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Steel dragons and Brooklyn Dodgers

Fri, Feb 12, 2010

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As a kid, I rooted for the Dodgers – not the treacherous, transplanted L.A. Dodgers, but the real Dodgers, the Brooklyn Dodgers. And if you rooted for the star-crossed denizens of Ebbets Field, you also hated the Yankees. The Yankees were everything that the Dodgers weren’t – successful, organized, methodical, relentless, and inevitable. You knew they were going to win – so what was the point of rooting for them?

Rooting for the Yankees, it was said, was like rooting for U.S. Steel, then a sleek industrial titan, the signifier of America’s world economic dominance.

Steel production remains a useful metric, a quick snapshot of the health, diversity and power of a given country’s manufacturing prowess.

During 1900, the United States produced 37 percent of the world’s steel.

109 years later, the figures look a little different. Earlier this month, the World Steel Association estimated that world production during 2009 amounted to 1,199 million metric tons. China accounted for 47 percent of this total, or 563.5 million tons.

The United States produced 58.1 million tons, less than 5 percent of the world total.

It’s easy enough to manipulate statistics, but such figures tell a simple story.

Some things haven’t changed. The Yankees still dominate baseball – but now rooting for them is like rooting for … China?

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