Sunday, May 6, 2012

The New York Yankees and Jung's Ultimate Rescuer Fallacy

     Maybe Americans have some vestigial, ingrained faith in John Wayne, or maybe most Americans have seen too many trash-to-treasure reality shows, but one month into every recent baseball season the fan base of every team not competing for a playoff spot's thoughts turn to what early Psychoanalyst psychologist Carl Jung referred to as an Ultimate Rescuer. Some nebulous, munificent entity somewhere out there in the cosmos that would swoop in at the last minute and make everything better. In major league baseball that entity has a name...

The New York Yankees. Which is an ironic incarnation of the Ultimate Rescuer as the Yankees are also known as The Evil Empire. I'll refrain from drawing parallels to society at large. But every Spring the ritual is revisited. Your team comes out with a bad start and you think your playoff chances are gone, and you've got three or four players you blame for it. They're not playing well, or they have an attitude problem, or they're not achieving their full potential, or they're a veteran who's best days are behind him. Oh, I know what we can do... call the Yankees. Because they have a tradition of winning with bums. 

Ya, the Yankees have won 27 World Series by making a non-stop effort to scour the planet for every burnout, no talent, has been bum who decides to put on a uniform. Hell, while you're at it, maybe they'll take that old sofa off your hands, too. 

Just because Yogi Berra was once a Yankee doesn't mean they have some cockamamie scheme that turns garbage into diamonds. The Yankee plan has been rather consistent: wait for other teams to develop talent, then use the twenty or so major league teams who never have a shot of being competitive as their minor league system. You draft them, develop them, coach them up, then when they blossom and you can no longer afford to keep them, there's one team that can.

Throw in a few players they develop themselves, and one starts to wonder why the Yankees don't win every year. But back to the sports fans who seem to think the Yankees are the city dump of Major League baseball, or more accurately a scrap iron dealer who not only takes your junk off your hands, but spits out cash in return... you're insane. You can "package" as much garbage as you want in one box, but it's still garbage. The Yankees probably will deal a lot at the trade deadline this year, and maybe they will even speculate on a veteran or a head case or a young player who's career has stalled out, but they won't do it out of the goodness of their hearts, and they won't do it free. Desperation stinks. And begging raises the price of things. But there are 25 or so major league cities out there right now where the fans are dreaming of that trash-for-treasure trade where all their problems magically disappear and John Wayne appears out of the mist to make everything right. Keep dreaming. 

February 10, 2013 update: I wonder if the Yankees will be trading Alex Rodriguez? 

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