Friday, August 24, 2007

Don't Hate Me Because I'm a Yankee Fan

There are two types of people in the world, those who love the Yankees and those who hate the Yankees. For the most part, there is no gray area for how people feel about the American League ball club from New York. What always amazes me is just how many people don the blue cap and pinstripes and root whole heartedly for the team, even if they have never stepped foot in New York. Equally remarkable are those who hate the Yankees even if their team of choice never faces them during the season. This nation (if not world) wide passion is especially evident when seeing the Yankees perform in their away uniforms. No matter where I see the boys from the Bronx play, I am surrounded by throngs of fans and haters; forced to defend my loyalty for the team and explain why I am a Yankee fan.

These days, despite the amount of success the Yankees have experienced, it is actually difficult to be a Yankee fan. Try and be taken seriously when their very triumphs and victories become a source of content. First and foremost is the number of fair-weather fans success breeds. Yankee haters verbally attack fans by declaring their allegiance fake; one that jumped on the bandwagon sometime in the early to mid-90s, avoiding the heartbreak of the drought in the 1980s. As a lifelong fan, these people annoy me as well. Chances are they at one point rooted against the Yankees, softening up to the team after a few championship rings. These new fans cast a shadow on those who weathered the storm of failure and stuck with the team during the dark times; they make longtime Yankees fans appear less genuine. You are not a fan unless you survived verbal bashings in 1986 and were forced to root for the hated Boston Red Sox or a comet to hit the stadium and wipe out the teams, anything to avoid a Mets victory. To those who try to mock the length of my loyalty there is only one thing I say; “I am from the Bronx.” Amazing how 5 small words can get people to back off so quickly, like I am packing heat or carrying a crowbar.

Money, and the Yankees use of it, is definitely a major source of contention for Yankee haters. If I had a nickel for each time I heard someone complain about how much money the Yankees spend on their team, I could probably personally purchase the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Yankees do spend a great deal of money for their team and I do not always agree with their business model of purchasing the “best” team rather then building it. Only the people who discover the cure for cancer, how to run a car on water or even the formula for world peace deserve the exorbitant amount of money made by baseball players. Money and greed, today’s centerpiece of professional sports, are ruining the pure joy of the game with the Yankees a focal point of the issue. With this being said money does help build a successful team, but is not the only part of the winning equation; just look at the Baltimore Orioles who spend a ton on their team with abysmal results. There are plenty examples of successful teams with small payrolls and terrible teams with huge payrolls; it takes more then just money to build a successful team. Additionally, teams from smaller markets now benefit from baseball’s revenue sharing model, allowing them larger operating budgets based upon the spending of larger market teams.

Each time the Yankees announce the trade/purchase/acquisition of a big-name player, I cringe. While the team was successful in the past with bringing on superstar players to win titles, there does come a tipping point when this managerial philosophy becomes catastrophic. Baseball is like any business where a team with a diverse range of talents, personalities and backgrounds is the recipe for long-term success. At some point having too many superstars in the boardroom leads to serious organizational issues where competition is no longer friendly and the goals of the team are superseded by the power of the individuals, leading to overall failure. The Yankees failure to appear in the World Series the past few years and win one since 2000 demonstrates that money does not necessarily buy happiness and too many cooks may have spoiled the Yankees proverbial broth.

The revolving door of players also brings difficulty to following professional sports. Baseball is just not the same without the ability to cling to a player for their career, following them from farm league to hall of fame. There is almost a need to keep players at “arms length,” developing distant relationships to avoid the heartbreak of their trade. On the flip side, the deep rooted hatred for opposing teams and their players, the keystone to any good rivalry, makes it quite difficult to embrace certain players when they are suddenly on your team. To me, Roger Clemens is still a Red Sox, no matter how many World Series rings he helps the Bronx Bombers win. It is hard to be truly passionate about a team like the Yankees when the roster is full of people who once were the object of distain.

Despite all my concern around the Yankees they are still my team. The Yankees have an amazing history filled with triumph and tragedy. True Yankee fans are among the nation’s best, with an unparalleled understanding of the game, the history, and fan etiquette. I was born in pinstripes, mere miles from the stadium affectionately known as “The Bronx Zoo.” I support and root for my favorite team, but acknowledge their role in forever changing baseball from an enjoyable game to a cut-throat business. History shows that dynasties topple without a balance of power, money, popularity and fair leadership; hopefully Yankees management, players and fans understand what it takes to maintain their position Major League Baseball’s greatest dynasty.


Michelle said...

That is the cutest picture I've ever seen. Why does it make me think "Bad News Bears"?

Explosive Bombchelle said...

My very own baseball card, circa 1986, from Baseball and Boardwalk (formeraly circus world, now where the Royals play spring training). According to the stats on the card, I have grown about 7 inches and about 85 pounds. At least I still bat righty...

Alex said...

