Everyone hates the New York Yankees.
As famous columnist Mike Royko once said:
"Hating the Yankees is as American as pizza pie, unwed mothers, and cheating on your income tax."
The Yankees are so evil that in the play Damn Yankees the main character sells his soul to the devil to help beat them.
You don't get to be called the "Evil Empire" without doing something wrong. After all, the Yankees' high-spending, relentless ways have spawned a hate that is unmatched in professional sports.
The Yanks do have 27 World Series titles, and possess names such as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Jackson, Jeter and Rivera. And that's just to name a few.
The Yankees have the biggest budget and the biggest stars. They have a fancy, expensive new stadium that caters to the rich and powerful and can sometimes sound more like a library than like a baseball stadium.
They had a bombastic owner in George Steinbrenner who was often a larger figure than some of his players. His son, Hal Steinbrenner, has largely taken over since his death.
Those 27 championships could be a source of some jealously. It is the most in professional sports. They are always a contender.
They can also buy championships. This was a big criticism during the 2009 championship season, when the Yanks shelled out big bucks to sign CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira. That was in addition to big contracts given to Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and about half of the roster.
But the games are played on the field, not in the balance sheets and even though they have spent a lot, they still win the games when they count.
And a lot of the players on the team have been homegrown. Let's take the 2012 roster. Some notable home grown players are:
- Derek Jeter
- Mariano Rivera
- Andy Pettitte
- Robinson Cano
- Brett Gardner
- David Robertson
- Phil Hughes
- Ivan Nova
That's an impressive list. While the Yankees have had a reputation of trading young stars in exchange for aging veterans, they do manage to hold onto enough youngsters to make it work.
The Yankees, especially in recent years, have done a good job of developing youth and adding stars in free agency. Those stars, as opposed to the past years, are not aging.
But haters tend to focus on a few things. One is that the Yankees spend too much money.
And that's true. Spending upwards of $20 million each on multiple players is ludicrous. But that's how the game works. There is no salary cap and the Yankees, by playing in the largest media market and having a ton of fans, have a lot of money. And they're willing to spend it. So while baseball might be rigged towards the richer teams, that's not the fault of the Yankees.
Another complaint is that the Yankees are just too corporate.
There's some truth to that. No one on the Yankees is allowed to have anything more than a mustache. They don't look like they have so much fun. It's an uptight culture. But in that corporate environment, the Yankees do exude class.
Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are class acts, as are Andy Pettitte and Mark Teixeira. While A-Rod gets a lot flack, he's just one of 25. Joe Girardi, and Joe Torre before him, were both classy. In that class, they aren't bombastic or even annoying.
Of course, that corporate style can lead to a lot of hate. As Jimmy Breslin said in Can't Anybody Play the Game:
"You see, the Mets are losers, just like nearly everybody else in life. This is the team for the cab driver who gets held up and the guy who loses out on a promotion because he didn't maneuver himself to lunch with the boss enough. It is the team for every guy who has to get out of bed in the morning and go to work for short money on a job he does not like. The Yankees? Who does well enough to root for them, Laurence Rockefeller?"
The new stadium requires a small fortune to get into. It's no accident that the seats behind home plate are often empty. The stadium is both an argument for and against modern capitalism. For those who can afford it, it's terrific. For those who can't, which, sadly, is becoming most Americans, it's just an insult.
So by extension, the Yankees are insulting the modern man. As Breslin said, no one really can afford to root for the Yankees.
But once again, the Yankees are just taking advantage of the system. The new stadium was proposed and built before the recession; the Yanks, like everyone else, did not see the recession coming. And even still, the games are mostly sold out. People will pay.
A lot of the hatred towards the Yankees is just plain jealously. The Yankees have all the titles. The Yankees have all the money. The Yankees have all the stars.
And that jealously is warranted. Twenty-eight titles is a lot. No baseball team is close.
But the money argument is just silly. Teams like the Angels, the Red Sox and Mets are all capable of spending big money and have. The Angels went on a huge spending spree this past offseason, as they signed Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson.
There might be reason to hate the Yanks. You might be a Red Sox fan, and it might be ingrained in your blood. You might be against their free-spending ways.
But the Yankees play within the rules. Yes, their positioning in New York might be an advantage. But they use that advantage effectively. Twenty-eight titles shows you just that.
The Yankees will always be hated. There's no way to change that. But, perhaps if fans took a step back and realized that's in all in the game, then they might hate just a little less. After all, don't hate the player, hate the game.