The Bug

Two unrelated stories and a music video to tie it all together.

First, the video: It's "The Bug" by Dire Straits.

"Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." Here in Florida these days, it's the Love bug, plecia nearctica, that's smacking into the windshields by the thousands. That linked Wikipedia article about them has a nice picture of a joined pair, showing how they get their moniker. They swarm for a few weeks twice a year, mostly during May and September, and they do it... in pairs. And they stay joined for a couple of days at a time, unless their tryst is interrupted by a fatal collision with a motor vehicle... Which happens very, very frequently.

Love bugs don't bite or sting, fortunately; the adults don't even eat. They just emerge from their larval form and get their freak on. Unfortunately, they are drawn to automobile exhaust, which they find to be an aphrodisiac, not like they need one. And then... Splat-splat! The bad news for drivers is that the bodies of the Love bugs are very difficult to get off the front of the car, and even worse, if left on for more than a couple of days, the acids in the insects' bodies will damage the car's paint. Nobody likes Love bugs except for car wash owners.

"Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger, sometimes you're the ball..." The New York Yankees lost again last night in Toronto, 7-2, dropping them to 21-28 and into a last-place tie with the perennially pathetic Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 13-1/2 games back of the first-place Boston Red Sox. It's the farthest out of first place that the Yankees have been since August 1995. You know that George Steinbrenner is like Mount Vesuvius getting ready to erupt.

Most years, the Yankees are the Louisville Slugger, the richest team in baseball that can buy any player they want. The result is that there are two kinds of baseball fans: Fans who love the Yankees, and fans who hate the Yankees. I'm guessing that between 10% and 20% of baseball fans fall into the first category, more than would be expected from just the people living in the New York metropolitan area, because a lot of people around the country also root for the Yankees, because they like to root for a winner. They're the same people who are Dallas Cowboys fans (when the Cowboys are winning), Chicago Bulls fans (during the Michael Jordan years), etc. They're front-runners, bandwagon jumpers, dedicated followers of fashion.

There are a lot of other people, however, who would never cheer for the Yankees just on general principles. I am one of them. I grew up in Kansas City in the 1970s when the Royals were good (oh, so many years ago) and in 1976, 1977 and 1978, the Royals lost heartbreaking playoff series to the Yankees each year. My greatest baseball memory is not the Royals' World Series win in 1985 over the St. Louis Cardinals but the playoff victory over the hated Yankees in 1980. It didn't matter that we lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies; all that mattered was beating the Yankees. And it was sweet.

So yes, there is an element of schadenfreude when I look at how poorly the Yankees are performing with baseball's highest payroll (by a country mile). Soon, they'll be adding Roger Clemens, who is being paid some horrendously high amount of money to pitch for four months. But for a team that far out of contention, it's a bit like putting chrome rims on a Yugo. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. The Yankees have 113 games left. In order to make the playoffs even as a wild card, they'll probably need to win 90 games. That means they'd have to go 69-44 the rest of the way, a .611 percentage. This Yankees team doesn't look like a .611 team the rest of the way, even with the superannuated 45-year-old Clemens joining them soon.