There is a Dutch phrase that should by now have made its way into English, or at least into baseball, where it would do a lot to make sense of the painful end to the Yankees’ year. Plaatsvervangende schaamte means “place-exchanging shame,” the mortification you feel on behalf of someone oblivious to what they’ve done wrong. If the fans felt it on behalf of their team as they slowly died against the Detroit Tigers, the team would be at least as right to feel it on behalf of the fans.
A baseball season is so long and complex that the only way to make sense of it is with stories, and the agreed-upon story of this year’s Yankees is that they were failures who managed not just to lose when they should have won, but did so in the most embarrassing way possible. They are down as a dead team, whose decades-long reign is at long last over.
But there’s another way to tell this story. Everyone seems to have agreed to forget this, but this year’s Yankees were supposed to be a bit too old, slow and tied to an outmoded style to win a championship. Running their lowest payroll in years and with a pitching staff patched together from chop shop parts, the conventional wisdom was they were a minor contender. At the start of the year, ESPN polled 50 “experts,” and just three had New York winning the World Series.
...They would never say it, because they can’t, but this isn’t the story of a failure. We saw that in Boston, which had its worst season since the 1960s, and in Texas, where the Rangers pulled one of the great swan dives in baseball history over the last week. The Yankees had a season that, except for the reputations involved, had a lot more in common with Baltimore’s, or Oakland’s: They made it far, they came up short, they left some great memories. If there’s any shame in that, it doesn’t belong to the players.
Posted: October 22, 2012 at 09:32 AM | 28 comment(s)
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