Let me preface this article by reiterating the fact that this is coming from a seasoned Yankee hater.
Unlike most bandwagon Yankee haters, my disdain for the Evil Empire was born out of repeated post-season defeats in the most formative years of my fanhood (see the Seattle Mariners 2000 and 2001 ALCS losses to the Yankees).
I reveal this information to dispel any assertion that this article is written out of favoritism towards the New York Yankees.
That being said, let’s get cut to the chase.
In the first inning of Friday's Mariners-Yankees game, Seattle Mariners fans did what nearly every other baseball stadium outside of the Bronx has grown accustomed to; they booed Yankees team captain Derek Jeter, who was the leadoff batter.
While I have no qualms with booing the New York Yankees (in fact, I encourage such behavior), I am hesitant to boo Derek Jeter.
Let me explain why.
Reasons Not to Boo Derek Jeter
For those who disagree, and consequently support booing Derek Jeter, ask yourselves the following question: Why do I hate the New York Yankees?
The answer almost undoubtedly rests upon the Yankees aggressive financial dealings and arrogant ownership.
This can be phrased a million ways. I hate the Steinbrenners, the Yankees just buy all the best players in baseball, and the Yankees payroll is unfair to the game of baseball are examples, but the core idea remains the same.
While hatred for the Yankees financial endeavors is certainly legitimate (it certainly contributes to my own hatred for the pinstripes), I struggle to shift hatred to Derek Jeter based on such.
Derek Jeter was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1992. To give this some context, he was the sixth selection in the draft (which tells you how the Yankees had played the prior season).
At the time Jeter was drafted, the Yankees had not made the playoffs since a 1981 World Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While Jeter undoubtedly plays for a Yankees team that buys up every top-shelf free agent it can, it's unfair in my opinion to assign this trait to a player who was drafted nearly 20 years ago and came up through the Yankees system.
When Booing Derek Jeter Makes Sense
For the reasons stated above, I have a difficult time understanding why opposing team's fans pick Derek Jeter out of the Yankees lineup as the player to harass. There are times, however, when booing Derek Jeter is perfectly understandable.
First, booing Derek Jeter makes sense if the fans decide to simply boo anyone affiliated with the Yankees. Most people who boo Derek Jeter do so under the belief that Jeter represents the New York Yankees, therefore he should be booed.
If fans are going to adhere to this philosophy (booing players based on hatred for the Yankees) then they need to be consistent in doing so.
Ironically, the two hitters who followed Jeter on Friday night, Yankee stars Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira, received little to no fan response as they were announced over the PA.
Had the fans taken it upon themselves to boo Damon and Teixeira as aggressively as Jeter, then their actions would have been legitimate, as the fans would have clearly been booing Yankee players in general, not just Derek Jeter.
Second, booing Derek Jeter makes sense if it's coming from his most hated rivals. Fans of division rivals have every reason in the world to boo Derek Jeter. Why not? He plays for their mortal enemies...
This article isn't aimed at Red Sox fans who boo Derek Jeter, because that makes perfect sense. Instead, it is aimed at the majority of Major League Baseball stadiums which have developed the habit of booing Jeter (and only Jeter).
Booing Alternatives for Yankee Haters
While this article is defending the face of the New York Yankees franchise, it is in no way defending the Yankees themselves.
While I am encouraging fans to show Derek Jeter the respect he has earned throughout his career, I have no problem giving a green light to booing other prominent Yankees.
Boo Alex Rodriguez!
Boo A-Rod because of his ridiculous contract. Boo him for the ridiculous photo shoot he did earlier this year, because he could probably have his pick of the women in New York, and because he exercised this power to nail Madonna (weak).
Boo A-Rod because he is a traitor. He not only sold out the Mariners for a quarter of a billion dollars, but did so for the Rangers.
Boo A-Rod because of steroids. He cheated, he was caught, he admitted to a few years use, and let's be honest, he probably used a lot more.
Boo Johnny Damon!
Boo Johnny Damon because he pulled the biggest backstab in baseball history. Period. Boo him because he helped bring a championship to Boston for the first time in a century and promptly threw the fan base under the proverbial bus.
Boo Mark Teixeira! Boo Mark Teixeira for being so damn good. I mean seriously, who doesn't want a switch-hitting, power-hitting, excellent fielding first baseman?
Boo Teixeira for leading on the Red Sox, and any other team chasing him. In fact, boo him for even entertaining the Washington Nationals. When an article asserts a "tough decision" between the Nationals and Red Sox, you know it must be fiction.
Boo Mark Teixeira for adding to the Evil Empire, cashing his enormous paychecks, and probably leading the New York Yankees to their first World Series in almost a decade...
I know I will catch some heat for defending Mr. Yankee, but I feel that someone needs to address Jeter being thrown under the bus along with the rest of the Yankees.
Sure, Jeter can be a little over-the-top sometimes. Yes, the fist pump annoys me, and yes, sometimes that jump throw is completely unnecessary. In fact, some Yankee Haters have provided as many as a hundred reasons to hate Derek Jeter.
Derek Jeter has been a class act since entering baseball. He may not be the most talented hitter or the most talented fielder, but he has been a poster boy for consistency in his time in the league.
If you want to hate the Yankees, by all means do so. I'm not stopping you. But next time you wish to express this hatred, take it out on a player who actually stands for what you hate about the Evil Empire.