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Home » 2008 NewsMarch 2008 » Imagine Nation

Imagine Nation

For the second time in four years the Red Sox visited the White House and were feted by the president on the South Lawn of the White House. On Wednesday, February 27, George W. Bush spoke lucidly on one of the few issues in which he is expert — baseball. The other topics in which he has experience — evading military service, drug and alcohol abuse, pilfering elections, and the like — are not discussed in polite company.

President Bush made mention of “the Mighty Red Sox Nation,” practically recognizing it as a sovereign state. Fanfare such as this and the fact that the Red Sox outdrew the Yankees in road games incited Hank Steinbrenner’s rant in The New York Times’ Play Magazine.

“Red Sox Nation?” Hank says. “What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”

The feature chronicles Hank’s ascent to the Yankee throne (and descent into madness) thanks not to his talents but because of the divorce of Steve Swindal, the former heir to imperium, from George’s daughter Jennifer. It also described the architecture and embellishments of the new Yankee Stadium, which called to mind rallies at Nuremberg rather than a leisurely day enjoying the national pastime.

If the stadium’s exterior, with its limestone and granite façade, is self-consciously retro, the interior will be thoroughly modern.... The team’s interlocking “NY” logo will be everywhere, from the door handles to the latticework. Lining the so-called Great Hall that runs from home plate to the right-field foul pole will be huge two-sided banners, with Yankee legends in black-and-white on one side and more recent superstars in color on the other. The Yankees are eight years removed from their last world championship, but it’s hard not to regard the new stadium, with its over-the-top evocation of Yankee mythology, as an in-your-face assertion of Yankee might, a pointed and — depending on your perspective — either desperate or reassuring reminder that the team is less a baseball club than an American institution. It will be Red Sox Nation’s version of hell.


As hellish as the current administration of the United States is, I much prefer my team visiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the site of a true monument of democracy. Such sojourn means more than erecting a cenotaph to long-past greatness.

Photos courtesy The White House and The New York Yankees/Associated Press, respectively.

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