Keidel: Us, Evil Empire? And You? When Yankees Hating Becomes Insincere

By Jason Keidel
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Yankees fans are like a billionaire’s babies: we’re accustomed to a certain lifestyle, yet we did very little to earn it. The Jeter babies are the worst. All they know is winning, can’t name a player before 1995, and wear those “Got Rings?” shirts all over the five boroughs. And they actually think Derek Jeter is the greatest Yankee in history.

They are slightly more offensive than those of us who remember the 1980s, the desolate decade of Pagliarulo, Meacham, and Trout. We have a modicum of modesty. I promise.

But the hubris we share is authentic. We are economics at its most egregious, and proud of it. We rub your face in our wallet, nose mashed in the cash, then cast you back to whatever outpost you call your baseball home.

And when Larry Lucchino called us the Evil Empire he intended to insult us. Instead, he emboldened us. The new moniker became a badge, a spiritual skin tag, added to all the insults over the years, which we merely see as veiled envy. Indeed, you’ll find Darth Vader masks freckling the fan base at every home game. Bring it.

But when does the hating become insincere?

I’m in Allentown, PA, for the week, a hardcore home of Phillies fans. (Eagles fans are rampant, too, yet they’re far more annoyed by my Steelers hat than the idea that I live five minutes from the Meadowlands. Go figure.)

The Phanatics still call the Bronx Bombers the Evil Empire. And I object. When you spend $200 million on two players (Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee) you eschew your prerogative as a peasant. Then you sign Jonathan Papelbon? At what point do we start calling them the same thing?

What’s the financial membrane between pauper and pimp? Can a team spending $173 million (Philadelphia’s payroll in 2011) call out a club that spends $202 million? After they dropped another $50 million on their shiny new closer and soon sign Cole Hamels to an extension, the number should jump for Philly. And Boston’s payroll inches toward that “Empire” watermark on a yearly basis. Combine their payroll ($162 million last year) with two rings based on that bankroll since 2004 and the Red Sox have little grievance with New York in terms of monetary disparity. It’s like Steve Wynn and Donald Trump griping about the other’s excess.

If Tampa and Oakland groan about greener pastures, we understand. But let’s say that the Northeast Corridor is well heeled, and that many microscopic payrolls are commensurate to the support they receive. If you’d like to say the Rays do more with their dwindling 401K than the Yankees do with their titanic checkbook, you’ll find no argument here. This missive is directed at the haves who pretend they’re have-nots.

Bobby Valentine spiked the salty I-95 rivalry this week with a few sharp remarks about Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, a strange monologue we’d expect from Tyrone Biggums.

Frankly, I love the commentary, even if it was gibberish. Sports and all manner of men who follow them are rarely logical. I’d rather die in New York City than live in Boston, in part because of my antipathy toward the Red Sox and Patriots. (There are other reasons, but this is the sports section.)

So hate us. You’ll find a Yankees fan unfazed by the vitriol. In fact, he (or she) may even invite you to squat on the bandwagon, take the pinstripes for a spin. There are plenty of reasons to adore or despise us – just choose the right ones.

Feel free to email me:

Should Phillies and Red Sox fans stop complaining about the Yankees’ payroll? Sound off in the comments below…

  • Bobbyg

    Phillie nation. ,,,,,,’

  • Bobbyg

    Olerud 4 life. Don’t cry cuz your team is garbage. Underdog shirts. Lol. We put 5 in a row T shirts on. And I was a fan during bad times when are only bat was Von hayes bating 250 for your info. Ps don’t cry. Little girl

  • Bobbyg

    Mets r a joke,phillies own them Rollins don’t even pick on them anymore it’s not not fun when u beat someone and they don’t fight back

  • Bobbyg

    Knick fans crack me up they’ll never win with carmello n amare 2 ballhogs. Wow I beat clevland lol. Wait till Boston burries your team or should I say rondo time

  • Bobbyg

    Jonas shut up, I’m a Philly fan and I talk just as much as any fan. You Yankee fans walk around with jackets I won 27- The last 10 years were a better team and we spent less. If it wasn’t for matsui you would have losses that one too

