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New York Yankees

A professional baseball team in the American League

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They're Strong Enough to Wear the Iconic Pinstripes. Are You?

  • Mar 30, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+2
The New York Yankees teams from the late 70's and 1996 hold special places in the hearts of Yankee fans. That's because the team, in those years, broke the mold that its been traditionally fit into. The 70's team were a gang of angry characters who barely got along with each other, and they produced the classic memoir The Bronx Zoo, by Sparky Lyle. The 1996 team played a brand of exciting, scrappy small ball with a group of people who were no-names at the time. They cooperated, set their egos aside, and clawed their way to World Series glory that year.

The Yankees are my favorite baseball team. It may look like I'm coming off harsh on my favorite team, complaining about the expectations they didn't fulfill. But in truth, my rating comes from the complete opposite feeling: I'm going very easy on them because they're my guys. I'm from upstate New York, smack in Yankee territory, so my claim to them is completely legit. More importantly, they're responsible for a good chunk of my social development. When I went to college, the Yankees were in their dynastic era for the millennium, and knowledge of their adventures allowed me access to more conversations than the war on terror, which had just started. Later, my team in my first post-college job bonded through the Yankees. To me, that's what makes them my team.

That being said, the Yankees fandom which is rampant in upstate New York makes no sense whatsoever. None. This team basically represents good springing from the bad of baseball. It's nothing like the upstaters who cheer them. It's rich, a global brand, loves big names and marquee idol superstars, and frequently brings in players with sketchy reputations.

If you're new to baseball, live in a region with no ties, and are shopping for a team, you could do far worse than the Yankees. The team has been impossibly successful, and that could explain a lot about the attachment of upstate New York to them. After watching a football team lose four straight Super Bowls and a hockey team lose the Stanley Cup on a disputed goal, having legitimate bragging rights to the Yankees fills our yearning to cheer a winner. The Yankees have won the World Series more times (27) than any other team has so much as even been there. Those 27 titles don't even take into account the times they've lost (13), which is more than quite a few teams, even older ones, have been there. The World Series has been played since 1903 and has skipped two years since its inception, and the Yankees have played in a whopping 40 of them. That's nearly half. With the exceptions of the Houston Astros and the Colorado Rockies, every National League team that has ever played in a World Series has faced the Yankees in at least one of their appearances, a record no other baseball team is even close to matching. I'm thrilled when my team wins the World Series, but it gets to a point where I'm happy for any team that beats them in the World Series, because any team good enough to bring down the Yanks truly deserves their victory.

With a success rate like that, it would make perfect sense that the team has paraded some of the greatest names in baseball history across Yankee Stadium. Supposing for a second that you don't follow baseball, you still have probably heard of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, and Derek Jeter - Pinstripers all. (Jeter still is.) And that isn't even half of the Yankee players who have concluded their careers with Cooperstown speeches or retired numbers. The Yankees have retired 15 numbers, more than any other team, and a number of current and recent players have fair chances at number retirement as well. In fact, it's a given that Derek Jeter and current closer Mariano Rivera will be 16 and 17.

If that isn't enough, one of baseball's most prominent curse stories revolves around the Yankees. According to the myth, Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000 which he used to fund a musical called No, No, Nanette. While the real story is actually actually a lot more complicated than this (and No, No, Nanette didn't see the light of day until five years after the sale), the inarguable fact is that the 1920 sale changed the fortunes for both teams. The Yankees began making title runs nearly every season for the next 40 years (and plenty after that, too) while the Red Sox, winners of five World Series before the sale, didn't win number six until 2004. After their initial cellar-dwelling years, the Red Sox began to contend regularly again, but they became best known for kneeling down in the moments when they should have been rising up. Since the Sox' kneeling and Yankees rising often coincided to games where they played against each other, this has resulted blood between the two that isn't just boiling, but evaporating. Nuclear warfare isn't quite strong enough to describe games between the Yankees and Sox, and their rivalry is frequently cited as the best in America, and sometimes the world.

