by | Mar 24, 1991 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

NEW YORK — Some people were surprised this week when the New York Yankees seemed ready to pay $2 million to acquire injured baseball star Bo Jackson, even though he may never play the game again.

They are obviously not New Yorkers.

Real New Yorkers were yelling “GET HIM! SPEND THE MONEY! COME ON, WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?” — almost as soon as Jackson became available.

And there are several reasons for this:

1) In New York, $2 million only buys you a bagel and a cup of coffee, so what’s the big deal?

2) New Yorkers desperately want every sports star on the planet — so they can boo the hell out of them.

3) New Yorkers love to spend someone else’s money. That’s why they keep taking each other’s wallets.

Besides — and this is the most important reason of all — if the Yankees had claimed Jackson, they would have beaten the other major league teams to him. They would have been . . . first.

And there is nothing a New Yorker loves more than being first.

This explains why, when you fly into any New York airport, as soon as the wheels touch the runway, people are out of their seats pulling down their baggage, trying to beat each other to the door. Naturally the stewardess announces: “Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated. We are not yet at the terminal.” To which the passengers reply: “Drop dead. We’re from New York.”

This also explains why apartment hunters in New York will buy the Sunday newspaper on Saturday night, find the best listing, and sleep on that doorstep until morning, so they can beat the others to it.

Of course, in this city, many of the doorsteps are already taken by the homeless, a serious problem. And when apartment hunters spot a homeless person, they are naturally concerned.

“Aw, bleep, will you look at that,” they say, “someone got here first.” Beating the crowd of 7 million

Being first in New York is not so much a habit as it is an obsession. People here want to see an 8 p.m. movie? They leave their apartments at 3 p.m. to buy tickets — so they can come back later and skip past the out-of-towners who actually arrived at 7:45 and expected to get seats! Hahaha! What idiots!

The same rule applies to eating out. New Yorkers will rush to a top restaurant two hours early to put their names on the waiting list — so they can come back later and skip past the out-of-towners who showed up at dinner time and actually expected to eat! Hahaha! What fools!

Few things delight a New Yorker more than picking the right spot to stand when the subway doors open — so he can grab a seat before anyone else. (Not that there are many seats left on the subway, since most of them have been stolen and sold as living room furniture.) Also, if you have ever been in an NY cab when a toll booth opens at the bridge — look out. It’s like Demolition Derby.

Now, you may ask, where does this me-first stuff come from? To which a New Yorker will say: “Drop dead. I’m late for a movie.”

But I think I can explain, having lived in this city for many years, back when the garbage was only up to your ankles. I blame the me-first attitude on three simple factors:

1) This city has 7 million people, which is a pretty long line, if you’re in the back.

2) The average New Yorker loses his manners about the same time he loses his tonsils.

3) With Leona Helmsley and George Steinbrenner as role models, just how generous is a town going to be? Crossing the plate still counts

So, all things considered, it is no surprise the Yankees were ready to pay Jackson, who, at the moment, can’t walk without crutches, because it would have been another big name on their roster to make all the other teams jealous. And as one writer here put it: “The Yankees should sign Bo to show the fans they’re serious about winning.”

Of course, maybe in a game where winning is determined by how much money you blow, this would work. In baseball, winning is determined by how many runners cross the plate. Which is hard to do on crutches.

Ultimately, the Yankees decided to pass on Jackson. Medical reasons. Personally, I think someone stole their wallets.

But this is all part of the great city of New York, where you can still drive across a bridge for the low, low price of only four dollars. Maybe you think I’m being too hard on the place. Maybe you are a former New Yorker, and you think people in this city are just as sweet as anywhere else. Maybe you wish you were writing this newspaper column, so you could show jerks like me a thing or two.

Sorry. I was here first.


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