    Ps. I live in south jersey. Which is def phillynation not mets or yanks

  • Louie


  • Olerud_4_LIfe

    Yea this was a good article. You have to ignore the fairweather fans who come and scream out anti-team mantras and spew hypocritical garbage. I didnt even know the phillies existed in the 90’s or early 2000’s besides abreu and doug glanville. Now all these wanna-be fairweather phil fans want to hop on and act as if they were there supporting their teams. As bad as the Mets are (and are my die-hard favorite team), we know which comments to take serious and which one to not. In the AL east, the only teams fans that I take seriously are the braves (1999 rogers walking andruw jones, chipper jones and you knowing he hit a homerun when he finish that toe tap and put his head down). All the real fans are probably disgusted that the red sox look like drunken messes and bums who are likely to drive Bobby V away, and most real phil fans are probably just happy to win one a few years ago and dont wanna say much about the mets, seeing it as their stadium is an absolute joke to hit bombs.

    • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

      Man, I agree with 99% of what you said, but you gave the Phillies fans too much credit. Phillies fans love to talk; more specifically, they love to remind you how good the Phillies are now, because deep down they can’t get over how bad they were for so long. Diehard Phillies fans know everything there is to know about their team but really nothing about baseball outside of Philadelphia, but it doesn’t matter, because if you’re talking to one, they will make sure they drown you out enough not to actually have a conversation. And yes, they love to remind us Mets fans of what we don’t have.

      • Olerud_4_LIfe

        Yea youre right. Im a mets fan first and foremost, but I truly enjoy baseball and know enough to have convos with people on their current players, coaches, issues, and sometimes prospects (in high school i was an addict and had a weird addiction to remember individual stats). But most philly fans know “did u see that ryan howard homerun?” Or “chase utley is the best second baseman in the game.” So yea i agree. cant really have a convo with fanatics as a opposed to fans. Im currently fighting against fairweather knick fans (im a knick fan myself) who think they are real fans because they provide insight on amare stoudamire, but only really started watching because of j-lin, and God forbid they miss the bandwagon.

        Olerud is still arguably my favorite player (mike piazza is close, along with alfonzo, and chipper jones batting stance…not the player, but his batting stance is absolutely epic and underrated. Only batting stance that by the last tap you tell if its heart sinking bomb to dead center or a heart sinking bomb to right field) Again, if olerud is there in 2000, Mets win…damn wife and children

    • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

      (By the way, I love your username – John Olerud was and always will be my idol.)

  • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

    Awesome article. If you’re going to hate the Yankees, at least hate them for the right reasons, which in my case include growing up a Mets fan and watching the Yanks win the World Series four out of five years, the last one being against my Metsies. But I certainly rooted for them in 2009, because there was no better team to hate than the Phils, and there still isn’t.

    The thing about both the Phillies and the Red Sox is the years and years of futility that their fans had to endure, which has led to a real Napoleonic complex over the past decade or so for Boston fans and five years for Philly fans. The reason that fans of those teams, more than any others, will continue to whine about the “Evil Empire” is because it keeps that false sense of legitimacy instilled in them whenever their team beats the Yankees. I really don’t understand it; as soon as the Mets beat Atlanta all over 2006, I stopped hating them, because honestly, there was no need to. They were as good of a team anymore. Did I revel in their futility? Oh yes I did, just as I enjoy every year in which the Yanks fall short. Did I hate them? No.

    The Phils have a much better pitching staff and Boston, on paper, just straight up has a better team. Not to mention that in the past ten years, the Phillies have won just as few World Series as the Yankees have, and Boston has won more. But gosh darn it, those Yanks were evil back when they were evil, and they’ll continue to be evil until the day those fans die – because they said so.

    • JK

      Thank you, sir. I suspect with spring and our pastime arriving, we’ll see much more of you, young man…

  • skip

    I went to my first Yankee game in 1965 that year they finished last and they did not win anything till 1976 but I stayed with my team. not all Yankee fans are band wagon jumpers. I don’t want to hear the cry baby’s. If I owned a company I would want the best employees to run it. If I had to pay them more to help make me more and keep my customers happy so be it.

