Aaron Leibowitz | The Fan
The Yankee blues
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 08:10
Confession: I’m jealous of Yankee fans. Have been my whole life. As a Mets fan from New York, the feeling is natural — their team wins a lot, and mine does not.
Over the years, this envy has manifested itself in an abhorrence of all things Bronx Bombers: their stupid nickname, their joke of a stadium, their faux−classy image, their incompetent announcers, their entitled attitude, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher.
“Hate” is a strong word. I hate the Yankees.
And yet, this past weekend, something strange happened. I still hated the Yankees, but I felt something toward their fans that I’m not sure I ever had before: pity.
No, not because the almighty Derek Jeter got hurt — Mets players could miss three months in their sleep. And no, not because the Yankees fell behind 2−0 to the Tigers in the ALCS — honestly, I hope they get swept.
I pitied Yankee fans because they’re never happy.
The Yankees are the most successful franchise in sports. They are playing in the postseason for the 17th time in 18 years, and this season they finished first in a division with three 90−win teams. Last week, they won a thrilling divisional series against the Orioles thanks to a pitching staff that allowed just 10 runs in five games.
If my team did all of those things, well, it wouldn’t be my team.
I know the pinstripe response: “We hold our team to a higher standard. It’s championship or bust.”
This approach is admirable, and it’s certainly hard to argue with 27 rings. But it’s a mindset that leads to frequent disappointment and an inability to cope with failure, both of which have been on display over the past few days.
On Saturday, as the Yankees were making a breathtaking four−run comeback in the bottom of the ninth, entire sections of their stadium had been vacated by fans trying to “beat the traffic” — or, in other words, fans convinced the Yankees didn’t have a comeback in them.
Now, with the Bombers down 2−0, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are littered with cries that the Yankees’ season is over, that they can’t do it without Jeter, that they’re miserable to watch, that their offense stinks, and that they’re getting screwed by the umpires.
In reality, the Yankees are a good team that’s going through a rough patch offensively. It happens, and it’s not the end of the world, let alone the season. They can still come back — they’re the Yankees. You shouldn’t need a Mets fan to tell you that.
After the New York Giants won the Super Bowl in February, I sat down to watch their victory parade on TV. As local reporters interviewed the fans there, I noticed two distinct types of attitudes. One was the I−can’t−believe−we−won−I’m−gonna−soak−this−all−in attitude. The other was the hooray−we−won−now−let’s−repeat−babyyy attitude.
The former were Mets fans. The latter were Yankee fans.
Just days after the Giants had won their second title in five years — both against the Patriots, no less — only a Yankee fan would have the nerve to think about a repeat. A Mets fan — and anyone in their right mind, for that matter — would stop and appreciate the moment. After all, winning a championship is rare: even the Yankees have done it just once in the last 11 years.
And so, yes, I feel kind of sorry for Yankee fans. The jealousy will never go away, nor will the frustration of rooting for the less successful baseball team in New York.
But if I ever catch myself wishing I were one of them, I’ll just remind myself that success doesn’t always amount to happiness.
Aaron Leibowitz is a junior who is majoring in American studies. He can be reached at Aaron.Leibowitz@tufts.edu.