Last year, during a friend's birthday gathering, they had a Mets game and a Yankees game on at the bar we were at. One of our friends came up to me and said how easy it was to be a Yankees fan, and I promptly replied "It really is" without hesitation. It wasn't always this way though. Back before the Yankees started down the path to darkness, the 80's and early 90's loomed over us. Then they started winning. For a time it was a really awesome story. Very few teams had done what the Yankees were doing in the late 90's. Then they signed Roger Clemens and the admiration had turned to vitriol. As Harvey Dent said, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
The truth of the matter is that, unlike most sports, the 162 game baseball season is a story and every story needs a villain. This is obviously where the Yankees come in. As we all know, they are the Evil Empire. Baseball now needs them to be the villain at all times, regardless of who's on the team or what the situation is. Fans of other teams need someone to root against, someone for their underdog of a team to defeat. The Yankee organization is evil. Their front office is corrupt. The players on the Yankees clearly embrace the dark side of the force, which comes with a shiny ring and a pinstriped Star Destroyer that gets much better mileage than the pinstriped Prius.
If you watched last night's game you could hear the showers of boos that were voiced upon Yankees second baseman, and all around sexy swinger, Robinson Cano. Apparently they are still not over the injustice of last year's All Star Game Billy Butler "incident," if you can even call it that. It's a year later and Cano is still hearing it. I don't know about you, but I revel in it because, not only do I find it amusing, but I just love the fact that Cano is the bad guy in all of this. Just look at his face and that smile of his. It's clearly the mark of a true villain.
We see stories about how the Yankees' attendance is down, how many empty seats there are, and people seem to be loving it. Meanwhile, I have watched many different teams play all year long and I don't see that many fans in their stadiums either. The Marlins just closed the upper deck. I was at Citi Field yesterday and outside of the main food area, behind home plate, in the upper deck, all other concession stands were closed. On a Friday night. Only with the Yankees does it seem to be a story because they are the Evil Empire. I guess the frontrunners are just Storm Troopers: easy to get rid of and easy to acquire more.
It's funny how much baseball and other teams need the Yankees, not just for the money they bring into the stadiums, but because just the idea of them losing and being defeated is intoxicating. Even Yankee fans seem to relish the idea of it just to have their doubts finally proven right. "I told you so" is fun to say, after all. There's a reason ESPN writes so many articles about the Yankees untimely demise. It's because fans like to read about it. It makes for an entertaining story. Not always a well thought out or factually accurate story, mind you. Just an entertaining one, which is what baseball is all about.
Keeping everything I just said in mind, this year must be driving the rebellion nuts. The Yankees have been bruised, battered, and downright broken. They are having an injury plagued season like a good majority of teams have had in the past. They signed Lyle Overbay, gave him three days to make the team, and now he's hitting dingers and shooting Force Lightning with the best of them. Vernon Wells was frowned upon by just about everyone due to his past Angels performance. Now look at him. Jayson Nix is nixing almost every single RBI opportunity he is presented with and the Yankees somehow still win. Injuries seemed to blow up the Death Star and Cashman has just built another one.
A lot of people naturally root for the underdog. It makes for a good story. Even more so than in 2011, the Yankees are the underdog this year. They were predicted to finish in the bottom, along with the Red Sox, and here we are, tied for first with them. Can the Yankees be considered the scrappy underdog to defeat the 2013 World Series Champion Blue Jays? Obviously not, because that would make a boring story. Or would it? After all, The Empire Strikes Back is considered the best Star Wars movie.
Oh, and switch the lineup music at Yankee Stadium.
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