Those stats were from your light-hitting middle infielder days. You've just developed some power, that's all. Besides, chicks dig the long ball. :)

I'll echo (in advance) the sentiments of 'husband': If you're from New York, it's ok to be a Yankees fan. If you're from a city/state that doesn't have a professional baseball team, it's also ok to be a Yankees fan. Anyone else is fair game for ridicule.

And forget the Orioles, look at how much Boston is spending. They shouldn't get a free pass for that, either...

NeeNee said...

Unfortunately I am the one Trombetta not born in the Bronx, but I was born with the Bronx attitude. I literally giggled out loud when you wrote packing heat.

I will always be a Yankee fan. That will never change. I always have to defend myself and prove I am not a "front runner" it's really annoying.

I do not always agree about the players they tend to go after, but still have to back up the pinstripes. And yes I was only 6 in 1986, but I remember being mad the Mets won the world series, and having to root for another team we could not stand. As my favorite T-shirt stated "I root for two teams, the Yankees, and anyone who plays the Mets"

And as for your stats I remember all the roids you did in Middle school

John said...

I suppose this is where a die-hard Red Sox fan should chime in. I agree with your assessment on what the Yankees have done to the game and the Red Sox, while about $50 million behind in payroll, don't help matters either when they give someone like J.D. Drew $14 million a year. And the Red Sox and Yankees aren't completely to blame as they have contributed the most to the revenue sharing plan. When a team gets $23 million and doesn't put it towards improving their team (I'm talking to you, Pittsburgh Pirates), that's the owner's fault.

What bothers me is the number of people jumping on the bandwagon known as "Red Sox Nation". Since the Red Sox won the Series in 2004, Red Sox "fans" have been popping up everywhere, especially at away games. While all these fans go out and buy jerseys, hats, t-shirts, etc. that just add to Sox income and allow them to buy great players, these people are also turning the Red Sox into the Yankees. I read recently that Boston is actually drawing more fans at away games than any other team, including the Yankees. A large amount of these people are true Sox fans that cannot get tickets or afford tickets at Fenway Park. Baltimore is a prime example. Anyone watching the recent Boston-Baltimore series would think the games were actually being played in Boston. In fact, it's cheaper for someone to get two tickets to a game at Camden Yards and hop on a Southwest flight than to buy tickets in Boston. In my case back in May, I wanted to see the Sox play in another city (while visiting Michelle at the same time). But the other portion of these fans have hopped on the bandwagon. There were a lot of Red Sox fans at those games in Minnesota and I would guess a good percentage of them are not lifelong fans. One columnist even wrote recently that the Red Sox were becoming the new "America's Team". I absolutely hate this. The Sox have gone from lovable losers that most people (except Yankees fans) were pulling for to win the Series to becoming a team people either love or hate. They are becoming the Yankees. Quite frankly, it sucks.

In addressing the whole bandwagon phenomenon, I do think it is possible to cheer for another team if you are not from that city and your city does have a team. However, there are guidelines...such as how old you were, how long you've been a fan, whether you stuck with that team. I am from RI and I am a 49ers fan. My love for the team started when I was about 7 years old. I've enjoyed 3 Super Bowl titles since I've been a fan. I've also stuck by them during their 1-15 and 2-14 rebuilding years. Twenty-two years later I still have to tell people I'm not going to switch to the Patriots, no matter where I live or how good the Patriots are.

I probably got a bit off-topic here. Sorry about that.

husband said...

bah... darn no good alex... I've got nothing to say now! ok, that's not true.

I don't think it is too many cooks on the Yankees... it's the curse of Don Mattingly!

Gold Gloves
Mattingly - 9
Hrbek - 0

World Championships
Mattingly - 0
Hrbek - 2

Sweet Justice!!!

Nursedude said...

I can totally understand how a native New Yorker can love the Yankees. What kills me are Native Midwesterners who are Yankee- and Dallas Cowboy fans. It IS fun to root against the Yankees. That said, I get really tired of the Red Sox trying to pass themsleves off as the Little Guy-the Red Sox are just the Yankees without all of the titles and pennants-but they have a hefty pocketbook. Do not confuse the Red Sox with small market teams like the Twins or Brewers.
As a side note, I went to a Yankee game with my son Ian two years ago and we had a BALL in the seats with the Bleacher Creatures. New York fans are VERY knowledgeable sports fans-much more than Minnesotans. They are WAY more creative with their insults rather than the lame "yankees suck" you hear at the Dome when the Yanks come to town.

John said...

There has been no "we can't keep up with the Yankees" talk for a couple of years now with the Red Sox, at least not from management. We still have a payroll about $50 million less than New York, but since we've narrowed the gap that Little Guy talk has dropped off. They still have a monster payroll, but they've used their money a bit more wisely than the Yankees (at least this year).

Explosive Bombchelle said...

I guess there are many other teams whose fans are annoyed by the bandwagoners. I bet more people who are Yankee fans have been to NY then out of state Cowboys fans have been to Dallas.

And I like to think the Yankees are supplementing social security by paying and playing all the old guys in the league this year.