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Yankees “Fans” Should At Least Be Genuine

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Recently, I had a debate with a Canadian friend about sports merchandizing. Let me explain:

I mentioned that I was flummoxed by the plethora of New York Yankees clothing here, namely caps and team jackets. I mentioned that their “NY” icon even appeared on sweatshirts that say “NEW YORK” on them but otherwise have nothing to do with the baseball team.

My reasoning was that the Yankees should have some pride in themselves – as if possessing World Series championships – by not internationally marketing themselves like a corporate franchise. After all, in the 1950s, the slur against the Yankees was “Who can love U.S. Steel?” To this day, the Yankees remain no less a corporate entity.

My Canadian friend was taken aback. How, he argued, as a conservative, can you argue against the exercise of capitalism like that? The point, he asserted, behind a sports franchise is to market itself and the Yankees have obviously done an excellent job of that. So why are you complaining? Why don’t you salute them instead?

I was horrified that he interpreted my rant that way. I highly respect the Yankees’ entrepreneurship. I don’t have a problem with that at all. Long live capitalism indeed! Now, I admit, my argument is tainted by virtue of being a Boston fan. However, I told him, as a Red Sox fan I would be dismayed if Red Sox attire became the de rigueur fashion statement of hep-cats everywhere. In fact, if I knew someone was wearing a BoSox cap simply for the fashion of it, I’d demand they take it off. “You’re not qualified to wear that,” I’d fume. “You never invested your heart and soul in that team’s fate. You didn’t suffer for two decades waiting and hoping for them to win it all the way I did!”

It’s gotten to the point now that, here in England, and elsewhere across the globe, you cannot tell a genuine Yankees fan from somebody simply trying to look like a New Yorker. For the Yankees to capitalize on the international New York City-based orgy, I feel, demeans the team and its true fans. Can the average Yankees cap-and-jacket wearer tell me who the Yankees’ shortstop is? Do they even know what a shortstop is?!

And, if my theory about this universal infatuation with New York City is correct, what about the Mets? They too are a legitimate and fairly successful New York baseball team. But the fact is, when I see someone walking these London streets with a Mets cap on, I know the likelihood that he is from New York City and an authentic fan of that team is pretty high.

Lots of Americans would love to visit London. But that doesn’t mean they throw on Arsenal, Chelsea, Millwall or other local soccer colors simply to look like a Londoner. Another point: Manchester United is one of the most successful soccer teams on the planet, world-renowned by “footie” fans everywhere, regardless of whether they love the team or not. But their success does not translate into American megabucks. Americans aren’t into soccer, so Man U clothing would not shift from Stateside shelves (though, oddly enough, an American – Malcolm Glazer – now owns the team; and Man U fans have a right to be skeptical).

Genuine Yankees fans should be aghast at the idea that millions of people worldwide who don’t follow the Yankees’ fortunes, nor even know the slightest damn thing about the game of baseball, don team-oriented attire. I repeat, I tip my hat to the Yankees for their ability to capitalize on all their past success. They have made an entirely worthy name for themselves. But isn’t it just right that if you buy and wear a Yankees cap that you should know something about the team and the game they play so that you can at least resemble a fan?

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  • Joanna

    What a nonsensical article. I buy Yankee clothing for my children 2000 miles away because I LOVE THE YANKEES and WANT THEM TO WEAR IT. I also buy my zip code on tshirts for them…..grow up. You are just jealous that the Red Sox do not attract the genuine intrigue that the Yankees do. I bet you have worn a polo shirt with a horse on it ..> AND I BET YOU DO NOT KNOW RALPH LAUREN….I could go on. This is just the stupideszt article and I can not believe anyone gave it room.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Mark,

    What you’ve said here makes sense. I am a Mets fan and sick of the ubiquitous Yankees logo and material. Maybe it takes a Brit to see it for the crap that it is.

    Example: I go into Modell’s here in NYC (a sporting goods franchise). There are huge Yankees signs, an abundance of merchandise up front, and Mets articles have to be found in the rear of the store. This is totally inequitable.

