I was floored last night when a family friend told me that Jason Giambi had signed with the goddamn Cleveland Indians. Just months earlier I had a cheap laugh at his expense when I found out he was trying to manage the Colorado Rockies. Giambi in my eyes was a “party animal,” whose reign started long before he shed his mullet, beard and laid -back attitude for the lilly white sanctity of a Yankees uniform.
Giambi’s three-year tour of NYC’s taverns, according to eyewitnesses, actually began two months before he signed with the Yankees in December 2001, with him table- dancing until 4 a.m. in an Upper West Side bar the night he flew to New York with the A’s up 2-zip in the Division Series. (that series turned out to be the most chair throwing disaster in the history of my fandom thanks to his idiot brother)
Giambi’s excessive partying that night (complete with faux rockstar poser duds) apparently spooked several Yankees players. But maybe word never got up to George Steinbrenner before he signed off on the worst contract in Yankees history.(still laughing about that one) Giambi “lived the life of a rock star,” according to a former member of the Yankees’ traveling party, and several witnesses say he was partying late with Ricky Williams in Miami during the 2003 World Series, right before begging out of Game 5. The same person said Giambi would sneak beer onto the bench and call his in-game shots personal “protein drinks.” He also picked up smoking and could be seen during the 2004 ALCS chewing tobacco while supposedly in sick bay. His production withered to almost nothing as he transitioned from the physique of a He-man to Pee-wee Herman. (not from cutting fat out of his diet, it turns out) The fans started getting on his ass because he couldn’t get the job done without the ‘roids, and was being paid 120 million. A former Yankees official predicted the bad publicity would overwhelm him because he’s a “mental midget.”
I’m certainly not going to judge Mr. Giambi for partying and (alleged) drug use, I’ve done loads of that in my time and still drink or take a toke in a social gathering or if I’m trying to listen to some mellow jams. As any reader of this blog may or may not know, I also didn’t disapprove (then) of steroid use. The game needed a jolt, was at an all-time low in popularity and home runs made the game sexy again for a short time. Sure, I suppose there is a bit of jealousy because I’ll never make the kind of money this guy does; but it’s more than that. (or the Yankee signing) It’s about the privilege these guys feel they have. Giambi can disrespect the game, rape fans for their hard-earned cash, and still expect the game to give him a shot at a distinguished managerial role. I don’t hate the guy, he’s just the physical representation of everything that is wrong with this country; a culture of exposure, where we desire to let it all hang out in an orgy of exhibitionism, self-involvement and confession. An abuse of power and a big “fuck you” to the fans….. as I cry into my 15 dollar beer.