Well before the Yankees actually won their 27th World Series title last night, the chorus of haters had already begun their familiar refrain: There go the Yankees again, buying another World Series. Implicit was the idea that cheering for this team is joyless, or, as the old line goes, like rooting for U.S. Steel. So let’s clear a few things up. Yes, rooting for the Yankees is a bit different than rooting for, say, the Cleveland Indians. But trust us, winning the World Series is every bit as sweet.
First of all, remember that lots of Yankees fans are Yankees fans because, well, they’ve always been Yankees fans. By this we mean: We were cheering for this team long before we knew what the word “parity” meant, or what a salary threshold was, or that some teams spent more than others (or even that this mattered). If you decided as an adult to be a Yankees fan in 2000 because, hey, they seemed to be winning the World Series a lot, this post isn’t about you. But the rest of us just happen to root for the team that spends more than others. That doesn’t make our fandom any less sincere.
A common criticism of Yankees fans is that we feel entitled, that we believe we deserve only the best players, and that it’s World Series or bust. This criticism has at least some merit. But can you blame us? We have to spend more on tickets, and we have to plan out which games we’re going to attend in March if, God forbid, we want to sit in the upper deck without going to StubHub. And that’s before the price-gouging at the stadium itself even starts. So when the Yankees outspend some teams five-to-one, it’s hard to feel guilty. We’re not saying that we shouldn’t feel guilty. We just don’t. If the rules are going to allow it, they’d better at least put that money to use and buy up some shiny new players. Would a salary cap be good for baseball? Sure. But don’t hate the player. Hate the game.
But that’s almost beside the point. We don’t come to defend how the organization goes about its business; we come to defend how we fans go about ours. And here’s the other thing to keep in mind about being a Yankees fan: Everyone hates you. We’re not talking about Red Sox fans, or even Mets fans, who have perfectly valid reasons for loathing everything the Yankees stand for. We’re talking about fans in Texas, or Toronto, or really just about anywhere else. If winning the World Series is somehow less exciting the fifth time around, it’s offset by how much more we’re reviled, which in turn makes it that much sweeter to win.
Though to be totally honest, when your team is hoisting the trophy and spraying Champagne, you’re not thinking of any of this. Watching your team win the World Series is an awesome experience whether you’re a Yankees fan, a Phillies fan, or, yes, even a Red Sox fan. We’re going to party this week like it’s 1996. We’re the Evil Empire, and we’re proud of it.