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: Keidel.firstname.lastname@example.org
Should Phillies and Red Sox fans stop complaining about the Yankees’ payroll? Sound off in the comments below…