The New York Times had a couple of interesting comparisons to the Yankees in today’s edition. One article, in the sports section, compared the Yankees to Goldman Sachs, in that they seem to produce unparalleled wealth and success while seeming to luxuriate in the feelings of unfairness they foster. The other article, was about today’s parade, which will take place on Wall Street, which according to the article, really needs a good moment like this to help provide some good vibes for the emotionally beleaguered financial district (and the city overall of course).
Does anyone think it might make sense for Manhattan to stop reaping the benefits of the Bronx Bombers at the expense of the Bronx? Just as the financial collapse was helped along by large firms manipulating and taking advantage of poor and middle class Americans, so too will Manhattan, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the Yankees get to parade around Manhattan without a care in the world about the community they’ve left behind. Again.
Meanwhile local vendors of Yankee Stadium have complained of lost profits this year, due to both the change of foot traffic patterns created by the new Stadium as well as the more gaudy and extensive merchandise opportunities within the House That Greed Built. Furthermore, children still do not have a completed park to replace the enormous one that was shoved aside by the new Stadium. It is as if the Yankees have treated the local community with the same cold-hearted competitiveness with which they dispatch rivals when pursuing free agents: we’re richer; we’re bigger; deal with it.
Why would the Grand Concourse not be a fitting place for a parade? They are still called the Bronx Bombers, but everything about them should be the Madison Avenue Maulers or the Wall Street Warriors. They are corporate in every way, from the legions of fair-weather fans that follow them (plenty of diehards, but look no further than the New York Knicks to see how much loyalty New York fans provide their teams in time of need), to the parade that will honor them.
I worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx for 3 ½ years. I remember each year when it was time to select a venue for our individual bureau holiday party, venues in the Bronx were not even discussed. We were serving the Bronx daily as law enforcement officials, but most of the ADA’s, like many young New Yorkers who would rather have two or three roommates and live in Manhattan than have more space, but (gasp!) live in an outer borough (especially the dreaded Bronx), ever dreamed of setting foot inside a Bronx establishment for a party, as if they all feared that after hours they too could become the next Sherman McCoy. To District Attorney Robert Johnson’s credit, the annual holiday for the entire office was (and still is) always held at the Marina Del Ray in the Bronx.
Last century the Grand Concourse was just that, grand. But various things, including racism, helped set in motion the image of the Bronx that still prevails over the collective consciousness of New York City, regardless of whether or not it is actually reality. Many issues hurt the Bronx, not the least of it was the racism of white flight, which led to The Bonfire of The Vanities mindset that seems to still prevail today on off days or road games for the Yankees more urbane fans. And because of that sad perception, combined with the corporate mentality of the Yankees and their fans (at this point the demands of Yankee fans, of which I must admit I am one, seem more like the impatient ranting of shareholders, than the charming loyalty of fans) the parade goes on today downtown.
There is no connection with the Bronx for the Yankees, just as many people felt that Mike Bloomberg had no connection with many working families and just as Wall Street seems to have no connection (not to mention conscience) to the anger and plight of many working Americans. Having the parade in the Bronx might actually help the South Bronx in a way that a stadium and a shopping mall cannot: it could help to start changing people’s perspectives, so that people could see the Bronx in the daytime and not just under those very expensive lights under which the Yankees play at night. The Bronx clearly loves the Yankees, but I’m not sure the feeling is mutual.