Do I Hate the Yankees… or the Mets?

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:

  1. They outspend everyone
  2. Their players act like it’s a job, not a game
  3. They went nuts with the free agents and trades
  4. 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.

6 Responses to “Do I Hate the Yankees… or the Mets?”

  1. Chris Wilcox says:

    I am going to respond to your criticisms and offer a rebuttal:

    1) They outspend everyone – this is a bad thing? The Mets outspend everyone because they MAKE more than everyone. If this team was making tons of money and spent money like the Florida Marlins, wouldn’t that be infinitely more offensive than a team that makes a lot of money and spends a lot of money? They spend money in relation to what they make, so of course they are going to have a high payroll; this is a team that has more revenue streams available to it than any other team. It’s basic economics. As a fan, I am happy that my team chooses to use their resources towards building the best team possible, even if they are doing so in a horribly misguided way most of the time. I’m more alarmed that they are spending money on poor solutions like Carlos Delgado, not that they spend a lot of money to begin with. But ultimately, I think this criticism is unfair.

    2. The players treat the game like a job and not a game – I think this is kind of unfair. How are we right to judge the emotions of this team? We don’t know them. We are making assumptions. I think if you were to poll the New York Mets dugout, approximately 100% of the players would be absolutely thrilled with the idea that they are playing baseball for a living (this poll is not at all scientific). Plus, to play devil’s advocate; right now, this team is playing like utter crap. If they were out there playing every game with a smile on their face while they are losing, wouldn’t we get on their case for not caring enough? Wouldn’t the papers be saying “Look at Jose Reyes smile and laugh as the team continues to fail around him”? Is this really fair to say about a team right now that hasn’t played well since early April? I’m calling BS on this one; you are being really unfair here. Also, for what it’s worth, I never heard this charge being said of those late 90’s/early 00’s Yankees teams.

    3. They went nuts with free agents and trades – this goes back to the money issue. Would you have preferred if this team hadn’t traded for Johan Santana? Would you have preferred that they not sign Carlos Beltran to play center field, when he has been the best center fielder in the NL for two of his three seasons with the team? As for the other guys…I mean, you are aware that we have to field a full team, right? 25 players, including one at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, RF, CF, and C, and a pitching staff, bench, everything, right? The Castillo signing was short-sighted, especially for four years, but who was going to play 2B full-time? Don’t say Gotay; as much as I loved him, he probably wasn’t a permanent solution at 2B.

    And while the Castillo signing wasn’t a great idea, it’s not like they gave him a TON of money, just a ton of years, which Omar still hasn’t learned is a good idea, and one of the issues I’ve had with the Minaya Administration. But they needed a 2B and lacked internal options; maybe Reese Havens will be an option for this ball club down the line. I would say that the Mets have been over-reliant on going out and getting players at the expense of building a good farm system, but when Omar Minaya came here in 2004, the Mets’ farm system was terrible, and he needs to field a team; what else was he supposed to do? This was kind of a no-win situation for Omar, so I can’t really call you fair or unfair here.

    4. The way they treated their manager – this must be a relatively new reason for hating the Yankees, because up until last year, they treated Torre pretty great, making him the richest manager of all time and all. Anyway, you’re right – the team should have acted quickly on Willie last year and fired him then. They knew what they had at the time, and knew that he probably wouldn’t be good enough to take them to the next level, and they should have acted quickly and cut their losses. Instead, they were wishy-washy, kept him around but on a short leash, and what we are having now is deteriorating into embarrassment.

    I do think that the Wilpons did all of this with the best of intentions; if anything, I think they are almost too nice. They didn’t want to fire him last year because they didn’t want to blame him for the collapse, but with every day that this team sits under .500 with his job on the line, they are essentially doing exactly that, albeit six months too late. The fact is, Willie hasn’t managed well, Omar Minaya has made only one good move in two years, and we are likely looking at a front office purge coming sooner rather than later. I will say, as much as I am not a fan of Willie’s leadership, I do think that this is a fair criticism.

    That being said, I do think I understand why you dislike the Yankees, because it is the reason I think most people dislike the Yankees. At the risk of sounding like I have a Yankee bias when nothing is further than the truth, here it is:

    For most of the past 15 years, they have been the model franchise in Major League Baseball, only recently being surpassed by the Boston Red Sox.

    This is the reason people hate the Yankees – because they have made a ton of money, and have generally spent it well. They make the playoffs every year, and while they haven’t won the World Series since 2000, they are still right in the thick of things every single year. They also won 4 of 5 World Series titles in the late 90’s, which emboldened their fanbase to the point of making them insufferable (just today, I had a co-worker come up to me and tell me that simply because Chien-Mien Wang was hurt, that this meant that they would get CC Sabathia, “because they always get what they want”).

    But you know what? They spend money because they make money; they reinvest the money they receive from their fans to put the best possible team on the field each and every year. Why do we hate that? Because their front office gets it right far more than they get it wrong, and even when they get it wrong (Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano say hi), it doesn’t affect them; they just keep churning along, winning 90+ games every single year.

    Meanwhile, the Mets blow more major signings than they don’t, they give guys like Carlos Delgado 1-2 more years than they should, and it hurts them; the Yankees give Jason Giambi 1-2 more years than they should and they’re still the Yankees. We hate the Yankees because they are successful, and we aren’t; because they build good teams, and we don’t. It’s the same reason the Red Sox are now hated, instead of lovable losers, because now they win every year, now they are the model franchise, now they get more transactions right than they get wrong. If the Mets were winning right now, all four items you list above would be irrelevent. You don’t hate that the Mets are spending $138 million this year, more than the rest of the NL; you hate that the Mets are spending $138 million this year, more than the rest of the NL, and have absolutely nothing to show for it. That is a fair criticism.

