Tigers eliminate Yankees
Photo by Bethany on Flickr
Sounds like a dumb question, doesn’t it? Everyone knows they have the most money, the winningest history, and the most celebrated group of players. They are expected to be competitive every year, and the players and the fans seem to assume as much. The owner is often depicted as a crazy and controlling boss. These days, at least outside of Bronx, it seems difficult to find someone willing to admit that they are a Yankee fan, or even that they don’t hate the team. The default reaction from ordinary fans of baseball when they hear of Yankees has become a mixture of contempt and disapproval.
I, for one, never fully understood why all the things listed above meant that the Yankees are evil, and deserve to be hated by everyone. Sure, they have the most money, so that allows them to lure the best players with huge contracts. But that’s because they earned it, no? The Yankees play by the same rules, however full of holes those rules might be. Sure, they’re lucky to be in one of the biggest markets in the country. But a quick look at other sports will tell you that it is in fact possible to have a dynasty-level team in cities other than New York (e.g. LA Lakers, Dallas Cowboys, SF 49ers).
Their history is something different — something other teams can’t necessarily attain easily, no matter how much money they might come up with. But isn’t this something that should be respected by fans who appreciate the sport? While every sport has a dynasty team that’s both revered and hated, the balance with the Yankees always seems to tilt towards hatred, instead of reverence of what they have accomplished. I’m sure big contracts have a lot to do with their ability to acquire big-name players, but the history factor is also huge, in my opinion. The players know, the minute they become a Yankee, they will be booed everywhere they go outside of Bronx. I think what motivates them besides the money is the chance to play for the most famous team in the world. I don’t care if you’re the punkest band in the world — if you had a chance to play at Carnegie Hall, you would take it, the fan opinions be damned.
Someone at work told me that what you think about the Yankees determines if you’re an elitist or a populist. I disagree — I don’t like to think of myself as an elitist, just because I don’t question the general consensus that the one who seems to have it all is automatically bad. I feel like I’m a populist because in the end I see all teams to be equal (or having equal opportunities), and for most part you should root for whatever team for whatever reasons you feel like, without worrying about how others might label you. I say “for most part” because I do think you should be consistent and principled in your rooting ways. For example, I know someone who would root for all three Carolina basketball teams (Duke, Wake Forest, UNC), sometimes switching during the same year. Or, I understand that you don’t need much of a reason to hate the Yankees if you’re a Red Sox fan. But most people out there should have their own reason for liking or disliking a team, instead of easily giving into the more-money-equals-evil convention.
To prove that the Yankees are not as dominant as people think — they just got eliminated in the playoffs, making 2006 the sixth consecutive season without a World Series title, and third consecutive without an American League pennant. According to their entry in Wikipedia, they are way behind their normal schedule of a WS win every 3.9 seasons, and an AL pennant every 2.8 seasons. I would say you are a hypocritical elitist if that doesn’t get you to rise up in full support of the Yankees!