When Hank Steinbrenners attack

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Hank Steinbrenner, who somehow managed to gnaw off the muzzle with which he had been fitted in 2009, decided to unload on mansion-building ballplayers, the Yankees’ alleged lack of the “hunger” and communists while talking to the Yankees beat writers today. The highlights, courtesy of Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger:

  • Hank called last year’s Yankees team unfocused, saying that they concentrated too much on “building mansions.”  He added that he wasn’t singling anyone out, but it should be noted that Derek Jeter is currently building a mansion;
  • He said that the Yankees celebrated too much after winning it all in 2009. This year’s team, however, has the “the hunger” in his opinion.
  • Finally, he blasted revenue sharing and the luxury tax, calling it “socialism.”  He said “communism, socialism, whatever you want to call it, is never the answer.”

How a team that wins 95 games and makes the LCS can be characterized as lacking “hunger” is a bit of mystery.  Why he would go after Derek Jeter like that is even more of a mystery.

But I gotta tell ya, I’m 100% on board with Hank when he goes after the communism that is Major League Baseball’s revenue sharing system.  Those other owners can’t accept handouts!  They ought to make their way in the world and pull themselves up by their bootstraps!

You know, like Hank Steinbrenner did.

The Yankees stopped playing Kate Smith’s version of “God Bless America”

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The Yankees have played “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch since 9/11. The version they play is the most famous version, recorded in 1939 by Kate Smith. As of today they will no longer be playing the Kate Smith version, however.

Why? The New York Daily News reports that it’s because “the Yankees were made aware of Smith’s history of potential racism.” Which is a rather interesting way of putting it, because there’s not much “potential” to this:

Smith was a famous singer before and during WWII who recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among other treats. She shot a video for that song that takes place in an orphanage for black children, and much of the imagery is startlingly racist. She also recorded, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which included the lyrics, “Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

I’m guessing this information was available in some Kate Smith biography or is in the memory of some of her big fans who may still be alive, but it was news to the Yankees until recently and once they learned it they decided that going with a version of the song NOT sung by Kate Smith was better. Good call!

Oh, and this was not the first time that the Yankees had to make this kind of call. Ten years ago they fired Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who used to sing the song at the ballpark during the postseason, after he made anti-Semitic remarks. Precedent, baby.

Anyway, I’m sure someone will complain about this, but I feel like there are better hills to die on than “the Yankees should continue to play the racist lady’s version of the show tune that, despite what we think of it now, was never meant as an actual patriotic anthem.”

If you feel like dying on that hill, be my guest. But please, show your work.