  2. tjv101 says:

    First off Joe, I can’t believe you actually rooted for the Yankees at one time. Well, who am I to talk, I use to be an Orioles fan. Nonetheless, this team brings out a lot of emotion in the three of us…unfortunately, the past two seasons it’s been more heartbreak. I have to agree with some points that both of you make.

    1. They Outspend Everyone: There’s no doubt that the Mets have the highest payroll in the NL. On paper before this season started, they looked like the best team in the NL and we all were jumping for joy and putting in our vacation time for October (at least I did) once they signed Santana. Johan was supposed to be that bridge to the playoffs this year that the Mets needed to get over that hump of last year’s misfortune. We had no idea that they were going to struggle to be a .500 team with that talent and certainly with that payroll. Fortunately for us as Mets fans, our owners have the money to bring in the top talent. Other ball clubs don’t have that luxury. I don’t fault them for that. However, certain contracts, we can afford fault them for (i.e. Castillo, El Duque, etc).

    2. Their players act like its a job not a game: Certainly I hate A-rod and jeter for looking so fake all the time and showing this cocky, arrogant, lifeless “routine” that they do game in and game out. I don’t think Reyes and Wright do this who are our two core guys. Joe, I know you think they do but I jsut don’t see it. Delgado has shades of it since he’s miserable and he just doesn’t have it anymore. Beltran has always played the same way.

    3. They went nuts with free agents and trades: Granted, this team has had some really good trades and some very bad trades. None of you didn’t want Santana. I don’t think either of you balked at giving Alou his 7.5 million option after his 30+ game hitting streak last year and the offense that he can put out when healthy even if he gave you 81 games. I know you brought up the mets farm system which isn’t all that great right now but we still have our best prospect. Give the Mets credit for at least not folding and giving up F-Mart to acquire Santana. I’m glad they made the trade for Milledge even if Church is on the DL for a little while.

    4. The way they treat their manager: This topic is starting to get old…quick. I’m tired of it and I wish the Mets would have put this to bed a long time ago. Either keep Willie Or Fire Him. Stop the dangling like a fish game that they play with him. He deserved better than this. He is a class act. Granted, he’s not the fiery manager that Bobby V once was but he’s also not the overly passive, lifeless, emotionless old man that Art Howe was either. He wants this team to win like everyone else does. Also, how long was Charlie Manual on the hot seat for with all the Phils mishaps before last year? His job was constantly being threatened and now they are in a comfortable first place lead in the NL east. But anyway, getting back to Willie. The team themselves have made it clear that they want to know one way or another whether willie is their manager or not. It seems like the team likes and respects him. He should be given til the end of the year once and for all and given the opportunity to right this ship. They are way too talented to struggle like this… injuries or not. The Wilpons need to make a decision once and for all about Willie and not let it be contingent upon losing a series. And Joe, your not the only one losing sleep about this team day in and day out. Doctor, someone check my blood pressure please!

  3. Joeadig says:

    Trav, I hate to say it but F-Mart is not seen as a highly regarded prospect. Peter Gammons was just talking about him today and rated him as “a 4th outfielder.” That hurts. I wanted him to be the answer to the LF situation in 2009, but I trust Peter Gammons.

  4. Chris Wilcox says:

    Peter Gammons is not a scout. F-Mart is 19 years old, playing in a league with mostly 20 and 21 year olds, it is WAY too early to say what he is going to wind up being when he is 23, 24 years old in the major leagues.

  5. tynian16 says:

    Hey guys. I didn’t know this wonderful blog existed. Figured the resident yankee fan should check in. I do consider myself a more rational yankee fan, but I’m sure you will disagree. I am trying to remember back to the 96 world series and how excited joe got. I do remember him rooting for the yankees but before you guys jump on him, remember they were playing the braves (a team you should dislike more than the yanks). I also remember a scavenger hunt after the game…

    Anyway,

    I don’t remember who wrote this but it does boil down to one thing: winning and losing. Winning would make you forget that Delgado is terrible or Castillo is old or Reyes isn’t the player he was. I agree with Wilcox. Spending money is not something to be ashamed of. If you’ve got it…spend it. The problem with the mets appears to be that they get their decisions wrong many more times than they get them right. The yankees get some big decisions terribly wrong but have either gotten lucky (aaron small/shawn chacon) or just managed to battle through the problems.

    I don’t watch the mets enough to judge whether they have fun or not. I will say in the games that I have watched over the last few years, it appears that they have no heart. Say what you will about Jeter, but he plays passionately. He truly cares. So do most of the players on the team (not sure about Cano). But more importantly, it appears as though the team genuinely likes each other. Delgado and Beltran always seem disinterested in the game and just want to get to dinner.

    The mets are only 6.5 games out. At this time last year, the yanks were 8.5 out. The season isn’t over and Mets fans are panicking. I think one problem with Mets fans is that they identify more with the yankees than the mets. They always compare the two, like it is some sort of battle. As a yankee fan, I certainly enjoy watching the Mets struggle but it is seperate from the yankees.

    As far as their treatment of Willie. Firing him at 12:15 local time is a travesty. Why send him out to the west coast? Did that final game (which they won) cost him his job? Just stupid.

    The key to winning is a good mix of players brought up through the organization and imported players. I think the yanks have gotten back to that and are willing to forfeit this year in order to have the team in order that they want next year. I don’t think they will trade for Sabathia. I do think they will sign him in the offseason as well as Texiara.

    In closing, don’t give up!! It’s not even the all star break yet. I am sure Jerry Manuel will turn the ship around…

  6. Joeadig says:

    Was that a logical, rational comment by Kish? Wow… is he maturing???

    But I really hope that your final comment about Jerry Manual turning things around was tongue-in-cheek….

    If not, my god help your soul.

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