Now that the Yankees are back on top, I can settle into a more natural state of dark hatred and enthusiastic loathing for them. All is right with the world.
As the years rolled on after their last World Series championship in 2000 and the Bronx Bombers wallowed (for them), that hatred had turned to … what? Not pity exactly, but something like bemused dismissal. The Yankees were the filthy rich people who made impulse buys on hot-off-the-runway styles and ended up looking silly. There was no sport in it.
But now? After their six-game defeat of the Phillies? I can hate at will and with renewed vigor. Batter up!
I can hate Derek Jeter for playing to the cameras on the top step of the dugout as he cheered on his teammates.
I can hate the national media’s turbo-fawning over the Yankees, especially the media outlets on the East Coast and extra especially ESPN, which has an acute sense of who butters its bread.
I can hate Rudy Giuliani for his prominent seat at Yankee Stadium and his even more prominent PD-NY-FD baseball cap. Yes, Rudy, we remember you used to be the mayor.
I can hate the way the franchise spent gobs more money than anybody else to build a team of stars and then talked about “team chemistry.”
I could go on. So I will.
I can hate the song “New York, New York,” which is played after every Yankees’ game. Start spreadin’ the news: It’s the anthem of a completely self-absorbed city.
I can hate that the Alex Rodriguez story line turned into how liberating it had been for him to come clean on his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Explain to me why we’re convinced he’s clean now?
I can hate how Andy Pettitte basically has been given a free pass for his PED usage.
I can hate how New York bought into Nick Swisher’s phoniness. That’s a lot of hate, I know. But what can I say? The Yankees bring out the best in me.
This hatred is a good thing, a healthy thing. So thank you, Yankees. You’re the bonfire on which some of us can throw our frustrations, whether it be the economy, job problems, marriage woes or those stickers on pears that seem to have no purpose other than to make people crazy. You’re here for us.
We need villains. We need big, bad nasties to hate. We don’t really want to get to know them. We would prefer not to find out they might even be human. We just want to hiss when they slither into our living rooms.
This is exactly what’s wrong with the NFL. Revenue sharing and a salary cap ensure parity, which ensures there won’t be an evil empire to detest. What team can you hate in pro football other than the regional rivals that crop up across the league? Besides Bill Belichick’s hoodie and the fact that Tom Brady has everything, there’s not a whole lot to hate about the Patriots.
Some of us laughed at Yankees fans’ outrage during the barren years between World Series championships. I read a story Friday that described the “nine long years” fans had waited for title No. 27. Nine years? Dude, that’s 10 minutes in Cub years.
There’s no doubt baseball is better when the Yankees are winning. They are polarizing. They restart the discussion about the economic inequities in the sport. Everybody needs a bad guy in a cape and dastardly mustache to root against.