Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What It Means to be a Yankee Fan: A Heartfelt Complaint

Before I gather steam and start annoying everyone on the planet, I want to take a moment to re-visit some of the responses from yesterday's "most hateable Red Sock" post. Aside from the comments section, I got some feedback sent my way via e-mail, and there were a lot of good points made. Here were my three favorites:

Brian (Red Sox fan): "your hatred of Beckett is borderline obsessive."

After reading some recent posts, I have to admit that this is probably true. I'm not trying to run from who I am, gang. Embrace the variety. In our convo, Brian asked if I hated Beckett even more than Pedro (yes) or Mo Vaughn (double yes), and then gave up on me.

Most of the other comments I received centered on two topics. First, that I had underestimated Papelbon's hateability. Second, and more pressing, that I had given Schilling a huge break in the 'origins' category.

Carrie (Red Sox fan): I'd give Alaska and Arizona a "respectable" maybe three years ago, but those two states' hateability quotient has really been on the rise in the past few years.

Also, Texas gave us Tim Riggins, so I think that the whole "Origins" category may need reconsideration. Or an X-Men Movie made about it.

That is one hell of a point about Tim Riggins. Texas also gave us Andy Pettitte, a fact I conveniently ignored. The Arizona theme was expounded upon by Spike...

Spike (Mariners fan): I'd recheck your math Ryan
Schilling is from Arizona and Alaska
you know who else is from Arizona and Alaska?
McCain/Palin-- the original mavericks
Immigration policy
ability to view russia
the heat
the cold
miserable miserable places that are ruining this country
states that came on board late and are fucking toxic
which moves him into a tie with Beckett
just saying
I'm glad that you cleared up the Papelbon hate train being too strong
but still
Beckett and Schilling is not cut and dried

Now, let's be clear- Spike is taking a hard line. Not only does he want to take Schilling to task for his home states' politics (after we already punished him in the Politics section), but he wants to punish him for the weather, too. But the "ability to view Russia" line made me laugh out loud, as did the "states that came on board late" part. If there's one thing I like, it's extreme attitudes and decisions, and upping Schilling's score because of weather, geography, history, and other things he can't control is right up my alley. I wasn't able to get Spike's opinion on whether Papelbon, hailing from Louisiana, should gain hateability points for Katrina or the Deep Horizon spill, but I'll try to clear that up today.

So, if we gave Schilling a 10 of 10 on origins, as Spike points out, that moves him into a tie with Beckett for the most hateable man of all time. And if we subtract a point from Beckett's Texas score because of Tim Riggins and Pettitte, that would give us a new winner. However, much like a mythical national championship in college football, this one will have live on as a controversial debate among academics. The decision has been made, the calculators are stored back in their cool, hermetically sealed compartments, and Beckett will be publicly stoned the minute I have any power in this country.

Now, on to my main point. The last two Yankee games have been absolutely brutal. Following the 2-1 loss to Boston on Monday (a nail-in-the-coffin game, no less) and yesterday's extra innings loss in Texas, I'm feeling kinda moody. I don't care about losing close games- it happens- but when we have runners on base and in scoring position and fail to capitalize over and over, it makes me want to throw things (at my girlfriend). There have been many culprits, including Derek Jeter, who struck out with the bases loaded and one out against Boston, but the results are always the same.

The worst part is that these games are simulations of the playoffs. Boston may not make it, but Texas certainly will, and you never want to establish a short history of losing to those teams in tight games before the postseason comes. It's no good.

But here's where you might start to hate me:

Being a Yankee fan means being optimistic. Don't get me wrong; we can be as negative as anybody when talking about our team. But deep down, we expect to win. Right or wrong, that's just how it goes. We're like little kids who started rooting for a team, watched them win a title the first three years, and started to assume that a title happens every year. So when we lose a close game, it's sort of mystifying and confusing. Wait, wait...why didn't we win?

Now, in our first Sunday Bull Session, Spike and the rest of us had this exchange:

Nick: I hate Boston fans of every kind.
Can we all agree on that?
Spike: I had a pats fan try to sell me on their recent super bowl loss being worse than the Seahawks because, "once you know what it's like to win, it's really hard not to."
me: oh god
wirivers: Die

I'm not going to do that to you. I'm not going to say it's any worse for Yankee fans when our team loses. That would be ridiculous. But it is different. History has taught us that over the long haul, the Yankees will emerge victorious more often than night. And believe me, this attitude was way worse in 2003. It peaked right after Aaron Boone's home run in game 7 against the Sox. After that improbable win, it really seemed like we couldn't lose. The entitlement, arrogance, and outrageous self-belief reached a critical zenith. The next five years brought us back down to earth, but after the 2009 season, when almost every close game went our way, and we witnessed walk-off after walk-off en route to another World Series, the absurdly optimistic Yankee fan is alive and well.

