Tuesday, August 3, 2010
There are 29 other teams out there
Yankees fans sometimes guess why fans of other teams hate the Yankees. Most of the time they guess that it's because other fans are jealous of the Yankees' success, the team's talent, and the amount of money they have to spend.
There's truth to that, but using that reason is too easy. When Yankees fans say that, they're really complimenting their own team and absolving the Yankees from all blame at the same time. And that's because many of them can't stop turning the conversation into "all Yankees greatness all the time." No introspection. No admissions. So charming.
And that is probably what irritates me the most about the Yankees and many of their fans. Not only do they care too much about their own team -- like it's the only team on the planet -- but they do it so much that they're utterly clueless about the other teams in baseball.
That's what makes Michael Kay, the leading play-by-play announcer for the Yankees' superstation, YES, the perfect figurehead for the team's many fans. Because he's often behaving in a condescending manner to other team's players. I don't know how many times he's made a ridiculous observation about an opposing player and I've screamed at the television, "EVERYONE KNOWS THAT, YOU TWIT!!!!"
The latest example was with Lance Berkman, who actually isn't an opposing player, but a new acquisition by the Yankees.
Kim Jones, the YES network's sideline reporter, was doing her on-air bit about the new player, clueing viewers into who Berkman is. I sat stunned as Jones recited basic facts about Berkman that practically any baseball fan would know -- or at least should know. Then Jones got to Berkman's nicknames. He actually has two of them, Jones said, giddy with what she was about to say. Then she revealed them, as if she was breaking the biggest secret on the planet.
Berkman's nicknames are "The Big Puma" and "Fat Elvis," she said with a giggle in her voice. She added that Lance didn't care which nickname was used and that he didn't mind either one.
Kay, in his usual clueless manner, grilled Jones over the nicknames, incredulous that Berkman would allow anyone to call him "Fat Elvis."
Meanwhile, I was practically bubbling over in my chair as I listened.
"WAS EVERYONE IN NEW YORK IN A COMA DURING THE 2005 WORLD SERIES????!!!!" I said.
Kay continued on with his discovery of how cooperative Berkman was with the media, and how friendly he was. Like, Jones, Kay acted like he had unearthed a centuries old secret. Berkman cooperative and friendly? Who knew?
I couldn't stand it. They were talking about a guy who had played in the majors for 10 years, was a five-time All-Star, had a career batting average over .300 until this year, had played in a World Series, and had hit more than 300 career home runs. And the crack staff at YES was acting like he was a rookie just called up from Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
"THIS ..." I yelled. "IS WHY PEOPLE HATE THE YANKEES. PAY A LITTLE ATTENTION TO THE 29 OTHER TEAMS THAT REVOLVE AROUND YOUR PRECIOUS TEAM."
(This was the point where my daughter, in her "everything is going to be all right voice," said: "Dad, dad, calm down ... it's just baseball. Calm down.")
I know what people are going to say. That's just YES. They're TV buffoons. Blah, blah.
I'd agree, but I've dealt with this same mind-set my whole life. I'm still not over Yankees fans acting like Bucky Dent was the greatest shortstop in baseball. That would be mere homerism, if it wasn't combined with them not even having a hint of an idea of who Robin Yount and Alan Trammell were.
And this scenario has played itself out over and over and over again. "Hey, I just saw that Matt Kemp guy on TV. He looks pretty good. The Yankees should try to get him."
Yankees fans are always getting credit on YES for their knowledge of the game. I just wish a few more of them knew and respected players on other teams.
Listen, I'm a Dodger fan. And there are many fans of teams like the Padres and Giants who say some Dodger fans behave toward them like Yankees fans behave toward the rest of major league baseball.
I agree. I'm sure there are a few. There are those kinds of fans with every team. I, personally, like the idea of dismissing the Padres and Giants because their histories just can't match the Dodgers. But I do know their teams' players and respect them -- some of them anyway.
It's just SO PERVASIVE with the Yankees. Ignoring the opponent seems almost like a prerequisite for rooting for the team. I am pretty certain that there are a few Yankee fans who have no idea who Miguel Cabrera is, and if Cabrera wins the A.L. MVP award over Robinson Cano, they'll get all obnoxious.
Here is a prime example of the insular nature of some Yankee fans: Too many damn people in New York are obsessed with when A-Rod is going to hit his 600th home run.
I, like a lot of people, couldn't care less when he hits it or if he hits it. It means nothing to at least 80 percent of the people who follow baseball. In fact, if it helps the Yankees lose a few more games, I hope he never hits it and the New York media talks about it forever.
Maybe then some players on some of those other 29 teams will sneak up on them in the playoffs and the Yankees won't know what hit them, because everyone spent the last two months worried about Alex Rodriguez.
That probably won't happen, because I think the Yankees' team knows who those others guys and those other 29 teams are.
Now, if they would only clue in the New York fans and the media, I could stop yelling at my TV.