Like many Americans not using a 212, 718, or 917 area code, I’m loving the Yankees’ 6-9 start. Loving it. I absolutely despise the Yankees. Can’t stand them. Root hard for their failure. I wish that team nothing but heartache. They’d be my least favorite team in sports if the Raiders didn’t exist. This last World Series, I was torn between wanting the Sox to pull off their stunning comeback and block the Yankees from the series, and having the Yankees win, just so St. Louis (my team) could crush them. As it turns out, I should have taken a more definitive side on the issue. But at any rate, screw the Yankees! I hate their flashiness. I hate Steinbrenner’s compulsion to spend like Hammer on a crack binge, the bigger the name, the bigger need to sign him. When I read that Beltran went to the Mets, I assumed it was a typo until SportsCenter confirmed it. There’s just something about it that sickens me in a way I can’t seem to reconcile.
Recently though, somebody, and I think it may have been my brother, pointed out that I actually like the Angels. In particular, I love their new owner, Arte Moreno, who’s done nothing but add big names and swell the team’s payroll. And I’ve reacted by repeatedly declare this guy a stud. I know the scenarios aren’t entirely the same, but to some degree, are they so different that I’m not a hypocrite?
My gut says yes. Even if it requires some examination.
From a baseball perspective, I grew up in St. Louis and remain a lifelong Cardinals fan. To my knowledge, they don’t have any historical rivalry with the Yankees (in my lifetime, at least. Or close to my lifetime. I’m not gonna hold a grudge over Gas House Gang events. If Babe Ruth, for whatever reason, refused to give Dizzy Dean props, I honestly don’t care.). As a 33-year old Cardinals fan, I should hate the Mets more (that whole pond **** thing). By now, though, I really don’t care about them one way or the other. If anything, I may feel sorry for them. And I don’t hate the Royals, either. I hate Don Denkinger, but it’s not the same thing. The Cards-Cubs rivalry always felt more friendly than heated, perhaps because Chicago was rarely in a position to actually threaten anyone. It’d be like Tom Hanks’ drive for success stemming from a fear of Peter Scolari. Psychologically, it doesn’t make sense. Could the Yankees be my Lex Luthor simply by default? No. It feels more than just perfunctory.
What is it, then? My background? Well, I didn’t grow up poor by any stretch. I went to a private school with a lot of spectacularly wealthy kids, who all welcomed me with open arms. I was hardly Ponyboy, hanging with the Outsiders and rumbling with rich soc’s. I now live in L.A. and see ostentatious displays all the time, but usually find them more amusingly pathetic than off-putting. In other words, I’m not offended by money, in and of itself. I’m actually looking forward to the day when I have enough to roll around in bed with it.
Is it because Arte Moreno’s the new kid on the block, which makes him sort of an upstart? I tend to root for rebels. Maybe my left leaning politics appreciate that he’s a Latino owner, which I see as progress bigger than the game itself. Both points are true, but I don’t think I’d like the Yankees more if they were owned by Jorge Steinbrenner. I’m sure I’d want to. But I doubt I would. I’d just convince myself that a better socially groundbreaking owner would emerge soon enough, and I’d resolve any lingering guilt by donating to a few charities.
I think it all comes down to the aforementioned Yankees flashiness. When the Angels acquired Orlando Cabrera, it felt like the team had a new piece. When The Big Unit tried on his pinstripes, it felt like Steinbrenner was a little kid buying the most expensive toy on the shelf. And not because he truly needs it or truly wants it (Both cases could be true, I suppose), but as a reminder to the other children in the store that he can afford this toy and they can’t. That’s what every Yankee off-season and trade deadline feels like to me. A reminder that they’re the Yankees and you’re not. It’s like they’re striving to represent the evil empire. They revel in having joined the dark side of The Force. And if you want to hate them, go for it.
I guess it’s working.