Topic: Sports & Entertainment Society

The New York Yankees
(April 2005)

No team has had more provocation to be bitter than the 2005 New York Yankees, who won their division in 2004, had the best record in the American league, and had every reason to expect yet another World Series appearance when they charged to a three games to none lead in their Championship Series with the Boston Red Sox. But as everybody who doesn’t live in a cave knows by now, the Red Sox became the first baseball team to overcome such a deficit, and went on to win the World Series while becoming legends, heroes, and media darlings everywhere in America but the Big Apple.

The off-season was filled with sniping and taunts by Boston fans and several players, who questioned the New York team’s character and ability to withstand the kind of adversity that has long been its Boston rival’s defining feature. The Bostonians especially relished the prospect of rubbing the Yankees’ noses in their unexpected defeat at the Red Sox 2005 home opener, when the New York club would be the opponents and therefore captive onlookers when the World Championship pennant was finally raised over Fenway Park. Predictably, several of the Yankees implied that they just might miss watching the ceremony due to pressing duties in the visitor’s clubhouse, such as, oh, washing their hair, maybe.

But the Yankee players surprised everyone. Most of them watched the elaborate pre-game ceremony from the top step of the dugout, periodically applauding their supposedly hated adversaries, as when the 86 year-old Johnny Pesky, a Red Sox icon, was awarded a Championship ring, one of 500 the Red Sox organization generously gave out to its expanded family.

The New York Yankees personified graciousness, sportsmanship, and respect for athletic achievement and character. By doing so, the Yankees were not disgraced or humiliated by their conquerors’ celebration. They were ennobled, as is fitting for the most fabled and successful team in American sports history. The Yankees, who have always known how to win better than anybody else, showed the world that they also know how to loseĀ…a far more elusive skill. In this era of trash-talking, hype, fan violence, over-paid players, steroids and cheating, the New York Yankees showed that sportsmanship can still thrive, and inspire.

Somewhere, the Yankee Clipper, the Iron Horse, and the Mick are smiling. Thank you, Bronx Bombers. We really needed that.

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