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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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The Christmas Spirit

Normally this is about the time I start settling into my long winter's baseball nap, kerchief and cap optional: The free-agent shuffling is about done, and it's a long hard slog to pitchers and catchers reporting, after which nothing whatsoever happens anyway. Best to rest up and get done whatever it is you get done when baseball isn't barging into the picture with streaks and slumps and victories that leave you up till 3 a.m. cackling with glee and defeats that leave you up till 3 a.m. brooding in despair. At least that's the advice I generally follow come Tundra Time.

But no, tonight I'm in midseason form. And the emotion I'm feeling is the final one in the sports trifecta, the other one that can leave you awake at 3 a.m. with your synapses blowing like popcorn.

It's hate. Coming in waves, over and over again.

What brought this on? It's that the New York Yankees signed Mark Teixeira to an eight-year, $180 million contract.

I'm a bit surprised I had that reaction too. I mean, it's not that I coveted Mark Teixeira for my team. (Though I did briefly imagine it once.) It's not that I particularly hungered for CC Sabathia, or A.J. Burnett. It's not that I'm dissatisfied with our own body of work: The Mets have done a very good job so far this winter, signing the marquee closer they desperately needed and adding a pretty fine setup guy without giving up much. Sure, there are still holes in the back of the rotation and at second, with question marks in left and catcher, but you can sense Omar out there being patient while Derek Lowe and Oliver Perez and Orlando Hudson squirm.

But what does patience matter when you know the Yankees might suddenly awaken and spend nearly a fifth of a billion dollars on a player nobody thought they had any interest in?

I mean, my God, did Hank and Hal find $90 million in nickels in Old Man Steinbrenner's couch and decide they were halfway home? Did they short the entire S&P 500 in August? Did Hank Paulson look at last year's final standings and decide the Yankees are too big to fail?

Who's to say they're done? With the Red Sox and the Angels acting like there's a recession on and the Cubs caught up in for-sale turmoil and the Dodgers trying to get their heads on straight and the Braves mad at agents and the Nats trying to get agents to return their calls, maybe the Yankees are the only game in town. Who's to stop them from deciding Lowe and Perez might be better at the back of the line than a dog's breakfast of gimpy kids from Scranton Wilkes-Barre? Why shouldn't they pay Manny a dump truck full of $100 bills to play left and ensure they own every back page from now until forever? It's what they're doing so far, isn't it?

I know the Mets aren't exactly baseball's Tom Joads — we're a huge-market team that's about to move into a state-of-the-art park and collect a megacontract worth of rights fees each and every year. I know fans of the Royals and the Pirates and the Marlins think the difference between us and them isn't Manichean black and white but a matter of the faintest different shade of gray. (Seriously, what's it like being the Royals and seeing the Yankees spend about a decade's worth of your payroll for a player nobody figured they cared about?) I know this is a case of the guy with the 75-foot yacht seething about his neighbor with the 100-foot yacht. (And the guy with the 75-foot yacht has gashed two holes in the bow at the end of two straight summers and sank the damn thing, but that's another problem.) I know it's small and ridiculous. I know.

But goddamn. You know who the Yankees are? The Yankees are the rich kid on your block whose parents gave him every toy but love, the one who'd give your friend five dollars to leave your house and go over to his. The Yankees are the guy who parks his SUV across the last two spaces in the rest area, breaks into a faster waddle to beat you onto the McDonald's line even though it's pretty short, barks “Supersize me!” and then leaves the wrappers all over the table when he leaves. The Yankees are the guy in the Lamborghini who smokes your Honda Civic pulling away from the light, then tells his bros what a great driver he is. The Yankees are here there and everywhere, as inescapable as death, taxes and our players being compared to Derek Jeter.

If baseball is a country song, the Yankees are Jolene.

And holy mother of fuck do I hate them.

20 comments to The Christmas Spirit

  • Anonymous

    It's sickening. I read that Blue Jays GM was so disgusted he ended all negotiations with every free agent and proclaimed he was done.
    When is this madness going to end?
    It takes the fun out of everything. I was so happy with the paltry $37 million we spent on K-Rod, and they spend more than 10 times that amount. It's frightening.

  • Anonymous

    The time will come when they have to re-organize baseball into A and B divisions. I mean seriously, how on earth are Milwaukee and Pittsburgh and KC and Oakland supposed to compete with New York, Boston and LA payrolls? And at this point, how does anyone compete with the Bronx payroll?
    One can only hope the Yankee financial house o' cards collapses someday. (Yet we're the ones who get taken by Madoff…)

  • Anonymous

    I've stopped caring what they do in the off-season and how they use their feeling of entitlement and exceptionalism to dictate their roster construction.
    The humbling of the Mets has certainly taken place the past two Septemebers and I am sure many of the fans have been sobered into remebering how tough it is to succesfully navigate part one of the quest to establish winter bragging rights, let alone the challenges of ascending to the pinnacle of the sport. The important part however is that the fans learned their lesson on when to feel completely confident that a game (or even an inning), let alone a season is in the bag.
    The Yankees seem to have not realized that there are other teams in the league that have more than a passing desire to have multiple, 4 to be exact, champagne sprays in their clubhouse and while none of them have the monetized riches to equal the pinstriped wallet, many of them actually have similar levels of talent and the wits to match.

