Occupy Yankee Stadium
Wall Street and Yankee Stadium are separated by 10 miles, but they’re effectively neighbors in a Park Avenue Co-Op. The New York Yankees do not exist without Wall Street. They are its embodiment in sports. After the frantic, implausible Red Sox collapse, a friend made one of the best observations I’ve ever heard about baseball: You know nothing about what is going to happen, but you know the Yankees will be good. We know nothing about what is going to happen to America, but Wall Street will make money.
Now,some people have mustered the temerity to sit in upon Wall Street. They’ve been praised and marginalized, mostly the latter, but as they’ve stuck to their (verbal) guns, it’s been quite a bit of the former as well. They’re still criticized by some for not having a “coherent” message, but others are actually trying to tease out their motivations, and coming away impressed. They came to find the children and instead found the babysitters.
You don’t get a lot of thinking at Yankee Stadium. This is to the credit and detriment of Yankee fans, who treat every game like winning it is their birthright and expect, even in the darkest moments, something called “Yankee magic” but is really just a simple equation of dollars and talent and balls flying around the Bronx. Still, it’s extraordinary. I’ve been to about 20 major league baseball stadiums, and the closest analog I’ve found to Yankee Stadium is in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The difference is that the new-money Patriots have a Belichick/Brady-dependent expiration date. The Yankees will stop being good approximately when the Earth crashes into the sun.
What is the expiration date of Occupy Wall Street? Nobody knows, but we’re well past what I—and I suspect most—thought it would be in the first place. Instead of opening a milk carton every day and expecting it to have gone sour the protest is actually maturing, getting stronger, growing a culture. There’s even a library down there. It helps that the owner of the park which is being occupied has thus far refused to kick the kids out, and it helps that the weather has been, at least in the last few days, beyond cooperative. If there’s a nicer place than the northeast in the early fall, I’m not sure it has been invented yet.
Major League Baseball has locked the Yankees out. They own the park, but there will be no games. There will be no $1,200 seats sold, no more $9.50 beers consumed. Reality has set in for Yankees fans, if only for a day. They know they are baseball’s ruling class, its unstoppable force. They have their birthright, and they are unapologetic about it. The house always wins, and they’re rooting for it.
Many in the media, Bill O’Reilly included, think the Occupy Wall Street-ers are silly for trying to take on the house. That’s the long and short of it. But at least in theory, they are the house. Their house, their rules; that’s supposed to be how the country works. Anyone who calls them idealists is a fool. They’re pragmatists, doing the only thing they think will actually get attention. They’re watching, and now people are watching them, for as long as the show lasts.