Tim Noonan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 September, 2010, 12:00am

What, did I go to sleep last night in Hong Kong and wake up this morning in Piscataway, New Jersey? Or White Plains, New York? Or maybe Yonkers, Coney Island, the Upper East Side or Hell's Kitchen? I mean, look outside people. We haven't had a garbage strike in more than 40 years. This can't be New York City. So why do I see the Yankees every time I turn on my TV? You know, as in the New York Yankees.

Twice a day like clockwork on ESPN International, the worldwide leader in sports, there they are. Every morning a live broadcast and every afternoon reruns. And lest any of my friends at ESPN's headquarters down in Singapore get the wrong idea, I am not complaining about you showing too much baseball. Far from it. I've been in Asia for close to 20 years and endured more garbage on the tube masked as sports than is humanly possible. So there is not too much baseball on your network. There is, however, too much Yankees on your network.

I know it's not personal; it's business and probably good business at that. When it comes to the world's most popular team, the Yankees have to be in the discussion with the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Los Angeles Lakers. Of course, soccer and basketball have an infinitely larger following globally than baseball. But hey, this is New York we're talking about, not Manchester, Madrid or even tofu-loving LA.

This is New York, the world's city, baby. Just ask them. You can hear a Yankee fan coming a mile away and you can smell them coming two miles away. They move amongst us here in Hong Kong, many of them conveniently disguised in suits and ties. But all of them united by a sense of entitlement that would make an Englishman blush. Well, all you hardcore Yankee fans are free to stop reading now. Go on, get lost because presumably you get your Yankee fix by watching their games streaming online through MLB.com or on a sling box. You don't need ESPN to show them twice a day so go get your fill of yo, yo, yo's by watching a Jersey Shore rerun or something. I need to talk to the rest of Asia here.

If you look at ESPN/Star Sports footprint in Asia, you can see a diverse mix of 300 million viewers scattered throughout 24 countries. According to ESPN, 'We aim to cater to the Yankees' huge fan base while ensuring to offer a balanced coverage of all MLB teams'. Until that balance is achieved, I would like to speak with my baseball-loving friends in places like Battambang, Cambodia; Tanah Merah, Malaysia; and Pingding, Indonesia. You folks are the reason we get the Yankees non-stop and that's OK. Passion, misdirected as it may be, is passion nonetheless. But having been a baseball fan for more than 40 years, I just want to make sure you understand what being a Yankee fan means.

Shame? No, you don't do shame anymore. You're a Yankee fan. It allows you to say things with a straight face like a friend did last year when he uttered that this was one of the most likeable Yankee teams in years because, 'they were built from the ground up, very naturally'. Ok, well the Yankees did win an unprecedented 27th World Series championship. But this came on the heels of an eight-year title drought which prompted them to go out and spend US$441 million on multi-year free-agent contracts to buy their number one starting pitcher (C.C. Sabathia), number two starter (A.J. Burnett) and their best hitter (Mark Teixeria). Yeah, all natural that and about as organic as that toxic waste dump across the border in Nanyang.

And speaking of toxic dumps, thanks to the Yankees' lucrative TV deals their payroll this year is a whopping US$206 million, which is US$44 million more than the second highest team and at least twice as much as 22 of the 30 teams in baseball. Fair? You're a Yankee fan. Fair is for losers and schmoes. Now the conventional face of the Yankees is Derek Jeter, a very good and classy player who has been mythologised ad nauseam because he has had the good fortune of spending his entire career in Yankee pinstripes. Jeter dated all the right women. And then, hello Mariah Carey, Jeter dumped all the wrong women.

But despite that, the face of the franchise to you neophyte Yankee fans here in Asia has to be Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod is all glam and sham, he's dated everyone from Madonna and Kate Hudson to Cameron Diaz and himself. It's true. Last year he did a series of photos for Details magazine, all buffed and making love to his image in the mirror even though it turned out that most of those muscles were the results of years of steroid use. While A-Rod clearly loved himself, hardcore Yankee fans were much less infatuated with him. Still, when he hit his 600th home run the crowd at Yankee Stadium gave him a raucous and extended standing ovation. It was quite a scene, 47,659 people basically faking an orgasm.

And you? Well you're a Yankee fan, you can fake an orgasm as well. You may be living in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, but you're getting more Yankees on your TV than the folks in Tea Neck, New Jersey, are. So fake an orgasm or two and pretend you care about A-Rod and the rest of his cohorts as they prepare to capture title number 28. It's never enough, you know that. Even though the Yankees have pretty much clinched a play-off spot already, you don't care that the other teams in pennant races aren't on TV here. That's for losers and schmoes, like me.