If you've read Biblical Conservatism over the past two plus years, you know that in addition to fighting for Conservative values and loving the Lord Jesus Christ, I'm also a die-hard New York Mets fan. Because of that, I often have to deal with Yankee fans and their obnoxiousness. This is especially true this past week, since my Mets swept the Yankees in a 4 game series (BOOYA) and my subsequent interactions with Yankee fans came back to the below routine.
My best friend is a Yankee fan (albeit not an obnoxious one -- dude this post isn't directed at you). Several other friends are Yankee fans. I've had to hear their usual responses whenever the Yankees are criticized:
Oh, and don't forget my favorite Yankee line:
Which leads me to ask, along with Mr. Condescending Willy Wonka:
Yankee fans love to discuss those 27 Rings. They also like to mention how the next closest team (the St. Louis Cardinals) has a mere 11 Championships.
They don't particularly like to mention that 4 of those rings where when Babe Ruth played, 6 were when Lou Gehrig played, 9 where when Joe DiMaggio played and 7 while Mickey Mantle played (there is some crossover). That means 20 of the 27 titles were won BEFORE 1962. (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, that means 20 of those titles are over 50 years old.)
Speaking of 50 years old, when 20 of those 27 titles were won, Major League Baseball only consisted of 16 teams. Now, Major League Baseball has 32 teams.
Now to the last 50 years and the 7 championships the Yankees have won since Expansion. Seven is fairly impressive for 50 years, but it's not as impressive as that 27 they love to talk about. It is the most in the last 50 years, but not by a whole lot. The St. Louis Cardinals have won five rings in the last 50 years. The Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers have won four each and the Cincinnati Reds have won three.
What about the last ten years? Considering that's the time frame when a lot of the active players were playing? Well, in the last ten years, the mighty Yankees have won only one championship. In that same decade, the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox have each won two.Why does this matter? Well, just in case you were confused, neither Babe Ruth, nor Lou Gehrig, nor Joe DiMaggio, nor Mickey Mantle, nor Yogi Berra, nor Reggie Jackson are currently on the team's roster, so their accomplishments mean precisely squat here in 2013, thus those "27 Rings" mean precisely squat.
What about the (correct) accusation that the Yankees buy championships? Many a Yankee fan has told me that "you can't discount the Yankees championships before free agency...they didn't buy THOSE players!"
For one, the Yankees bought LOTS of players before Free Agency entered in 1976. They just didn't buy those players from other teams:
Famously, the Yankees bought Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox for $100,000 (adjusted for inflation that's over $1.3 Million). They bought Joe DiMaggio from the minor league San Francisco Seals (over $400,000 adjusted for inflation). They bought Roger Maris from the Kansas City Athletics. These are just a few examples.
Let's also not confuse the ability to retain talent as free agents with "not buying players." Just because you are a player's original team, it doesn't mean that signing them for a ten year, $189 Million contract isn't buying a team. (If you don't think so, ask Billy Beane, who would have found his team in better shape if he could have afforded to resign Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi?) Ultimately, spending money on the best players (whether they are currently on your roster or not), to win is buying a ballclub.
A friend of mine likes to argue that the Yankees HAVE the money, therefore he has no problem with them USING the money. While that may be a fair enough assessment (ignoring of course the reality that a good deal of that money comes from selling different color Yankee hats to gang members as symbols of allegiance -- not to mention people who buy a Yankee hat because P. Diddy wears one and they don't give a rip about baseball), it misses the fact that baseball is hurt in the competitive market of Entertainment.
Baseball competition in a financial sense is not just the Yankees vs. the Red Sox and the Reds vs. the Marlins. It's Major League Baseball (MLB) competing for the entertainment dollar of Americans. They compete at different times with the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL) and other less popular (in America) professional sports like soccer and lacrosse. MLB also is in competition with movies, live theater, Six Flags and Disney World and other amusement parks, Chuck E. Cheese, concerts, and so many other choices that Americans make on where to spend their entertainment dollars.
I think part of the reason the NFL is so popular (among other reasons) is the fact that no matter how poorly your team played last year, the parity due to the salary cap means that same team could win the Super Bowl this year. In MLB it takes a long time for a team to build up a solid enough team to compete with the financial powerhouses...and it lasts for one or two years before those developed players are lost to free agency since teams like the Tampa Rays can't afford to spend to keep their players like the Yankees can. The lack of parity means that fans in Tampa often will choose to spend their money on tickets to see the Buccaneers in stead of the Rays because the Bucs could become a winning team THIS YEAR. The Yankees overspending hurts the rest of baseball.
Which brings us to the final line that Yankee Fans will bring up once confronted with the above statements: "You're just jealous!" Actually, no. No I am not jealous. It turns out that expecting a championship every year and not getting it and thus being disappointed at not winning is in fact NOT as enjoyable as winning one every couple of decades or so, because the specialness is ruined.
Let me give you an example. My grandmother makes, by far, the World's most delicious lasagna. I have tried many other people's attempts at that dish and Gram's is THE BEST. She has offered to give me the recipe. I've declined. Why, you may ask? Because I want enjoying her lasagna to be a special experience.
I feel the same way about my teams winning championships. In 2003 the Syracuse Orangemen won the NCAA Basketball National Championship. It was one of the top ten best days of my life. I spent fourteen years of my life loving that team and following it passionately. Those fourteen years, including one heartbreaking NCAA Finals loss in 1996, all lead up to winning that title in 2003. Since then, I've seen the Orange succeed to various degrees including winning the Big East Conference twice and going to the Final Four this past season. Every year, the farther we get the greater my hope arises, but no win. They are an elite team, and it is likely they will win the title again...and that day it will again be very, very special. To date, I've waited ten years to see a second title.
Championships are meant to be special and certainly not annually expected. Not only does the specialness of winning become depleted by constantly winning, it makes the fans of said team huge jerks about it.
With your average Yankee fan, your best bet is to either a) walk away or b) distract them somehow. Throwing a tennis ball often works, as the Yankee fan will immediately go to retrieve it...jogging back sputtering about 27 Championships. Also showing them some sort of a shiny object helps. Ultimately, if you choose to have Yankee fans in your life, I suppose it's your own fault that you have to deal with them.
This post is designed to be humorous and not to be taken seriously AT ALL. If you are a Yankee fan, I sincerely hope you recognize the fun meant in this post. If you do not, you may want to reconsider how seriously you take your sports fandom. No Yankee fans or Yankee players were harmed in the writing of this post.