Tom Boswell has a thoughtful piece today on Hideki Matsui and why he represents everything that is both good and bad about the Yankees:
With his 415-foot blow, Matsui, who signed for $21 million for three years, showed why he is such an excellent symbol of everything that is best about the Yankees as exemplary players, but worst about a Yankees organization that can, to a greater degree than any team in any sport, consistently buy championships.
Like Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi, David Wells and Jose Contreras, Matsui is just the latest offseason prize for which the Yankees outbid every other team. So what if Contreras has been something of a bust? Matsui has more than made up for it. That's the real infuriating meaning, the true distortion, that the Yankees' $180 million payroll introduces to the sport. In other words, Matsui embodies the reason so many in baseball resent, and even hate, the Yankees while also admiring and coveting their marvelous players.
On the field, Matsui fits perfectly into the Yankees tradition of classic ballplayers. He looks ideal in any photo that includes Jeter, Bernie Williams, Giambi and Alfonso Soriano -- all of whom look like the exact physical prototypes one might create in a laboratory for their respective positions.
...For those who love the Yankees of George Steinbrenner, as well as those who despise them, Matsui showed again Sunday night why the Bronx is still the home of the most elegant, clutch collection of players that bottomless wealth can buy.
What I find upsetting about Yankee fans is the fact that they think the Yankees are actually entitled to win the championship every year. This is the culture that Steinbrenner promotes, I know, but for any self-respecting baseball fan to adopt it, is purely ridiculous. It's arrogance--"breath-taking arrogance," as my father likes to say---in its finest form.
The sad part about it is that these fans are missing the point. They don't "get" what Joe Torre and his players like Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera seem to grasp so convincingly: Winning is hard. What they've been able to accomplish since 1996 is incredibly rare and amazingly difficult. I get the sense that Joe Torre appreciates every post season game he manages with the Yankees. You'd think his humility would rub off on more Yankee fans.
At work today, I spoke with a guy who was upset that the Bombers lost Game One only because it will ruin their chances to sweep the Marlins. Oy veh. Sure the Yankees appear to be a better team than Florida, but again, so did the Giants and even the Cubs and look where that got them.
I don't know whether the Yankees will win the Serious or not, but I'm not shallow enough to suggest that just because they show up, the Marlins will stick their heads in the sand and give up.
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Oh, I have to apologize to my pal Peter Schilling for taking so long to provide a link, but for extensive, and articulate World Serious coverage, be sure and check out the guys over at Mudville Magazine. You'll be pleased you made the trip.