  • Paul D

    Ah, the days of Dennis Rassmussen, Ed Whitson, Monteleone- Monteleone, for criminy’s sake! Those were the years of the three dollar bleacher seats with all the baseballs you could take home as souveniers. Joel Skinner, Danny Pasqua, Charles “Chucky Cheese” Hudson… need I go on? Those were the years that they teased us with a ninety win game seasons but never had the arms to take us home- when the Jays ate our lunch for us. Thanx for the memories, Jason.

    • JK

      My pleasure, Paul. And thanks. Great to hear from you.

      Indeed, we could go on forever about Butch Wynegar, Ron Hassey, Andre Robertson, Omar Moreno, Kevin Maas…

  • Paul D

    Yeah, when a guy named Rassmussen was the ace! What a disaster those late Eighties teams were. At one point, when we finagled Jack Clark from the Cards, we actually had a very formidable batting lineup. But I think the best pitcher we had was an over the hill John Candeleria. And that’s when at the All-Star break Yanks went out and got Steve Trout form the Cubs and thought that they were in the playoffs. And then he went out and imploded on the mound like a mental patient. They teased us as fans back then. They would win ninety games at times and just come up short. Those were the years when the Jays ate our lunch for us. Thanx for the memories, Jason.

    • JK

      Doug Drabek, Steve Sax, Rick Cerone, Jesse Barfield, Jack Clark…

      Trading Al Leiter and Jose Rijo right before they become great…


  • Alex P.

    My absolute number 1 baseball pet-peeve is when small-market fans or even west coast fans assume that I know nothing about baseball because I root for the Yankees. They seem to have two offensive presumptions: 1.) They think we come out of the woodwork and become fans only when the team is one game away from the world series and then abnegate our fandom once the season is over. 2.) They think a Yankee fan’s intellectual grasp of the game is so shallow that it consists of essentially only two metrics: home runs and K’s.

    • JK

      That pretty much says it, Alex. Worse, they think homers and strikeouts are beyond our caveman capacity. They think we just count the money.

      Great to hear from you, dude…

  • Sam

    If it doesn’t bother you, why are you crying about it.
    Grow some.

    • JK

      Where am I crying, Sam? Indeed, I welcome the hatred. Just don’t call us Evil Empire in your Big Papi jersey…

    • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

      If you don’t want to read an article, don’t. Grow some.

  • StevEvil Empire

    Your calling the 80’s the “Desolate Decade”? Come on, The Yankees won MORE GAMES than any other team during the decade. They weren’t that bad, they just simply couldn’t pitch.

    I become a Yanks fan in 1973, but I really fell for them during the Eighties, with Mattingly, Winnfield, Henderson and Pags. That was a sick offensive team. Too bad we had George managing the pitching staff~

    It really didn’t get that bad until 88 and 89 and into the early ninties. I still watched and went to the games. Mets fans, I know what your going thru, lol!

    The Yankees will work to get the payroll down below the luxury tax number in 2014, and the fans crying about the “Evil Empire” will quiet down.

    • JK

      Since when were the Yankees judged on regular season wins, Steve? The 1980s was the only decade since Ruth when we didn’t win a title. That counts as starvation.

      • StevEvil Empire

        Got your point I guess I’m the eternal optimist~

        • JK

          Better to be optimistic when we’re winning titles, dude. ;)

    • Jonas Altman-Kurosaki

      I wish I could agree with you on that last bit, man, but no matter what the number after the dollar sign is, the crybabies who whine about the Yanks will always whine about the Yanks.

  • Matthew H Emma

    I couldn’t agree with your article more. I have several friends who are fans of the Red Sox and Phillies who always put forth the money argument towards the Yanks. For fans of those teams to complain about the Yankee payroll would be like Warren Buffet whining over Bill Gates’s wealth. The mere fact they can’t handle is the Yanks win more often than their teams do.

    • JK

      Thanks, Matthew. I don’t mind them hating us for myriad reasons, but money can’t be one of them. Bostonians so quickly forget their shopping spree last year, bagging Crawford and Gonzalez.

  • BrooklynPaulie

    Great piece!

    • JK

      Thanks, Paulie…

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