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The Yankees can fix baseball’s problems

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A World Series victory for the Yankees creates a common ground of hatred for the rest of the league.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s face it, the current state of baseball is, at best, divisive. There are disagreements over every matter of the game. Sabermetrics versus scouting, home runs against small ball, bat flips or quiet confidence. Pick an aspect of the game and you will find an animated chorus extolling its virtues while demonizing opposing views. In an hour such as this, we don’t need a beacon of hope to turn to, but a common enemy to loathe. We need the 2017 Yankees to win the World Series.

When Aaron Judge stepped onto the field in Miami for the Home Run Derby, he was met with a Bronx cheer. The boos rained down from the seats, cascading along the bright green walls, bouncing off Pitbull’s shiny head, and echoing against the big glass sheet in left field. Even though those boos quickly turned to cheers as he won over the crowd, it was a strangely comforting feeling while it lasted. We’ve seen nothing but adoration for Judge thus far. That’s just… odd.

I get it. The big man is modest, respectful, and awesome at his craft. He’s downright lovable. He’s still a Yankee, though. More so, he’s a Yankee who is terrorizing the league. Other fanbases shouldn’t be looking at Judge like a gentle giant who’s here to clean out the gutters. They should see an enormous, wobbly branch above your roof in a thunderstorm.

This isn’t a masochistic plea for other fans to hate Judge. He is simply a microcosm of a larger trend: people don’t hate the Yankees the way they used to. Clearly other fans still hate the Yankees. The intensity, though, isn’t the same. The simple reason is that there really hasn’t been that much to hate.

Over the past few seasons—with the exception of Alex Rodriguez—opposing fans haven’t had a lot of players to hang their angry hats on. Even if they had, players are just icing on the cake. The Yankees have won only one World Series in the past 17 years. Without that constant threat of a victory, that’s exactly what the Yankees have been: a pile of sugary hate-frosting.

So what needs to happen? How do we bring baseball together? Well, the Yankees need to start winning again. We need walk-off wins at the hands of fiery players like Clint Frazier, shutout pitching performances from the likes of CC Sabathia who has tormented the American League East for years, and of course, a 28th World Series banner.

New York has kept the rest of the league filled to the brim for nearly a century with envious World Series fury. The recent championship drought has left baseball hangry and now the rage, finger pointing, and unabashed scornfulness that used to be sent straight to the Bronx has been scattered to other places.

Growing up in the 90s, I very clearly understood the give-and-take of Yankee hatred. The Yankees won the World Series... a lot. People hated that. We loved feeling your envious hatred as much as you loved to spew it. Being on the receiving end of anger is nothing new to us. We walk around the hot city streets and ride in packed subway cars all day. That’s why this give-and-take works.

The contempt that baseball fans have toward other fans is problematic, but it’s also misdiagnosed. This anger is nothing more than misplaced Yankee hatred. Until that championship trophy finds its way back to the Bronx, that anger will continue to find the wrong homes. It’s up to the 2017 Yankees to become that common enemy the game needs. Sports are supposed to be escapism at its best. Baseball should help to alleviate the arguing, even if for a brief moment.

This is not a call for an end to political or social discourse. That’s a necessary component of our society. This is simply a call to be respectful, choose empathy over distrust, and remember that you all hate the Yankees. Let New York’s success on the diamond be all of our success in the wider community. A win for the Yankees is a win for baseball itself.

It starts with you this weekend, Boston. When Judge steps to the plate, we need you, old reliable, to do what you do best. Do not go gentle into that good night. Don’t see a lovable, MVP-caliber rookie. See a monster who just flipped all the fishing boats in Gloucester to steal your hidden barrels of chowder and crush them up like paper Dixie bathroom cups. This isn’t for you. It’s not for me. This is for all of us. It’s for the good of baseball.