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One Nice Thing About Being a Pirate Fan

This will hopefully be the first in a series of pieces about nice things about being a Pirate fan, but I don't want to promise a specific number of pieces in case I can't think of any other nice things.

We don't have to deal with crap like this:

Torre deserves a hit for lighting gasoline on the bullpen. The players deserve a hit for underperforming. Spread it around like guacamole on a tortilla chip. What do you get?

You get the most critical moment of Jeter's five-year tenure as captain. Sure, it's difficult to lay it hard on him. Jeter came into yesterday's game hitting .348. He tried to perform CPR on his team late, smoking a Mike Timlin pitch well over the left-field fence. But if it's become a local civic duty to check up on Torre after every loss, it's about time we do the same with Jeter, too.

It might be time to point out that the Yankees are title-free under his stewardship. It might be time to point out that whatever craziness A-Rod has brought to their erstwhile friendship, Jeter has helped fester the brew by his past pointed unwillingness to fully embrace him. It's worth pointing out that if you can only empower a manager so much thanks to the fact that he dwells in the dugout and not on the field, then someone has to be deputized.

It's worth pointing out that this is an incredibly silly article, and it isn't something I cherry-picked - it just happens to be in the paper today. It's typical.

If I could, I'd be thrilled to take the 90 or 95 wins the Yankees and Red Sox both seem to accumulate each year. But if there's one nice thing about losing year after year, it's that we're no longer interested in this sort of absurdity.

Does this Post writer honestly believe that now - late April - is the most "critical moment" in Jeter's captaincy? Does the writer honestly believe that the Yankees' clubhouse is the soap opera he imagines? Does he honestly believe that it's Jeter's fault as a captain that the Yankees haven't won a title in the past several years?

Maybe he does, because there's plenty of evidence in the article to show that, at the very least, the guy can't write. And after all, the Post is a tabloid, so maybe I shouldn't expect much. But it's a paper you see people reading everywhere in New York's streets and subways, and the opinions expressed in this article are no more absurd and overheated than many you'd find on New York radio or from talking to Yankee fans. Every moment (no matter how unimportant) is "critical," every action (no matter how trivial) is morally charged and fraught with meaning, and every player (no matter how great) is in immediate danger of being traded or booed. Jeter and Rodriguez are treated like either TomKat or Jesus and Satan. They're treated more like Marvel characters than baseball players. There are, of course, folks who write well about the Yankees, like the YES Network's Steven Goldman. But if you were a Yankees fan, it would quickly become incredibly exasperating to deal with the nonsense brigade.

It's not just the Yankees, either. Red Sox fans are at least as bad, even before considering their pitiful obsessions with the Yankees and with losing. Many members of their press are no better, including Dan Shaughnessy, who has shamefully turned his feud with Curt Schilling into a story unto itself. Schilling himself has rightly railed against this brand of journalism:

Instead of using the forums they participate in to do something truly different, change lives, inspire people, you have an entire subset of media whose sole purpose in life is to actually be the news, instead of report it. They have little to no talent at what they do and other than a mastery of the English language their skill sets are non-existent.

Schilling's spot on, but the absurdity of his own brand of ridiculous puffery would be absolutely clear if he played in Pittsburgh.

Of course, I don't mean to paint all Yankees and Red Sox fans with the same brush; I personally know many who are very bright. But in New York and Boston, baseball is no longer a sport - it's some sort of overheated, epic battle between superheroes. It's The Lord of the Rings minus about 80 I.Q. points. That this battle takes place in the Northeast - supposedly one of the most enlightened, educated places in the country - mystifies me. In contrast, most of our blogs and fan pages are generally smart and reasonable; our fans harbor few illusions that they're watching a Jerry Bruckheimer creation rather than a baseball team; and the coverage in our most-read paper has become some of the best in the country. Say what you will about the Pirates - that they don't matter, that they're freeloaders - it's all true. And I'd gladly take the hysteria if I could also take all the extra wins the Yankees get each year. But for now, at least our fans and press are less ridiculous than theirs.