So why exactly do I hate the Yankees?
There was a time, long ago, when I rooted for the Yankees. I remember it well, actually.
It was the fall of 1996. I was a senior in high school and a lot of my closest friends were Yankee fans. Back then, it didn’t matter so much that we rooted for opposite teams, because the Mets were perennially bad and the Yankees weren’t quite so hated yet. I remember sitting in my best friend’s house with a group of guys, watching the final game of the World Series. I remember the fat guy who played third base (his name is escaping me right now) catching the final out in foul territory. I remember jumping out of my seat with the rest of the gathered crowd and cheering. I remember high-fiveing the guys around me and being happy that they won. Yup, I was happy.
So why did I cheer then, but have, in the intervening years, come to “hate” the Yankees? What has elicited such nasty feelings of ire whenever I see them on TV? What makes me root for any team they play, and cheer when one of their players gets hurt? (When Jeter got hurt on Opening Day a couple years back, I hung his picture and the headline on my desk at work.)
I’ve had a hard time rationalizing this lately. So I came up with a list of reasons why I think my hatred of the Yankees began. Here goes:
- They outspend everyone
- Their players act like it’s a job, not a game
- They went nuts with the free agents and trades
- The way they treated their manager
All of these are logical points. They’re all true and no Yankee fan can dispute them. I’m trying to avoid such arguments as “because they’re jerks” or “Jeter is over-rated” because I want to be fair. You may see where I’m going with this.
EVERY ONE OF THESE POINTS CAN BE APPLIED TO THE 2008 NEW YORK METS. And that makes me sick.
1. They outspend everyone: They have the highest payroll in the National League. They currently are spending $138 million, almost $20 million more than the Cubs and Dodgers, who are second and third in the NL. The Cubs currently have the best record in baseball, and the Dodgers are second in the NL West. Meanwhile, the Mets are paying their “slugging” cleanup hitter with 8 home runs $18.6 million, their offensively-challenged first baseman $16 million, and their oft-injured left-fielder (15 games in 2008) $7.5 million. Additionally, Luis Castillo is at $6.25 million but should be more in the $2-2.5 million range; Scott Schoeneweis is at $3.6 million but should be in the minor leagues; and Orlando Hernandez, who will not pitch in 2008, is at $7 million. This sort of spending is not just exorbitant—it’s illogical.
2. They players act like it’s a job, not a game: And they’re right. Baseball is their job. But we all have heard the annoyed fans cry a thousand times about how they’d gladly switch occupations with any player on the team, and that’s just the flat out truth. Sure, their days are tough; traveling from coast to coast like the Mets have had to do this last three weeks would be rough on anyone. But anytime that Carlos Beltran wants to come and teach my senior English class about existentialism and then come home and grade 140 essays about Hamlet’s procrastination, write lesson plans, grade tests, call parents, attend faculty/department/staff/adviser/board/and Middlestates meetings, I’d gladly switch and play center field for a day. The point is, Reyes used to look like he was having fun. David Wright used to smile when he played. Now, it looks like they’re both tired and ready for the off-season after the first at-bat of every game.
3. They went nuts with free agents and trades: What drove me crazy about he Yankees was that they kept adding players that they didn’t need to their team. They had a great core group of guys that were either home-grown or acquired as parts to fill in rather than superstars to dominate. While Paul O’Neal and Scott Brosius weren’t original Yankees, they weren’t leaders of other teams brought over to stand like Nelson Muntz over Millhouse. When the Yankees added Roger Clemens, I could live with that, even though they got rid of a guy who probably bled blue and white (David Wells). But then it was Giambi, and Mussina, and … well, you know the list.
So now let’s look at what the Mets have done. First there was Mike Piazza, but that was okay because he was the only real superstar they “bought.” The other guys on the teams around him were all either home-grown or acquired in a way that wasn’t unfair. And when they tried to surround Piazza with “bought” talent (Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Jeromy Burnitz, Mike Hampton, etc), the teams imploded. I thought they would have learned their lesson. The payroll had skyrocketed to $117 million, and when Omar Minaya took over, he said he wanted to build a franchise like the Braves and keep it perpetually stocked to replace talent from within while supporting with talent from without. But when Piazza was on his way out, in came Pedro and Beltran. I justified this when it happened because again, they were guys who would be leaders and stand alone atop the leadership and accountability chain. Plus, they were free agents and the Mets didn’t have to give anything up to acquire them. But wait: then can Delgado and LoDuca and Castillo and now Santana and… will Mark Texieria play first base next year? The point is, the Mets are doing exactly what the Yankees did after the 2001 World Series. Where is Minaya’s plan to build a strong system? The Mets are generally ranked among the three worst minor league systems in the whole of MLB; that doesn’t sound like a well-established plan to me.
4. The way they treated their manager: After they were eliminated from the playoffs last season, the Yankees basically said to Joe Torre: “We don’t care what you’ve done for us of the past dozen years; we’re going to leave you hanging for a while and let the press eat you alive and tear your life apart.” I’ve made no secret of the fact that I never thought Joe Torre was a great manger, but the simple fact that the was around for so long should have at the very least warranted a more respectful and more private determination of his fate. And when he walked away for their half-assed offer, I applauded him more than I ever had before.
So what exactly is happening to Willie Randolph right now? He’s being left out to dry. Every day some newspaper writes an article about “is this Willie’s last day?” or “will Omar/Wilpon fire Willie today?” It’s gotten to be such a joke. I’m not a fan of Willie Randolph at all. Personally, I thought he should have been fired two years ago. But to leave a guy who has been nothing but classy to face these ridiculous media whores ever day, to refuse to either support or fire the guy, that’s just wrong. What is Omar thinking here? Why doesn’t he just fire him or say that Willie is the manager for the duration??? Doing either one would have allowed this team to move on and try to put the distractions aside. Instead, we’re faced every single day with the same old story. This is a very classless move on the part of the Wilpons and Omar Minaya.
So ultimately, what conclusions can we draw from this? I don’t know. I either don’t know why I hate the Yankees, or I don’t know why I’m a Mets fan. Both answers are painful, and both will cause me to lose a lot of sleep in the next few days, I’m sure.