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Outside of Yankeeland, Fans Rejoice At Pinstripes’ Misfortune

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The New York Yankees are 21-24, 9½ games behind the first place Boston Red Sox. Understandably, the New York City media is bashing the Bombers, and Yankees fans are stricken with panic, inching closer to leaping off the ledge. This reaction is with good reason. The team that general manager Brian Cashman has assembled is just – well, simply put, it is not very good. The roster is littered with underachieving primadonnas and players who were once great but are now on the downside of their careers.

Regardless of how you feel about the Yankees, one thing is certain. Outside of New York City and Yankeeland (the less loyal version of Red Sox Nation), baseball fans do not care about the Yankees struggles. They do not care about the Yankees at all. Yankees fans wonder why everyone roots against them. That one is easy. For years, the Yankees have represented what most people detest – arrogance, elitism and a sense of entitlement. Baseball fans did not dislike the Bombers because they won; however, they were repulsed at how the Yankees won.

Before the age of revenue sharing, the Yankees and George Steinbrenner made the most of playing in the nation’s top media market, and the financial windfall that allowed. The Yankees were able to acquire and sign any player they wanted while winning three consecutive World Series titles from 1998-2000, and four in five years with the 1996 crown. Then something spectacular happened. A bloop single from the bat of Luis Gonzalez scored the winning run and lifted the Arizona Diamondbacks to a Game Seven win over the Yankees in the 2001 World Series. Outside of Yankeeland, the baseball world celebrated, and it hasn’t stopped cheering at the Yankees misfortune since.

Today, the Yankees are Major League Baseball’s version of the Buffalo Bills – close but not good enough. You can thank revenue sharing for leveling the playing field. George Steinbrenner can no longer hog all of his money, and rightfully so. Revenue sharing not only allows small market teams to acquire through trades and sign as free agents key players, but it also gives these teams the resources to upgrade scouting and player development staff, and enhance their minor league system by signing high-profile prospects in the draft.

Just as the salary cap has made the NBA and the NFL more competitive, revenue sharing has transformed Major League Baseball into a sport where you never know who will win the World Series from year to year. The Red Sox are not a small market team. John Henry has thankfully shown a willingness to open his wallet and sign high-profile players. Of course – unlike the Yankees, who have fielded an All-Star team of position players that looks much better on paper than the results they produce on the field – Henry, Theo Epstein and Terry Francona have fielded a true team, composed of a roster with gritty role players like Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Julio Lugo and Jason Varitek. Only Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are true superstars. Not even Curt Schilling is in that category any longer.

There is no doubt that the Yankees will make a run. They might even contend for a post-season berth. The bottom line is that the Yankees will have more years like this one in the future since the playing field is leveled. There will be more years like 2006, when the Detroit Tigers emerge from the depths of their division and a team like the St. Louis Cardinals catch fire at the right time. The Sox will have years like 2006 as well. Unlike the Sox, though, the Yankees are disliked by most people outside of Yankeeland. Just as we like to see celebrities who are arrogant, egocentric and pompous fall flat on their face, we enjoy when the Yankees suffer the same fate.

Playing in the nation’s largest city, the Yankees will always have the game’s highest payroll. The Sox are a distant second, and not even close to topping George Steinbrenner’s wallet. Unlike a decade ago when the Yankees were king, there are several other teams that can sign and trade for players who once would have gone to the Bronx. Of course, the Yankees bankroll still has clout. It allowed Joe Torre to add Bobby Abreu to the roster at last year’s trading deadline (how is that working out, Mr. Cashman?). It has also permitted the Yankees to add a soon-to-be 45-year-old Roger Clemens, who will make $1 million every five days for five to six innings of work. That makes me wonder if it is Cashman, and not Torre, who deserves a ticket out of New York.

It doesn’t matter how the rest of the Yankees season progresses. They could make a comeback and secure the Wild Card, or they could even make a miraculous turnaround and win the American League East. Or, they could completely miss the playoffs. It is obvious that the Yankees have too many question marks in their rotation, and too weak of a bullpen, to legitimately contend for a World Series title. That is good for baseball, and a fact that leads baseball fans outside of Yankeeland to smile. For fans who do not wear the NY logo, seeing their team win and/or the Yankees falter is a source of great pleasure.

Get used to it, Yankees fans. There will be many more late October celebrations that don’t involve a team with pinstripes.