So if you could put my emotions after a close loss into a little soliloquy, it might look like this:

DAMN YOU. DAMN YOU, YANKEES! What is happening here, fellas? What the hell is happening? Don't you know who you are? You aren't some fucking podunk farm team, okay? You are the NEW YORK YANKEES, THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FRANCHISE IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS. So start acting like it! YOU ARE DESTINED TO WIN! STOP THWARTING YOUR OWN DESTINY! NOBODY ELSE IS WORTHYYYYYYY! NOBODY! YOU'RE MY ONLY FRIEND, ROBINSON CANO! WHY WON'T YOU ANSWER MY LETTERS?!

Oops, I let that one go on a couple sentences too long. But you get the point. With this unhealthy and unrealistic expectation that every game should end in the win column, Yankee fans are like stumped mathematicians fiddling with a broken calculator that won't do cosines. Or like the bubble boy on Seinfeld, railing against the rebellious gods who put 'Moops' on the Trivial Pursuit card.

(Calculator jokes so far in this post: 2. 1 shy of the world record.)

So, if being a Yankee fan means being unreasonably optimistic at heart, what does it mean to be a fan of other teams? Let's take a look, and let's do it in the second-person style of a horoscope.


Boston Red Sox: You are still cynical after years of failure and disappointment. Even after two World Series titles, you are ready to give up on your team at the first sign of trouble. After identifying with a losing team for the better part of a century, you are now bereft of your main, backward source of pride. As such, your other many negative qualities have begun to stand out. You are boorish and loud. Your favorite pastimes are drinking, drinking, and domestic violence.

Toronto Blue Jays: You arrive by accident at the Skydome. Strange, you think. This is not the opening of an art gallery, an indie music show, or a hockey game. Yet briefly, you are entertained. Oh yes. You remember. Baseball. But you can't stay long. You have to look for a knit cap and annoy the rest of Canada about how sweet your city is.

Tampa Bay Rays: You are 87 years old. You have forgotten more about baseball than most people will ever know. Unfortunately, you have forgotten nearly everything. Why is this baseball game indoors? That's facacta, already! Did I ever tell you about the time I saw Joe Dimaggio hit three home runs at the Stadium? What? What, Murray? Ted Williams a better ballplayer than Dimaggio? Gevalt, Murray! Oy, you shmekel, you don't know from baseball.

Baltimore Orioles: Theoretically, you should have a lot of status. You have a great scenic harbor, a city that can be called a shipping hub, and a baseball team with a lot of money. But all you get is 90 losses per year, and a famous tv show that makes your city look like a modern Gomorrah. Remember Jeffrey Maier? That was funny.

I'll get to the rest of the league at some point. That's like 30 teams, right? Gosh, I can't remember. Maybe I need...



  1. I would just like to state for the like four hundredth time that I am a BASEBALL fan. Being associated with Red Sox fan-dom is maybe my least favorite thing in the world, though I do like the team. Please stop labeling me. I don't fit in that box. End rant.

  2. For those who don't know, that last comment came from Carrie, a Red Sox fan.

    (Just kidding, I'll stop now...the only reason I put it in the first place was for some context...)


  3. "more often than night" You had me second guessing myself, but google validated that 10 to 1, the phrase is "more often than not". Are both correct? I will trust your private school Dook education.

  4. Anon, that's hilarious. Yes, I meant "more often than not." But the sentence taken as a whole has a lot of promise...

    "Yankees will emerge victorious more often than night."

    Because we all know that night emerges victorious quite often. Especially against day.

    I'm leaving that one up...

  5. Yeah, it got me thinking about the new implications of being 'more often than night' does imply a pretty frequent standard. That's why it shook me to my foundation as maybe I've just been wrong my whole life! Good thing Google brought me back to sanity.

  6. John, maybe we should think about trying to spread this? Too ambitious? Maybe it needs a better "more often than the rise of the moon" or something. Let me know what you think and I'll start drafting up a proposal.