Listed just below "No Gambling" in the theoretical MLB 101 textbook is the game's second sacred rule:
"All non-Yankee fans must HATE the Yankees."
The reasons for this universal animosity are clear-cut, and can be broadly grouped into two categories.
"Well, if we had the money to buy players, we would win championships every year too."
I hear witty barbs like this one on a daily basis from fans of small-market clubs. Sorry Pirates and Royals fans—you have no leg to stand on here.
Not only do your owners refuse to spend your hard-earned and loyally-paid money—they also pocket the millions of luxury-tax dollars they receive from teams like the Yankees and Red Sox.
Yankee-haters have no right to fault George Steinbrenner for investing his earnings in the betterment of the organization. Instead, they should be pointing the finger at their own miserly owners.
2. Disdain for fans
"All Yankee fans are uneducated, spoiled front-runners."
Another comment I hear frequently. Too bad this bold claim makes even less sense than the first one.
Ironic that the same people who hate Steinbrenner without knowing a thing about the luxury tax are the ones calling Yankee fans uneducated. As for the "spoiled" claim—please learn your history, folks.
Yes, the Yankees have won 26 world championships...but do you remember the Bombers pre-1995? There were some ugly seasons in the 80s and 90s, but the fanbase stayed loyal. And while younger fans haven't experienced as much hardship, the 2004 postseason had a decade's worth of pain it it.
Finally, if there's one thing that New York fans are NOT, it's front-runners. Look at some of the other teams in the New York area. The Jets and Giants drag their fans through the mud every year, and there's no tougher team to love for than the Rangers.
It may seem pretty easy to root for the Yankees, but New Yorkers suffer just as much as anyone else.
As for the actual team—the 2008 Yankees project to be far different than what you're used to.
Gone, it seems, are the days of fielding an All-Star at every position. In 2008, the Yankees aim to reduce their payroll and prepare for the future. If you don't believe me, look at this potential 2008 starting lineup:
First Base—Andy Phillips
Second Base—Robinson Cano
Third Base—Alex Rodriguez (maybe)
Rotation: Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain, Philip Hughes, Andy Pettitte, Ian Kennedy
Closer: Mariano Rivera
Clearly, the emphasis here is on homegrown talent instead of free-agent acquisitions. In fact, 10 of these players came up through the Yankees farm system—further discrediting those critics who claim that the Bombers "buy players and championships."
Even when the Yankees might have been guilty of attempting to "buy" title, they were obviously unsuccessful. Only after the Yankees won their last World Series in 2000 did their payroll begin to truly expand.
In the years since the 2000 season, most World Series champions have been small-market teams.
Except, of course, for the Red Sox.