This is a post that probably won’t be popular with those back in Baltimore or in Boston, but I need to get something off my chest.
I’ve spent the summer in New York City, and have spent time interning in the sports department of a local television station. During that time, I have watched my fair share of Yankees baseball, which, at the beginning of the summer, would have sounded like torture. But two months later, I am no longer a Yankee-hater.
By no means am I a Yankee fan. I grew up hating the Yankees. Remember Jeffrey Maier? I cried during that game. Remember Luis Gonzalez’s World Series winning single in Game 7? I cheered just like any Diamondback fan may have.
But over the last couple of years, I have slowly softened on the Yanks. I can’t say I’m happy about it, but I like to think that I have solid reasoning behind it. My allegiances still lie with the Orioles, but I now want the Yankees to finish in 4th place in the AL East every year, rather than dead last.
So here it is: How I learned to stop worrying and start (not hating) the Yankees.
– The seeds were planted several years ago, when some of my closest friends at school happened to be Yankee fans, including my roomate, Between the Headset’s very own critic, Abfus. They would regularly tell me that it was only a matter of time before I started to root for the Yankees. And while their prophesy has been fortunately unfulfilled, the amount of time I spend listening and watching Yankee stuff, all discussed in such a positive manner (except discussion of A-Rod) laid the groundwork for my current change in feelings.
– Spending two summers on Cape Cod caused me to absolutely despise the Yankees’ biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox. Their fans are obnoxious and many jumped on the bandwagon after the 2004 World Series. My biggest problem with Sox fans is related to the Yankees. Whenever the P.A. announcer would relay MLB scores between innings, the fans would always cheer louder if the Yankees were losing than if their Red Sox were winning. This kind of fandom drives me crazy, and gave me a firsthand look into the perpetual inferiority complex to which Red Sox fans cling. It came off as pretty pathetic, in my opinion, and put the Yankees above the Sox in my book.
– Joe Girardi. The Yankee’s manager is a Northwestern alum, which already gives him major points in my book. But I also have heard him speak, both on television and live during press conferences, and he really seems like a great guy. He is comfortable in front of the media, answers questions that reporters ask honestly and straightforward, and seems to command the respect of his players. Of course, I don’t know what kind of manager he is in the clubhouse, or what the players really think of him, but my impressions of him have been very favorable. Plus, I will always remember watching a teary-eyed Girardi announce the death of Cardinal pitcher Darryl Kile in front of a packed Wrigley Field right before game time.
– EZ Baby brought up a great point the other night- the Yankees have a ton of lovable players on this year’s squad. Even if you don’t like Derek Jeter, which to me is hard to believe, because he doesn’t really have any bad qualities, there are still a bunch of great guys on the team. Mark Teixeira (though I wish he were an Oriole), Mariano Rivera, C.C. Sabathia, Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, Johnny Damon and Robbie Cano are generally guys that fans like. Melky Cabrera, A.J. Burnett, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are also players who fans are not going to boo on a regular basis. Really, the only hated guy on the Yankees is A-Rod.
-Finally, I have gotten over one of the biggest reasons that baseball fans hate the Yankees: their ridiculously high payroll. The defense that Yankee fans use is valid: the team sells out its games and merchandise flies off the shelves. Instead of that money lining the pockets of ownerships, it goes back into the team (though the Steinbrenners are definitely well off). If you want to be angry about it, tell baseball to impose a salary cap. But don’t hate the Yankees for playing by the rules. I wish the Orioles would throw around that kind of money to attract free agents.
Overall, the Yankees are good for baseball. The Yankees sell out many games on the road (even if New York fans takeover the stadium) and cause a buzz that is non-existent in cities like Kansas City, Baltimore and Oakland in August and September. Plus, every league needs to have a villain; a team that is hated by the majority of fans across the country. The NFL has the Patriots, the NBA has the Lakers or Celtics, the NHL has the Red Wings and baseball has the Yankees. It’s more fun to beat those teams than it is a cellar-dweller.
So forgive me, Baltimore fans, for succumbing to the dark side. I promise I won’t be donning the pinstripes anytime soon, but you also won’t hear me roaming the streets of the Bronx shouting “Yankees suck.”
I’ll at least try to come up with something more clever than that.