Okay, now that I have spent my weekend as a Yankee fan and my appetite is finally coming back, let’s talk a little bit about the Yankees.
My grandfather was a Brooklyn Dodger fan. My father was a Brooklyn Dodger fan. I grew up as a Mets fan. I worked for the Baltimore Orioles in 1996 when they lost to the Yankees. I worked for the New York Mets in 2000 when they lost to the Yankees. So, let me not mince words…I hate the Yankees. It’s in my genes. It’s in my broken baseball heart. It’s in every baseball breath I breathe. I hate the Yankees. Navy blue pinstrips chaffe my eyeballs. John Sterling’s voice makes nails on a chalk board sound like Mozart. Derek Jeter at the plate gives me hives. And thank God Paul O’Neil retired.
I hate them. Go ahead, all you Yankee fans, and say it: “You are just jealous.” You are absolutely right. The Yankees are an outstanding team and you cannot argue the numbers. They have won 26 World Championships. 26! That’s nine more Championships than seasons the Marlins and Rockies have existed…14 more than seasons the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays have existed (although, it is nice to know the Yankees have lost the World Series to both the Marlins and Diamondbacks since they last won it). That is one out of every four World Series every played. That’s 26 more Championships than the Cubs have won since the Yankees came into existence.
And the numbers just get worse from there. There have only been 95 World Series played since the New York Highlanders became the Yankees in 1913, meaning that the Yankees have won 28% of those. On top of that, they have won 38 American League Championships meaning that they have played in more than a third of all World Series ever played.
So, Yankee fans, I am a well educated baseball fan and I know that the Yankees are a great team. And yes, I am jealous of that. Yes, I wish the Mets had 26 World Championships under their belt. Yes, I wish that the Brooklyn Dodgers had won more series against the Yankees and been given more of a reason to stay in Brooklyn and not break my father’s heart (and, I guess I would be a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and never know the Mets). Yes, I wish that my 2000 National League Championship ring was a 2000 World Championship ring.
However, I don’t wish I was a Yankees fans…Never have. Never will. If I were a Yankees fan, I would sleep more hours in a night and live the easy baseball life…but, I would be, well, not a Mets fan.
Now that I have paid the Yankees the respect they deserve, let me take the gloves off, like Jeffrey Maier should have in 1996. I have friends that are Yankee fans, and I respect them and their misguided opinions. But I still think the Yankees suck. And so do their fans. Okay, not all their fans and not at a personal level. I just think how they go about being a Yankee fan sucks. There are plenty of Yankee fans out there that followed that team through the 80’s and early 90’s. They wear their Yankee hats during the spring and summer and don’t just dust them off in October and don’t wear them as fashion accessories.
It’s the millions of new Yankee “fans” that mysteriously appear every October that drive me nuts (although not so much of late). They don’t follow the team day in and day out throughout the season. They barely are aware that spring training has started and probably don’t even know where the Yankees hold their spring camp.
To weed out these fans, I have what I call the “Manager Test”. I simply ask an alleged fan who managed the team before Joe Torre. If they manage to get Buck Showalter correct, I then asked them who managed the team before them. That is usually a real Stumper (only true Yankee fans got that reference) and the real fans shake out.
Granted, every team has fans like this when their team is doing well. It’s just that with the Yankees, it is 10 fold and, well, they are more obnoxious and sort of ugly.
Babe Ruth’s curse is not limited to the Red Sox and really isn’t a curse at all. The Bambino’s “curse” is spread thickly throughout the rest of baseball like George Brett’s pine tar. It’s actually a simple explanation. In 1918, the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, a team that had never finished higher than fourth place and who took the back seat to the New York Giants. Ruth went on to dominate his era like no other player ever had. He put the Yankees on the baseball map. He was exciting to watch and fans wanted to come out and see him. They filled the stadium and the money machine started rolling and snowballing and so did the Championships. With that money the Yankees could build Yankee Stadium, scout better and higher the best personnel out there. And the rest of baseball can do nothing else but look up at them…And that is Babe Ruth curse or legacy.
The Red Sox probably haven’t even paid the biggest price for the curse. You might be able to make the case that the fans of the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers paid the biggest price. Yeah, a lot of factors lead to the Dodgers leaving town, most importantly, their inability to pay for a new stadium on their own. Perhaps, if Ruth never went to the Yankees, maybe the Dodgers and Giants win more championships and stay in New York. We will never know, but it’s my opinion that their fans have paid the biggest price.
However, perhaps without the Yankees, baseball never becomes as big as it did. Maybe football jumps out ahead, sooner. Maybe basketball or hockey becomes the national pastime. I can’t downplay the benefit of the Yankees to baseball, but they also hurt baseball dramatically in the small markets.
Maybe I am just a bitter Mets fan. Maybe, I just hate that the Yankees aren’t stuck at 25 championships (meaning that the Mets would have won in 2000). Maybe, I wish the Orioles had beaten them in 1996. Maybe I wish the Yankees had moved to Taiwan.
However, my point is, Yankee fans and media outlets need to know that baseball does not equal the Yankees and the Yankees do not equal baseball. We don’t need constant updates on A-Rod. We would like to see news on our teams, even when the Yankees are playing the Red Sox. Our teams’ histories matters, also.
And, boy, was the 2004 ALCS great, or what!