  • Anonymous

    Nothing personal against Mr. Teixeira–I've actually always quite liked him, despite his habitually running roughshod over the Twins–but I can't say I wish him well. This episode really turned me off, and like a lot of you, I'm sick to death of all these zeroes being thrown around. It's all the more unseemly in the current climate, and while the rest of us are now probably going to spend our retirement saying “Welcome to Wal-Mart,” these f**kers are pocketing ridiculous amounts of cash. People everywhere are losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their savings, and in the middle of it all one guy gets $180 million for playing a game? I'm sorry, but this is no longer acceptable. It never was, but these days it's a hundred times more clear that it's too far out of control.
    Sorry to get all serious and stuff, but this just isn't funny anymore.

  • Anonymous

    The Jolene line is brilliant, but I have to confess I am little moved by this latest Evil Emp…are they still an empire, even?…this latest flail at player procurement by a team that used to win this way yet hasn't in quite a while. The numbers are insane, the timing for society at large is awkward, the lessons for team-building exercise '09 are dispiriting, but really, where they're concerned, what else is new?
    The Rays were wildly outspent in 2008. I saw several of them chillin' on the sidelines at the St. Petersburg Bowl answering questions about being American League Champs. The Brewers were in the playoffs. The Rockes are a year removed from a World Series appearance. Yankee spending guarantees nothing but a spongy Yankee bottom line and nothing in the victory column. Should they win it all, they will have acquired it by paying more for it than anybody ever has. If they don't win it all, and I mean everything up to and including lose in the ninth inning of the seventh game having led by a run when it began, then they are massive failures with big bills. Either way, there's nothing to be gained for them now.
    Hate them? Sure. Love that? I do.

  • Anonymous

    It's downright unseemly, but the one reason this Yankee profligacy makes me feel bad is that it reminds fans everywhere of how much their favorite player on their favorite team is making right now, while the rest of the country is in dire straits. Otherwise, why give a shit about the Yankees now? They've got two possible outcomes for 2009. Either they just totally dominate, and make it to the playoffs, and the national coverage all summer is “look what those Assholes bought with all that money.” Or, they're mediocre and riddled with injuries and sort of suck, and the national coverage all summer is “look at what those Assholes bought with all that money.”

  • Anonymous

    But why do I get the feeling that a nice chunk of our missing bailout money paid for their latest shopping spree? Maybe I just have Skank-hater paranoia, but they got that money from somewhere, and I'd hate to think it was you and me. Blehhh.

  • Anonymous

    I can't imagine there aren't dozens of loathsome institutions with their hands in our pockets. Why wouldn't the most loathsome one of them all be in on the grab?
    Everybody's paying for everything for everybody. Good thing we're not a socialist nation.

  • Anonymous

    I don't begrudge those three players their riches — they're awesome players, and it's not their fault 40,000 people won't pay $25 a night to watch me type.
    But the fact that ONE TEAM is paying out that half-billion dollars? I do begrudge that.

  • Anonymous

    I definitely agree. I just think they've set themselves up for backlash no matter what happens on the field now. The NYTimes coverage of the deal late yesterday said the Yankees were “continuing to spend money as if they were printing it,” mentioned the half billion figure and noted that their new stadium was built partly with public financing all within the first two sentences.

  • Anonymous

    I begrudge them their riches when it's most likely coming out of MY pocket this time, and I'm not even a Yankee fan. Good chance a lot of that money came from a bank that was bailed out with my tax dollars, and that I do begrudge. While I can barely make ends meet right now, the Yankees–collectively and individually–get fatter on my dime? Eff that.

  • Anonymous

    The Yankees are the rich kid on your block whose parents gave him every toy but love, the one who'd give your friend five dollars to leave your house and go over to his.

    The Yankees are a lethal combination of Veruca Salt and Henry F. Potter.

  • Anonymous

    It seems to me I've heard this song before…
    Lades and Gentlemen, your 1980's New York Yankees redux!
    Starring:
    CC Sabathia as Bill Gullickson!
    AJ Burnett as Rick Reuschel
    Mark Tiexiera as Jack Clark!
    and of course….
    Alex Rodriguez as Dave Winfield!

  • Anonymous

    Love that movie, but I have to admit Pottersville looks like a lot more fun than Bedford Falls…..

  • Anonymous

    “Geaaaawwwwwwwge, you once called me a waawped, frustrated old maaaaaaan…”

  • Anonymous

    A strange sort of socialism where society at large pays for the mis-steps and vanity projects of the wealthy. This reverse-”Robin Hood” effect is what's so hard to stomach.
    As far as I know, the Yankees aren't pitching in a dime for my projects, of the vanity variety or otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    They said Hal was the sensible one! , hey still have a terrible outfield so screw them.

  • Anonymous

    What can we do? They have the money. And, like usual, they went over the top and paid more than the value price.
    It's only a matter of time that even the Yankees will be hurt by businesses who have purchased most of the season tickets and are now just trying to stay afloat along with fans who are trying to do the same.
    Who knows, people might finally start to resent the players, their agents and ownership enough to stay at home and watch the games on TV.

  • Anonymous

    This lifted my spirits tremendously… my lifelong Yankee fan brother (44 years old) is disgusted and turned off by their unseemly spending in the current climate, while people are losing their jobs and homes. $180 million to hit a ball, in the middle of all this misery? They can drop dead as far as he's concerned. And yes, he used almost those exact words.
    Never thought I'd be so completely in tune with a Yankee fan regarding how vile their behavior is.