Monday, September 29, 2008

LET’S GO METS?!! : Opening Notes on the Corruption of the New York Yankees

“It’s not that I don’t like Babe Ruth, I just don’t think he was the best of his time. Satchel Paige was striking people out from his wheel chair at age 63! And he was tenth best. There were nine Negro players better than him! It’s almost like saying - I won the New York City Marathon this year - but no Kenyans ran! It’s not a sport until brothers show up - it’s just a game.”
Chris Rock, Actor/Comedian

Sports are no longer competition of the greatest select athletes inspired to reach their best performance inspiring the masses as they entertain. In the history of the United States of America, it has never truly been such.

From the beginnings of American sport, one can begin with Christopher Columbus and his devils racing dogs with the prize being hunted Taino Indians. When one acknowledges the false declarations made in honor of their mysterious God (“I certify to you that, in the name of God…”) and the ensuing proclamations of what will be done (“we shall take you, and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them” –Christopher Columbus, it is all reminiscent of that dominating team we are programmed to take sides with and root for.

A perennial team that dominates, ultimately solidifying mundane connections to their powerful status as Americans. A team that is officially crowned “champion” of complete, fair and intense competition yet harkens the same hypocrisy of corruption, cheating and monopolistic practices of the country at large. A team whose name once associated itself with its land mass as with the land of the free (reign of savages) yet then chose the ideal to remind us of whom it shall oppress. As in the “the land of the brave”—the brave, those beautiful warriors lumpen as the oppressed Native American, we knew what the team was, what it is and what it always will be.

It bears significant mention that the late 18th – early 19th century motif of Martin Scorcese’s Gangs of New York serves as a diluted (i.e. the completely vacant presence of our Black people, the missing filth of sewers running through the middle of the streets, massive lack of basic hygiene on citizens and massive corruption of emerging public services and political organization), yet relevant reference point to understand. As this era of early New York City, it had white ethnic groups (Irish, Italian, etc.) fighting for respectability, economic fortitude and survival, itself. One of the key components in this struggle was Tammany Hall. Tammany Hall was the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in controlling New York City politics and helping immigrants (most notably the Irish) rise up in American politics from the 1790s to the 1960s. Put lightly, they controlled most Democratic Party nominations extending their brand of patronage in Manhattan for about 80 years. (

William S. Devery was the first police chief of the New York City Police Department in 1898. The pioneering corrupt swine was an internal force in Tammany Hall organization. According to his great grand nephew Bill Cleary, “no dirty deal could be made without his scrutiny. As Chief of Police in the late 19th Century, "Big Bill" was an established part of the Irish syndicate that controlled the police force and by extension...every aspect of city government.” With a motto of “Hear, say and do nothing. Eat, drink and pay nothing,” he and Frank Farrell, another Tammany Hall insider, finagled through the equally corrupt organized baseball league and bought a small Baltimore Orioles club in 1903. Able to find a location for them they were first known as the Highlanders as their location in the high altitude, dump site area of Manhattan between 165th and 168th Streets, Hilltop Park. Devery would extend patronage with the cleanup jobs (i.e. excavating rocks, flattening the field) and development of the stadium. A trend that continues to this day with the opening of the new Yankee Stadium.

The ultimate early theft is in the NY logo, with overlapping N and Y, that was put into use in 1909. The original NY was made by Louis B. Tiffany in 1877, whom designed it for the NYC Police Department’s medal of valor, honoring policemen killed in the line of duty. Awarded to the family and kin of the deceased, it was to honor their memory. Though the reality of the NYPD is essentially oppressive, with Devery's corruption more a highlight than aberration, the travesty is in their disrespect of their very own quest in conquest. As Devery stole the symbol, without recourse fiscally or otherwise, it would signal the norm in the Yankee organization through their history. Mirroring this was the eventual name change as they moved from Hilltop Park. Now they would be known as the Yankees.

A properly earned derogatory term that the legendary folk singer/revolutionary Victor Jara sang to note the wielders of imperialist oppression on the entire Americas, making legion with the Cuban followers, those anti-Castro gusanos, and rob half of Mexico, the now-mythically named, yet geographically actual and spiritually relevant, Aztlan Nation. The nature of America is embodied in the Yankee, the imperialist power, whom ignorant and/or careless of the cultures and peoples toppled, have only sought accumulation of resource by any means. Much of it was done in the tightly knit groups of monopolistic enterprise. This was also the reality of organized baseball’s early days.

The league developed where the Yankees, The Boston Red Sox and The Chicago White Sox were the powerhouse clubs, penned fancifully as a détente during the 1920’s. In reality, they were an allowed oligarchy of talent, revenue and exposure. Eventually, the Babe Ruth curse would be more than just a lucky premonition of Yankee dominance. It spelled the first time a player was successfully capitalized as a larger than life figure. This strategy of idolatry still benefits sports capitalism and hurts the quality of sports from players seeking that lonely spotlight by any means (i.e. Barry Bonds' self destruction through inflated abnormalities of Herculian feat) to the current immense sublimation it offers the people.

Far too often, the legal nature of the corporation as an individual, the conquering dictum appropriated as truly the honorable American way and the enforcement of unquestioned traditions excuse the predatory realities of capitalism and its eventual cooption of the said product or service. Almost as if the human, grafted or otherwise in their heart, mind and body, has very little control once an ounce of greed becomes the stew of oppression. Today, we then wonder what pot are we supposed to even piss in as this is the only meal in town. It is here where we should wonder if the fast of all things will be most right and exact. The legacy of organized baseball, epitomized by the New York Yankees, is one of exploitation and in many respects, is just another avenue of plunder in the wilderness of North America’s badly United States. It continues through to today’s dead Yankee stadium and tomorrow’s next undead Yankee stadium. For now, these are the opening notes of dishonor and disgrace.


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