- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

Can't the Yankees just play a simple World Series without some kind of melodrama behind it?
Remember 1996? That was the win-one-for-Joe-Torre's-brother-Frank, who was lying in bed waiting for a heart transplant.
Then there was the win-it-for-Darryl series of 1998, when teammate Darryl Strawberry had been diagnosed with colon cancer.
The Joe Torre cancer and the Mel Stottlemyre cancer the following year, and the Subway Series against the New York Mets last year it's never just a World Series for the Yankees.
This year, though, the Yankees sentiment is off the charts, obviously because of the tragedy that took place in New York on Sept. 11. There have been many heartfelt sentiments of support for the city since the World Trade Center attack, and the Yankees in particular have been the beneficiaries of that. Rightly so, since they are perceived as an important symbol of the city, and, for some of its residents, represent their hopes and dreams.
But where does that leave the poor Arizona Diamondbacks? What did they do to deserve the black hats?
Let's face it, the World Series will be the United States of America against Phoenix, Ariz., and its surrounding areas and any other pockets of support that might exist for the Diamondbacks.
Heck, they might not even be the favorite team in Phoenix, where they had trouble selling out playoff games. There are probably some people there who don't even know they have a major league baseball team. After all, the Diamondbacks have only been around for four seasons.
Even without the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11 attack, one would be hard-pressed to find much sentiment against the Yankees and for the Diamondbacks. This is a series of tradition versus trend, old versus new. The Yankees play in Yankee Stadium, where they have monuments in the outfield to such immortals as Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. It is the House that Ruth Built. It was one of the most revered field of sports in America.
The Diamondbacks play in Bank One Ballpark, with a retractable roof and a swimming pool beyond the outfield. It's the House that Certificates of Deposit built.
Then there is the makeup of this Yankee team itself. If you have been a Yankee hater over the years, these are tough times because there is not much to hate about this team. It plays with heart, skill and determination, and does so without the arrogance of Yankees team in the past. There is little about this team that resembles the Bronx Zoo of the 1970s, or even the cold, calculating teams of the 1950s.
The Yankees have gone from rooting for U.S. Steel to rooting for the U.S.
So if rooting for the Yankees has become tantamount to a patriotic act, what does that mean for the Diamondbacks? A chance to be the biggest spoilsports in World Series history.
Arizona manager Bob Brenly welcomed the challenge. He said they wanted to play the Yankees. He likes a good story as well as the next guy, and, let's face it, a Seattle-Arizona series would have been World Series lite, no matter how many games the Mariners won this year.
"Nationally, it certainly makes for a great story with everything the city of New York and the people of New York have gone through over the past six weeks," Brenly said. "Of course, the storybook ending is that they win the World Series, but hopefully we can do something to prevent that from happening."
Think about that for a second the Yankees losing the World Series. They would have been better off not making it at all than failing to fulfill what some have concluded is their destiny winning their fourth straight World Series.
The Diamondbacks deserve better than to be cast as the villains in all this. Curt Schilling is as good a guy as you'll find in baseball, and he felt compelled to take out a full-page newspaper ad after the attack to thank the police and firefighters for their sacrifice. Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley these are all good guys. (If you're an Orioles fan, you must really hate this series, with two-thirds of the worst trade in franchise history Schilling and Finley playing in it more than 12 years after they, along with Pete Harnisch, were traded to Houston for Glenn Davis.)
All this New York love may be a little bit difficult to take for people who have lived their whole lives hating the city or at least their idea of what New York was and particularly for those Yankee haters. Nearly everyone around them will be swept up in Yankees euphoria. If they manage to maintain their dislike, they will likely have to do so quietly. Otherwise, their countrymen may have something to say about it.


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