As autumn rolls around, there seem to be a few things that are certain. One of them happens to be that the New York Yankees will be playing in the post-season. The arrogance of the team – and its owner – has spawned an entire generation of baseball fans who might root for various teams in their own cities, but have in common their hatred of the Yankees.
With a tongue-in-cheek salute to those fans, Jim Caple has authored a book celebrating all there is to hate about the Bronx Bombers. Caple is a senior writer at ESPN.com and is known for his hatred of the team.
That’s not to say his feelings about the Yankees don’t come through loud and clear in The Devil Wears Pinstripes. Far from it as he goes into extensive detail about all there is to hate the Yankees for. The main focus of the book is the time since the team was purchased by George Steinbrenner, but there are reasons throughout many of the generations.
Caple pulls no punches as he goes after some of the most beloved figures of Yankee lore, including Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, and Billy Martin, and more. The older generation was held in a sort of protected state by the press during their time as ballplayers, although stories have circulated in later years. Caple pulls no punches and really no one should be shocked by any of what he states, even if it is with a venom most Yankee fans aren’t used to.
And the fans get their just desserts in The Devil Wears Pinstripes too. Caple talks of how the bleacher fans have targeted players throughout the years and made the bleachers an unpleasant place to be, particularly if you have a family you wish to bring to the ballpark to just see a game. What’s sad is that these are the most affordable seats for fans who would want to do just that.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that the Bleacher Creatures are disrespectful. Not at all. When the Yankees played a recording of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch, two fans held up a U.S. flag and another fan stood at attention and saluted it while wearing a t-shirt that read “We Banged Your Mom.” And as soon as the recording finished, the creatures chanted “Kate Smith Sucks! Kate Smith Sucks!”
I tell you, it made me proud to be an American.
This is a sample of the sarcasm with which Caple seems to regard all things in Yankee-world. He compares the Yankees YES network to Al-Jazeera, dubbing it Yank-Jazeera. He rips apart the beloved icon of all things Yankee, Yankee Stadium itself.
Caple lists ten of the Yankees players whose name seems to drive people crazy at the mere mention and backs each up with a variety of reasons. He also delights Yankee-haters with a list of moments we can savor for watching the Yankees in all their power fall flat on their face.
However, most of the venom seems directed at one person, Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. Rightfully so, I say. Caple presents a good case why Steinbrenner’s actions since he purchased the team in 1973 have not only created legions of fans who hate the Yankees even more than before but have also been bad for baseball overall.
While Steinbrenner is infamous for firing managers, he is merely following his predecessors’ example – the Yankees have always changed managers more frequently than they change the hot dogs on the concession stand grills. Every team fires the manager when the team loses, of course, but the Yankees also fire them when they win … And Steinbrenner has fired three managers after they got the Yankees to the postseason.
The rotating door on the managers’ office in Yankee Stadium is discussed with great sarcasm, if not a little sympathy for some of the managers who have resided there. Caple also exposes how the press has helped the Yankees throughout the years, gaining sympathy for their players and staff at the expense of other teams who have often only reacted to the outrageous antics and arrogance of the team.
Throughout the book Caple seems to show that he is also a fan of Star Wars, often comparing the Yankees to the Empire and dubbing George Steinbrenner Darth Steinbrenner. I thought this was particularly funny in the book, but then I do have a certain affinity for all things Star Wars.
At times I thought perhaps Caple was targeting Boston Red Sox fans with The Devil Wears Pinstripes. It’s easy to think that, especially since I purchased the book in a bookstore in New England. However, Caple also points out that despite the alleged “Curse of the Bambino” dating back to 1918, the intense rivalry between these two clubs has been a recent phenomenon. It’s really not an issue as anyone who hates the Yankees will find enough fodder here to back up those feelings and get a good laugh in the process. There were many spots I clipped so I could read it to other people (mostly Red Sox fans) later on and we all had a good laugh.
At just over 200 pages, The Devil Wears Pinstripes isn’t a heavy or intense read. It’s fun and something to help get the frustration out of the system for fans who year after year have to deal with the over-priced cry-babies from the Bronx and the antics of their psychotic owner. It’s something this Mets fan, having lived in the shadow of all that arrogance all those years, can really appreciate. You learn to take the little victories where you can, like how I shoved it in someone’s face just yesterday that the Mets would clinch the NL East before the Yankees would clinch the AL East. Hey, it’s something, all right?!?!?!
Categories: Book Reviews