Was 1998 baseball's greatest season? : Two writers revel in extraordinary summer, while two others take exception (Mike Shannon, Cincinnati Enquirer)

GENERAL :
    -Village Voice : Sports
    -ARCHIVES : Baseball (Salon)
    -ARCHIVES : Yankees (Mag Portal)
    -ESSAY : The Socioeconomic Series (Joel Stein, TIME, November 2000)
    -ESSAY : The Out of Towner (Rick Reilly, Sports Illustrated, October 2000)

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