- The Washington Times - Friday, November 6, 2009

Years ago, the saying about Yankees fans was that rooting for the New York Yankees was like rooting for U.S. Steel.

Let’s modernize it a bit: Rooting for the 2009 World Series champion New York Yankees is like rooting for AIG.

The Yankees are the perfect symbol for the times - bloated excess.

While the federal government was bailing out AIG, the Yankees were charging thousands of dollars for the best tickets in a new $1.6 billion ballpark paid for in part with public funding and tax breaks.

There is some symmetry to that - the Yankees have spent about $1.6 billion since they last won a World Series in 2000.

So by all means, throw a ticker-tape parade for them Friday to celebrate their World Series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. The parade will take place in the so-called Canyon of Heroes in lower Manhattan, not far from Wall Street. Maybe they could shower the triumphant Yankees with bailout money.

Will admitted performance-enhancing drug users A-Rod and Andy Pettitte ride in performance-enhanced vehicles? A little STP in the tank in honor of the heroes?

Heroes, indeed.

The lineup of the banks receiving AIG payouts - Societe Generale, $ 11 billion; Deutsche Bank, $5.4 billion; Goldman Sachs, $8.1 billion - reads sort of like a Yankees lineup card.

Alex Rodriguez, $33 million. Derek Jeter, $21.6 million. Mark Teixeira, $20.6 million.

The Bailout Bombers.

This is not a diatribe about how unfair it is that the Yankees spend nearly twice as much as any other team in baseball. There is no salary cap in baseball, and the Yankees have the revenue - more than ever now, thanks to the new ballpark.

They are who they are.

Here’s what I don’t understand: Unless you are a family member of a Yankees player - or, OK, from the Bronx - why in the world would you root for this club?

You know what the Yankees players were feeling as they celebrated on the field after clinching the series - not joy, but relief.

Wednesday was the only day of the year a Yankees fan truly can enjoy - a game that clinches a World Series victory. And that enjoyment is only relief. Big expectations come with big spending, and when you’re spending more than $200 million a year on the roster, anything less than a world championship is a failure.

That’s like rooting for a bully. Is there really any joy in that?

Joe Buck tried his best to frame the championship around the nobility of the so-called “core four” - Jeter, Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, the four players who came up through the organization and, with the exception of Pettitte, have played their entire careers for the Yankees.

What a heartwarming story - the core four exists solely because George Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball from baseball from 1990 to 1993, giving Gene Michael and the Yankees front office a chance to develop and keep the sort of young players the Boss previously would have traded away.

If the beloved Boss, who paid a grifter named Howie Spira $40,000 to find some dirt on Dave Winfield after the Yankees outfielder sued him for failing to pay his foundation the $300,000 guaranteed in his contract, had never been suspended, it’s unlikely all or any of the core four would be in a Yankees uniform.

So by all means, let’s hear the dedications at the ceremony to the great Steinbrenner, who made his greatest contribution to this team by staying away.

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