Hey, Griff’’! Sorry we haven’t hit you up with any Panamanian baseball priming in a while (if you’d like a refresher on the information you’ve already received to help you prep for your announced November visit, give a look here and here). But while you’ve been swinging your way through the first half of the season back in Seattle, we’ve been secluded in thought – thought about the Yankees.
This hasn’t been a pleasant experience, frankly, because I don’t like them. Which has made it more than a bit disappointing to find their propaganda: Everywhere. In. Panama:
And it’s not just some crazy hat obsession. Ask Panamanians about their favorite MLB team, and this is what you get:
One guy says the Red Sox. Every now and again you’ll hear something crazy like the Dodgers or the Braves. But nine times out of ten, it’s the Yankees.
The only solace I take in all this is that 1.) almost all of the hats are knock offs, so the Yankees aren’t making any money in licensing fees, and 2.) the nickname that the first guy in the video used, “Los Mulos de Manhattan” (“The Manhattan Mules”), sounds considerably less flattering to the American ear than it does to the Panamanian.
Granted, it’s not like this Yankee mania is totally out of the blue. Mariano Rivera is Panamanian (he’s from a place called La Chorrera, which is kind of like Newark to Panama City’s New York, East Oakland to Panama City’s San Francisco, Independence to Panama City's Kansas City, etc…), so they’ve got some legitimate claim to Yankee fandom. But there’s something else at work here as well.
Prior to the presidential elections in May, we were getting a rundown of the Panamanian political landscape from an expert, and by way of explaining how then-candidate and current-president-elect Ricardo Martinelli had managed to create a twenty point swing in the polls over the course of a little more than a month, he said that Panamanians have a tendency to exhibit bandwagon tendencies. When it started to look like Martinelli had the support to take the election, everyone hopped on board. “They like to be with the winner,” he said. “This is also why they are all Yankees fans.”
Which is to say that, should Mariano get traded to the Nationals, it is unlikely that the market for red caps with a big "W" in the middle will explode here. They like the Yankees because the Yankees (historically, at least) are winners. Similarly, it seems likely that the rah-rah attitudes toward the U.S. many Panamanians exhibit could be attributed to the fact that, geopolitically speaking, the U.S. is a winner (again, historically, at least).
panablog has broken a lot of new ground in using a variety of techniques to explore Panamanian phenomena, but to date, we’ve failed to use any baseball analogies, which are always enlightening and applicable, no matter what the topic. I think it’s time we corrected that. So today, we unveil panablog’s comprehensive baseball analogy for U.S.-World relations. It looks something like this:
Let’s take a couple of examples to flesh this out a bit. Consider, for a moment, the polarizing effect both the Yankees and the U.S. have the potential to elicit. I think this dimension comes from the perception that, no matter how hard they (the U.S. or the Yankees) might have worked to build up a history of success, with all of their resources they’ve accumulated, it doesn’t seem like the deck is stacked fairly. That is, the same tactics that create success also have the potential to breed resentment. Seriously, you guys already have like six All Stars on your team, and you’re going to bring A-Rod on board? Even though you’ve already got Jeter at shortstop? And A-Rod’s willing to move to third to make it happen? What are the Royals supposed to do?
But, as I am all too aware, Yankee-hating is a fraught proposition. When the Yankees failed to make the playoffs last year, TV ratings for the fall classic plummeted. Maybe it was satisfying to be spared the sight of pinstripes in October, but the Yankees’ absence did dim the spotlight on the sport’s premiere showcase. Similarly, when the US economy collapsed last fall, the global economy tanked. So even if you don't really like the Yankees, or America, you kind of need to have them around and doing well.
So, there it is. Baseball analogy. Always helps clear things right up. If an idea is like a baseball bat, a baseball analogy is like pine tar: it really helps you get a grip on the thing. Or if an idea is like a baseball, a baseball analogy is like a little piece of sandpaper slipped into the mitt, allowing the pitcher (the idea holder) to put a little extra spin on it.
And so on and so forth.