    The fact is there are MANY PEOPLE who are sick of the Yankees. They have just found a marketing juggernaut and even when I go into Dunkin’ Donuts, the counterman has on a frigging Yankees hat with Dunkin’ Donuts symbol on the side.

    My family (especially the kids who are Mets fans) feel this is annoying. And don’t forget, the Yankees embarassed themselves this year (again and again).
    But they have always been like that. Even their broadcasts (on their own network by the way) are all promotional and positive. No one ever talks negatively even after a player makes a dumb ass play.

    So, I’m a Mets fan, proud of it, and remind everyone there’s another NYC baseball cap, which is much nicer looking in blue and orange.

  • rob k

    Are you kidding? We embarassed ourselves? Good year Mets, you spent around the same amount as the Sox and Yankees, you didn’t even get in. The Mets just aren’t a team thats cool to wear for the non-baseball fans. It’s hard for me to see a Red Sox fan say this when the majority of clothing I see by non-baseball fans are Yankees, Red Sox, and Chicago Whitesox/Cubs

  • http://nightdragon.diaryland.com Mark Edward Manning

    Joanna, you’ve totally missed my entire point – no, I am not jealous that the Red Sox have not attracted as much attention, because at least I know that I will be seen as a true fan when I don my Red Sox attire. If, however, I was a Yankees fan, I would be incensed that my allegiance to my team would be interpreted as nothing more than a cool thing to wear. The symbol of the team you’re so proud of is now nothing more than an international corporate logo … you must be so proud. I know I sure wouldn’t be.

    Rob K, LA Dodgers caps are also pretty popular too, but again, take all the ChiSox, BoSox, LA Dodgers and Cubs caps worn by non-fans and they would not equal the amount of Yankees stuff worn by non-fans.

    Victor, I may be a BoSox fan, but I’m totally with you here. I agree, the Mets should not settle for second best. Sure, the Yankees have been more successful, fact, but a true Mets fan has to grit his teeth at the disparity between the two New York teams.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Mark,

    After the Mets, I owe allegiance to the Bosox. This goes way back. As a Mets fan, when the Mets were out of it, nothing irked Yankees fans more than to see someone wearing a Bosox hat or shirt. I was that guy. My Boston hat hangs on the rack with all my Mets hats. Only one time in my life did I want Boston to lose, and that was 1986.

    That said, rob k is in fantasy land. The Mets (and their fans) don’t go out every year and obnoxiously boast about the fact that they’re going to win a World Series. Only Yankees fans are so arrogant, so self-righteous in their indignation, that they still can’t believe they lost to the Angels (because they feel it’s their god-given heritage to be in the World Series).

    This has been going on long enough, but the Yanks are moving into the same nowhere land they were in when the Mets owned the city in the 1980s, when Doc Gooden’s picture dominated Manhattan, when orange and blue ruled in the classrooms and boardrooms.

    I’m not saying the Mets will win it all; I’m saying that the city is going to become a Mets city again. Let’s Go Mets!

  • http://nightdragon.diaryland.com Mark Edward Manning

    Victor, I too would love to see New York become a Mets city again.

    Now that the BoSox have a modern championship title of their own, ’86 is forgiven if never forgotten.

    The last time I was in New York, I was waiting at Penn Station for the train back to Boston. The station bar was packed with Mets fans. Admittedly, I was too chicken to wear my Red Sox cap in front of them – they may have thought I was trying to rub them the wrong way, when all I was really thinking was, “hey, I’m on your side, I hate the Yanks too!” – still … I felt a lot more comfortable and at home drinking in their presence than I would have with Yankees fans.

    Someday soon, I will have to get a Mets cap just to show people around here that there is an alternative. A nicer one.

    ~ Mark

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Mark, make sure you get the blue Mets cap with the orange NY, because that is the one “pure” Mets fans love to wear.

    You know what? It’s a pleasure watching the playoffs with those sour puss Yankees off the field. I can get used to this.

    Cheers!