The Loop

Monday Superlatives

We regret to inform you that the Yankees are going to make you care again

August 23, 2021

Mike Stobe

This is a nightmare. Sometime around May, the part of my brain that cares about the Yankees and watches 90% of their games and reads the stupid Reddit page and follows the stupid news just checked out. All they did was strike out and lose games, 85% of their position players gave off serious "even if they get their act together they'll choke when it matters anyway" energy, and it wasn't even fun to be mad anymore. I just stopped, and it was a massive relief because the rest of my life is very busy, there's a pandemic happening that's bringing everyone down, and I have better things to do at night than get stressed out and angry over a baseball team (such as, watching bad television and stuffing my face with bad food until 2 a.m.).

In short, I've been the worst possible fan, and the on-again off-again relationship I've maintained with the Yankees since moving to North Carolina, where baseball is illegal in the state constitution and I could be executed just for writing this piece, was fully off. It felt fine. A little sad, but whatever, because if the team was going to be trash, I could just enjoy the sport sporadically and in whatever form I wanted.

All of that is over. The Yankees have won nine in a row, they're going to make the playoffs, they just owned the Red Sox, and this week they're about to play the Braves, another team on a nine-game winning streak. The juice is once again worth the squeeze, and my life of leisure is over. I have to care again.

Problem is, I still think deep down that the roster is loaded with choking dogs who are going to get owned by good pitching in the playoffs like every other year. I'm going to have to sit through Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez missing balls by three feet and looking like they've never seen an offspeed pitch before when we lose to the Rays or Red Sox or whoever, and I'm going to think back to this moment and be even madder than I am now. Caring is pain, and though nobody wants to hear a Yankee fan whine, due to the many championships, it's also true that we've largely been incompetent in the postseason for like 13 miserable years. It's getting old, and I thought this would be the year that I didn't have to be roped back in for the end. Instead, they've got me right where they want me—semi-invested, reluctant, and secretly very hopeful. As I said: Total nightmare.

This week's sign of the apocalypse: Malice at the Palace, French-Style

It's important to note that compared to American sports, European soccer is a madhouse inferno where roughly every week there's some insane fan incident that would blow our minds and dominate the U.S. news cycle for months, but over there is worth exactly one eyebrow raised for 12 seconds. There is no quantitative comparison. However, this past weekend in France, there was a good qualitative comparison: An intense rivalry, a visiting player getting pelted with water bottles, reacting violently when one nails him, sparking a full-scale court/pitch invasion by the fans requiring police intervention as the players rushed to their tunnels. That's right, folks: Le Malice at Le Palace. Watch this, from the Marseilles-Nice Ligue 1 match:

The big difference is that Marseille's Dimitri Payet didn't rush the stands, which is good, because unlike Ron Artest in Detroit, he probably would have been murdered by those lunatics. Amazingly, French league officials decided after all this that the match should be continued. Marseilles said "no thanks," and the match was abandoned on the spot. Which is, of course, good, because it might teach the fans a lesson that they are clearly not learning from the team they support, as evidenced when the Nice president managed to disgrace himself by blaming Marseilles players for the riot, saying they shouldn't have retaliated to getting pelted with bottles. Basically, the whole thing is the world's biggest possible shitshow.

The only drama left now is seeing whether Payet will find Buddhism a few years down the line and change his name to Metta Paix Mondiale.

Baseball badass of the week: Ella Bruning, Texas

Bruning is the 20th girl to play in the Little League World Series, she's a catcher for the team from Texas, and she's making the most of her chance. Check out this highlight reel, which encompasses a grand total of an inning but showcases exactly how much she's raking in Williamsport:

Other baseball badass of the week: Gavin Weir, South Dakota

Anytime there's a little leaguer this tall, and who pitches this well, the automatic thought is that he's probably 15 years old and hiding his birth certificate very well, Danny Almonte-style. But that's getting harder and harder to pull off, and it appears that Gavin Weir of South Dakota is legit. His line is absurd: 16.2 IP, no hits, 45 strikeouts. That's not believable even by Little League standards. Watch the big lefty deal:

If the Yankees sign this kid between now and October, I might actually start to believe.