Why do you root for your favorite sports team? Is it because you live in the city where they play? Because your parents followed the team, and you were born and raised watching the games and following their teams? Is it because you were watching the playoffs in your college dorm and fell in love with one of the teams, for whatever reason?
Everybody has their own fan backstory. Each is one-of-a-kind, unique to every fan, and sharing them is a great way to bring fans of all backgrounds together. And the best part is, nobody questions them - since it's all personal, the emotional attachment we all have to our different teams is what makes watching the games and interacting with other fans as much fun as they are.
Well, that's almost true. There is one fanbase that, time and time again, you're questioned - no, challenged - "Them? Why do you root for them?" One fanbase where, no matter who you are or what you do, you are always misunderstood: the New York Yankees.
At first glance, this seems ridiculous; the most popular team in the country is also the misunderstood? But the night of the AL Wild Card game, something got me thinking. Somebody posted on Yik-Yak, an "anonymous local-area twitter" very common on college campuses, that he, a diehard Yankees fan, wanted to congratulate the Royals on their exciting Wild Card win and wished them luck in the playoffs." A rather innocent post, in my opinion, one among many about that game. And yet, somebody commented back to him something along the lines of, "Why do you #@&!*@#% root for that piece of #@#!^ team? Why don't you root for the Royals or another exciting team all the time?"
Although I did not post that, the comment bothered me - what difference does it make to you what team I root for? Why do you care? And that got me thinking about how there really is a lot of Yankees hatred around these days. For example, anyone who follows the popular Facebook page MLB Memes will know that there are more posts mocking the Yankees than any other type of post, and every single picture or status update, no matter what it is about, will always have at least one comment of "Yankees suck," and it will always be among the top-liked comments. Heck, there's even a musical titled "Damn Yankees" that centers on beating the New York Yankees. Make no mistake about it, baseball fans love to hate the Yankees.
To an extent, it makes sense, as it comes with the territory: the Yankees often spend ludicrous amounts of money, especially to sign the best free agents; despite relative financial responsibility in recent years, the team still has this free-spender reputation and will still occasionally use its financial strength. Understandably, this angers the fanbases that these players used to play for (although, amusingly, most fans would love for their team to be in a position to do the exact same thing). No, my issue is not about hatred towards the team, but hatred towards the fans.
Let's start with the stereotypical Yankees fans, who look like this:
Your stereotypical so-called Yankees fans
They are loud, obnoxious, and ignorant, who flash their money with their arrogant New York attitudes, and respond condescendingly with "But we have 27 rings!" to every criticism. Right here, let me clear the air - these types of "Yankees" fans, we hate them too; we call them annoying bandwagon fans who identify with the team but do not follow baseball much, if at all. They know little about the team, and even their main "comeback" is wrong, as any diehard fan knows, the Yankees have 26 World Series rings and 1 World Series pocketwatch. These are not fans; but unfortunately, they are the people who fill the seats at Yankee Stadium, because true fans simply cannot afford the sky-high ticket prices.
That said, as with all stereotypes, there is some truth behind it, even with real fans. Yes, Yankees fans are loud, obnoxious, and often arrogant, and very passionate about our team; we have, after all, the Bleacher Creatures. But that is because we are New Yorkers, not because we are Yankees fans. New Yorkers are loud and obnoxious by nature. We walk fast, we talk fast; we jaywalk, stare down taxis while crossing against the light, and cram ourselves onto subways packed like sardines. We have tourists and send them off to Times Square so they're out of our way, because no New Yorker ever goes near Times Square. We complain about the very good, because we demand everything to be perfect, because we are the best city in the world and thus deserve perfection. It's not an opinion, it's a fact. That is who we are; that is New York.
New Yorkers hate coming in second in anything: we must have the best pizza, the most delicious bagels, the most popular and longest-running plays, the greatest economy, the most beautiful and well-attended churches. And that extends to our sports - we don't want good sports teams. We demand the best teams, and we wil go to the ends of the Earth to make them. That doesn't mean that we stop following if the team is not doing well - on the contrary, 2013 and 2014 were two of the most interesting seasons in recent memory for fans - or that we ignore a Yankees-free postseason. We engage with other fans, and we enjoy the games, even if our team isn't playing.
The thing is, if we don't win the final baseball game of the postseason however, and bring home another championship, we consider the season a failure for the team, and expect changes to be made. And our attitude is, if that makes us hated throughout the baseball world...so what?
Being the villains is what makes New York baseball so much fun.