The New York Yankees have history. Lots of it, in fact. Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter are storied figures. Of course we all know about Babe Ruth. The Yankees have great tradition, there’s no debating that. Yet most Yankees fans are so caught up in that tradition that they feel a sense of entitlement and evoke an aura of elitism, and at the same time wonder why a majority of baseball fans who don’t follow the Yankees despise the franchise.
Most of the distaste for all things NYY has little to do with their success. The Yankees have won 26 World Series titles, most of which occurred before 1963 (they have earned six rings since then). Why do a majority of baseball fans dislike the Yankees? It has to do with the financial advantage that the franchise has long enjoyed over every other team, and the pompous persona exhibited by many Yankees fans who have locked themselves in a time capsule and think it is still 1999.
I can already hear the obscenities uttered from any Yankees fan who sees this, but remain calm before you break a blood vessel, and read on. Fortunately for baseball, the financial landscape is changing. Flush with cash from revenue sharing, even teams like Kansas City and Toronto are spending. Frustrated with a third place finish last season, John Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, opened his wallet and increased the Red Sox payroll. Now I know that more money does not translate into a better team and an automatic World Series title. The Red Sox spent $120 million on last year’s team and, mostly due to injuries and a lack of depth, finished behind the Yankees and the Blue Jays. Yankees fans know that money doesn’t buy happiness since their team has not won a World Series since 2000 despite having the game’s highest payroll.
However, playing in a big market like NYC, which is one of the largest cities in the world, gives George Steinbrenner many added revenue opportunities that other MLB franchises lack.
For years, the Yankees have had no excuse for not at least reaching the World Series. Expectations should be higher for a team that has unlimited financial resources, and the ability to outbid any team to fill holes in the off-season and at the trading deadline. The Yankees have won nine consecutive AL East titles, yet with all the money and the roster of all-stars at each position, they have fallen short of a World Series crown since gamers like Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius have left.