Roger Angell’s “The Summer Game,” which is a gorgeously even-handed account of baseball’s subtle evolutions in the 1960s (and which I have been trying somewhat unsuccessfully to listen to in audio book format for a few weeks) contains one brief summary of Yankees fandom that is well worth revisiting after Saturday night’s embarrassing World Series loss to the Florida Marlins.Angell, while watching a Mets game in 1962, overhears the derisive commentary of someone seated nearby, who summarily dismisses the whole lot of the Mets’ best players as barely worthy of a Yankee farm team.
“I recognized the tone. It was knowing, cold. Full of the contempt that the calculator feels for those who don’t play the odds. It was the voice of the Yankee fan.
“The Yankees have won the American league pennant twenty times in the last thirty years. They have been the world champions sixteen times in that period. Over the years many of their followers have come to watch them with the stolidity, the smugness and the arrogance of holders of large blocks of blue chip stocks.
“These fans expect no less than perfection. They coolly accept the late-inning rally, the winning homer, as only their due. They are apt to take defeat with ill grace and they treat their stars as though they were executives hired to protect their interests. During a slump or a losing streak, these capitalists are quick and shrill with their complaints. ‘They ought to damn well do better than this, considering what they’re getting paid.’“
Interesting. For a Marlin’s fan it was like, “Wow! Can you believe that? What are the chances, they can’t be too good.” I mean the Yankee’s payroll was almost three times that of the Marlins.
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