The first step in a Twelve Step Program is to admit that you have a problem. It has been a long hard road filled with a lot of denial, but I can finally admit to myself today, that I am a Yankee hater. Just saying it feels as if a load has been lifted off of my back. This has been a hard realization to come to, but seeing how Jonathan Papelbon was treated in New York last night caused me to finally reconcile my feelings on the subject.
I consider myself a baseball fan, as much as I can be having chosen the Texas Rangers as the team that I root for. However, in considering myself a fan of the game, I have found it difficult to place my hatred appropriately on the Yankees. I mean, how can you hate Babe Ruth? How can you hate Lou Gehrig? How can you hate Mickey Mantle? I really can’t. So, I have decided to compartmentalize my hatred of the Yankees. Though he is not the absolute reason that I hate the Yankees, I will use George Steinbrenner as the delineator of my hatred. I will choose to respect the Yankees and the great players who played for them up until Steinbrenner purchased the club, and choose to hate the Yankees and the players who have played for the ball club since then.
So, why do I hate the Yankees? I asked myself the same question, and came up with a lot of things that I hate about them. Then I asked myself what do I like about them, and the only thing I came up with was their old great players. There was really nothing from the past 35 years to like about them, so I admitted to myself, and now I admit to you that I really don’t like the Yankees.
Most of my hatred for the Yankees is generated through media bias. The Eastern media that controls much of the sports information in this country never fails to prostrate itself at the foot of the Yankees. The Yankees are never criticized for the money that they spend (more on this when I get to the A-Rod part of the post). The Yankees could be in last place, and they would still be in the first 15 minutes of Sportscenter. I have missed compelling Ranger’s games, and turned to Sportcenter for a recap only to have to wait 52 minutes for the five second mention of the Ranger’s game if it is mentioned at all.
Yankee management and their fans have such a sense of entitlement (which the media also promotes) that it makes me ill. The owner and management of the team continually overreact. If the Yankees are not in first place, obviously someone has to be fired,…today.
Every year either ESPN or SI will do an article about the best fans in sports or baseball in particular. Yankee fans are often at the top of these lists. The viewing public is continually reminded how smart the fans in New York are, especially when compared with fans in other parts of the country. If this is the case, why is it Yankee fans that screw up and grab a ball that is in play? And, if Yankee fans are so smart, why do they fall for disingenuous articles that are printed in newspapers with the sole purpose of causing them to make asses of themselves which they inevitably do.
This brings us to last night’s All Star Game. Jonathan Papelbon made the horrible mistake of suggesting that he, as a closer, would not be afraid to close the All Star Game. A sorry New York newspaper suggested that Papelbon was saying that he should close the game instead of Mariano Rivera. So, these great New York fans take it upon themselves to verbally assault Papelbon and his pregnant wife during the parade on the way to the game. Very nice. Then these genius fans decide to boo him and chant against him when he came in to pitch. Never mind the fact that he was pitching for the American League. Idiots. What a sense of entitlement they must have. It was absolutely right for Papelbon as a closer in the major leagues to want to close the game. Considering the fact that Terry Francona (the Boston Manager) was the American League manager for the game, it would have been absolutely appropriate for him to choose to honor his own player over a player from another team. It was his call, and if I had been in his place, I would have left Papelbon in for the ninth to teach the Yankee fans a lesson about treating my player that way after I had gone out of my way to honor Rivera by putting Papelbon into the game in the eighth inning.
Yes, I have my reasons, but the biggest one is A-Rod. Being a Rangers fan, I have suffered through decades of bad baseball. Longtime Ranger fans know well what it is like to be frustrated with ownership that wants to win on the cheap. Finally, Tom Hicks bought the team, and we had an owner that was willing to spend some money to make the team better (at that time). Several times when the Rangers went after a player in the past, they went to New York, even when the Rangers were offering more money. Why wouldn’t they go and play for a team that would still play them well, and would also pay every other position on the field well? The Yankees routinely have All Stars or ex-All Stars at every position. This makes a player look even better, and gives them a better chance to win a pennant or World Series.
The Rangers wanted to compete with this. One way of doing this was to pay what it took to get a good player on their roster. This would have a three-fold benefit. They would get a very good player. They would show other players that they were serious, and willing to pay what it took to win. And finally, having a great player on their roster like A-Rod would entice other players to want to join a club that had players of his caliber on their roster.
There was a high upside to paying the $25,000,000 a year salary to A-Rod at the time, that is until the eastern media lost their collective minds over the fact that an upstart team like the Rangers- that definitely was not the Yankees- would have the gall to sign a player to such a deal. The general negative attitude that was expressed toward the A-Rod deal, both nationally, and unfortunately locally, eventually soured the fans, A-rod and the Rangers. Then where does he go? New York, of course, on the Rangers dime, that was until they decided to pay him even more, but no one in the eastern media had anything negative to say about that. That was because it was the Yankees paying out a big contract this time, and that was OK. Best of all, Tom Hicks had his hand slapped and learned that he was not allowed to play the salary game with the big boys.
Through the years, as a Dallas Cowboy fan, I have enjoyed hating the Redskins, the Eagles and the 49ers. I’ve never really had a team to hate (other than the White Sox while Robin Ventura played for them). Now, I find it liberating as a baseball fan to embrace my hatred of the Yankees, and realize that I actually have a baseball team to root against.
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