About Jeff

  • Sal

    Your post is entirely based on speculation. I see from your blurb that you’re a Sox fan. Fine, but you did no research whatsoever. You’re “yankeeland” comments are just plain false. I’m from Brooklyn, NY and have been a die hard yankees fan since I was born. The fact is, New York is a great state for baseball. Whether it be the Mets, who my grandfather has been an usher for for over 30 years, or the winningest team in baseball, New York Yankees, the city has tons of loyalty to it’s baseball teams. The fact is, the Sox are not a dynasty like the Yankees are. They have no won 26 World Championships…and it will take them centuries(if the earth is even around that long) to reach such a feat. The fact that the Sox won in 04 is a testament to your argument, that all teams have a fair shot in competing, which I agree with…Although you have to realize that some teams have a better shot.

    All of the Yankees away games, most of the time, there are more Yankee fans in the crowd than there are the home team that’s playing. Also, I’ve been to tons of games at Yankee Stadium, as well as Fenway Park…and you can’t even compare the two. Even Youkelis said that nothing compares to playing in front of 55,000 people at night in New York City…he even watches Yankeeography.

    At least the Yankees and their fans haven’t focused our career around hating another team. Oh wait, we never had to…we were too busy WINNING. Don’t worry, if it’s not this year, it’ll be next.

    Oh, and the whole, “I hate the yankees” “yankees make too much money” bandwagon is lame and so old. The sox payed 50 mill just to talk to dice-k. End of story. We have Alex Rodriguez, you have Dustin Pedroia. Obviously our payroll is gonna be a little steeper.

    Oh, and Red Sox fans that aren’t even from Boston do not count as loyal fans. I lived in Boston for a year and have plenty of friends who are true sox fans. You’re clearly not one of them.

  • http://www.soxandpinstripes.com Jeff

    Sal, I give you credit. Your response is very amusing, but lacks credibility. Just because you are not from the city of the team that you support does not diminish your passion and loyalty. I have been a die-hard Sox fan since I was 7, and I know more about the team and its history than many people who live in Boston.

    If you clearly read my post, you will see that it has nothing to do with speculation. It is a fact that revenue sharing has bolstered other teams, and that the Yankees are no longer the only team able to afford high-salary players. Also, I never said that New Yorkers are not loyal to the Yankees. What I said is that outside of New York and the legion of Yankees fans, most people in baseball do not care about the Yankees and their struggles. In fact, they enjoy the fact that the Yankees are falling on their faces.

    Sox fans don’t focus their attention on hating the Yankees. The Sox and Yankees rivalry is heated, and believe me Yankees fans dislike the Sox as much as Sox fans dislike the Yankees. That is what defines a heated rivalry.

    The Sox did pay a lot of Dice-K. It is a wiser investment paying millions for a pitcher like Dice-K who is young and has his best years ahead of him than giving a prorated $28 million to Clemens, who is a No. 5 starter at this stage of his career and will be fortunate to throw more than five innings in his starts.

    Of course, as a Yankees fan, you are going to like Yankee Stadium more than Fenway Park. But, like I said, you’re response was amusing, and I’m glad you contributed. You gave me a good laugh!

  • http://george George

    Great article and very true…..

    the yankees sybolize the UGLY AMERICAN to the rest of the world…. they who think they can buy everything … the lord god of money… and make everyone else feel little because of their arrogance and ego’s… nice to see them go back down to SATAN !!!

    stiembummer should be ashamed of his mercaniaries and his attitude of do whatever it takes to win… kind of arod cheating mentality…
    FAIR competition is all anyone ever asked,,, and not FIXING the match with MONEY !!…..

  • STM

    George writes: “The yankees symbolise the UGLY AMERICAN to the rest of the world”.

    Actually, George, that’s not true. Hardly anyone outside the US – apart from one or two countries where baseball is a major sport – know anything about baseball, the Yankees, or their spending habits or their reputation for ugliness.

    They just don’t know, period, as baseball is hardly played on a serious professional level outside the United States. Sadly, too, ’cause it’s a fun sport.

  • http://allonthefield.blogspot.com Kevin

    I agree that the Yankees won’t likely contend for the World Series, but it seems crazy to me that Steinbrenner would blame Cashman for the team’s struggles. Cashman is merely a puppet in the organization, bringing in the big names when Steinbrenner tells him to.

    And as for the non-Yankee fan reaction to the first third of the season? I’m just as happy as anyone else with how it’s all transpired.