So if there's so much to love about the Yankees, why am I being harsh with my rating? Well, first of all, they're boring. One of the team's nicknames is the Bronx Bombers, which is not a name a team earns through fielding percentage or ERA. If you take a close look at most of the names I mentioned above, you'll note that Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Jackson were outfielders. Gehrig and Mattingly played first base. Those are traditional positions to place home run hitters. Home runs are nice - they serve as wake-up calls for an audience that has fallen asleep. But I like my baseball played in the trenches. I like the elegance of a triple play, the fast athleticism involved in swatting line drives out of the air. That's exciting baseball, and the Yankees have built their brand almost strictly on the long ball. As far as fundamentals go, truly awesome pitching is topped by Whitey Ford, the inarguable number one in an all-time Yankee rotation. But after that, the Yankees don't have any pitchers who were really both good and defined as Yankees. Jack Chesbro and Lefty Gomez are Hall of Famers with borderline credentials at best. A case can be made for Allie Reynolds, who has borderline Hall credentials which failed him, and Andy Pettitte, with borderline credentials which haven't been tested because he only retired last year. Gaylord Perry is a Hall guy who openly and blatantly cheated. Mike Mussina, David Wells, and Randy Johnson all made their names in other cities. Sparky Lyle, Goose Gossage, and Mariano Rivera are all closers. Roger Clemens I don't even want to go near.

This might not seem like such a big deal, but it's intertwined with a bigger problem I have with the team: More than any other team, the Yankees are in love with a romanticized image of themselves which is straight out of the 50's. They are expected by their owners to be faceless, monolithic good guys who say "shucks" and "swell" and marry their high school homecoming queen girlfriends. Owner Hank Steinbrenner still enforces restrictions on hair and facial hair which were placed by his late father, George. A show of personality which doesn't revolve around baseball and how important the next title is will get Yankees players invitations to chats in Hank's office, and sometimes trades. I like my players to be characters with personalities and a sense of fun they take in playing, and the Steinbrenner junta seems against that concept. A team with this image of itself is even more of a pain when you realize you can't determine the Yankee Smiley Face from a Jim Abbott or a Derek Jeter or a Lou Gehrig - true good guys with strong morals who would stand out as decent people on any other team. This is why the 70's teams and guys like David Wells and Nick Swisher are popular - the Yankees give them enough clout to visibly have fun playing baseball. The fact that the team didn't integrate until 1956 certainly doesn't help.

While there are other teams with ridiculously large financial endowments (COUGH&BOSTON$HACK), the Yankees are the only one that comes with a stigma. The trade-off of success can be worth it, but if your team is the Yankees, people hate your guts. In the minds of many other baseball fans, there is no excuse for rooting for the team they detract as the Evil Empire. Even if you're from anywhere in New York, up to and including next door to Yankee Stadium, folks will put you down for not attaching yourself to the Mets instead. There was recently a study of the number of violent criminals who wore Yankees hats. It feels like someone is trying to apply sociological implications to Yankees fandom now, although the whole furor seems to have died down and been written off as some bozo critical theorist looking for a new form of -ism to get enraged over.

There is no denying the team's payroll, though. Its become symbolic of the overpaying and exultation of our sports idols. Derek Jeter's current contract is over $150 million, and he's only the second-highest paid player with the team. The first is Alex Rodriguez, whose contract of $232 million with his former team was once the largest sports contract in history, is being paid a breathtaking $275 million for his tenure with the Bronx Bombers. When Curt Flood challenged the reserve clause for his right to be a free agent, I don't think this is what he had in mind. I will give Steinbrenner all the credit in the world for putting up the payroll for the best team possible, eveven if he's trying to build by name instead of team chemistry.

So you want to be a Yankees fan. You think it's a cakewalk. But there's a lot of bad to be taken with the good. You won't know losing, but you won't know fun baseball. Don't expect to win a lot of friends in baseball circles. Yes, the bragging rights are worth it, but the stigmatization of being a bandwagoner with a cash-loaded team is worth a second thought before you make a final choice. Only the strong can endure openly promoting and wearing the iconic pinstripes and interlocking NY as a devoted, firsthand fan of the New York Yankees.

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Wiki

http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/ny...mepage/nyy_homepage.jsp

The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the borough of the Bronx, in New York City, New York and are a member of Major League Baseball's American League East Division. One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1901 as the Baltimore Orioles, and moved to New York City in 1903, becoming known as the New York Highlanders before being officially renamed the "Yankees" in 1913. From 1923 to 2008, the Yankees' home ballpark was Yankee Stadium, one of the world's most famous sports venues. In 2009, they moved into a new stadium, also called "Yankee Stadium".

The franchise leads Major League Baseball in both revenue and titles, with 26 World Series championships and 40 American League Pennants. They have more championships than any other franchise in North American professional sports history, passing the 24 Stanley Cup championships by the Montreal Canadiens in 1999. Throughout the team's history, the franchise has produced some of the most celebrated players in Major League history, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Yogi Berra. The franchise has seen 44 of its players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Yankees have retired the numbers of 16 of its players.

The Yankees have achieved widespread popularity and a dedicated fanbase, although they ...
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Details

League: American League
Ballpark: Yankee Stadium (II)
Championships: 26

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