We’re all here for the same reason — we love the New York Yankees. When all is said and done, the reason we keep drifting back to this site as writers or readers, the reason we can get into such passionate debates, it’s all because of that one simple fact. We enjoy watching baseball, and for whatever our individual reasons are, we’ve chosen to enjoy this club more than any other.
The beauty in that is we all have different ways we show our support for the team. There’s no one way to fan, and I’ll never knock anyone for how they choose to fan. Still though, fandom is not without its cautionary tales. Fandoms of any kind have the potential to be toxic.
Fandoms can lead to abuse, harassment, and even violence. I love the idea that people can feel so passionate about something, but I hate where that passion can drive them. It’s generally one particular “branch” of fandom that can take it to an extreme level; the ones who will blindly follow and love anything the object of their fandom does.
I’ve never shied away from being critical of the Yankees when I felt the need. I choose to fan in a way that allows me to love the team but still identify their flaws. I just want the best in what I root for, so my criticisms always stem from a place where I see room for growth and improvement. That’s what this past winter highlighted to me the most.
This offseason we’ve seen a number of passionate debates stemming from the moves the Yankees chose to make or not make. We can all agree they spent some money, but it’s how they chose to allocate those funds that’s been a hot button issue. For years we were sold the idea of waiting until this offseason so the team can go nuts. “Nuts” is now J.A. Happ, Brett Gardner, DJ LeMahieu, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, CC Sabathia, and the apparently re-animated corpse of Troy Tulowitzki.
The defense we heard for spending on them instead of some other higher-end talent was that the team had a good young core and money saved now could be used to lock up that talent. Admittedly, I was hesitant at first that they would do that, but it’s happening to some extent.
Over the past few weeks, the Yankees have announced extensions with Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks. Yet something about these deals just doesn’t sit right with me. Severino’s extension really just buys out the rest of his arbitration years and possibly one free agent year at a team-friendly rate. They locked Hicks up for a long time, but he probably just agreed to what is also considered a team-friendly deal because he was scared.
It reeks of the Yankees taking advantage of a terrible market. The moves make great business sense, but I don’t root for them for their business acumen. I watch the Yankees to see their baseball players win games. I want the players to get as much money as possible. I know that won’t happen, and owners have every right to run a business, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with that. Besides, the Yankees have a history of taking advantage of unsavory situations. That’s why both Aroldis Chapman and Gleyber Torres play for the Yankees right now.
I understand that the Yankees have to run themselves as a business, but I don’t want to hear a team executive tell me which seat I do or do not belong in. It also doesn’t mean I’m going to love them going to arbitration to bash their players just to save a few bucks, money that amounts to pocket change for them. While whatever they’d save would be a large sum on its own, to a team as rich as the Yankees, it’s nothing. Sure, it’s a great business move, but if I cared about business moves so much I’d go be an Amazon or Walmart fan.
That’s why I get angry when Yankees use the business side of things to prevent themselves from being the best they could be. They can afford to do both, yet they choose to make sure they get that extra profit. As a fan, I just don’t care. I want to see the best players play for my team and I want to see my team win games. That’s what I care about. It’s why I can love the team yet I feel comfortable criticizing them.
I wish I could blindly love them and any decisions they make, but that’s just not me. When I choose to care about something, I want the very best for that thing. I can find ways to be happy about the team and their decisions, but I’d like it so much more if I didn’t have to dig to find those reasons.
A lot of people use sports as their escape from the harsh realities of life. They devote themselves to this cause so they can ignore any other problems with their work or personal lives for a few hours. It brings them joy to see their teams win, and they latch on to those moments to get them to the next moment.
I get that train of thought. I do the same thing with movies and television; I like to get lost in stories and fantasy. That’s why I don’t discredit the people who use sports for that purpose, I almost envy them. Still, though, I want the people who make those stories I like to get lost in to be easy to root for. I want them to do the right thing. And even if I don’t use sports in the same way, I want the same from my favorite teams.
That’s why I can get so easily frustrated by the decisions of the organization, but that doesn’t mean I need to leave or find another team. Is it so wrong to want to root for the best both on and off the field?
There’s no one true way to be a fan. The only common thing about fandom is that it all stems from love of the same thing. We all love the New York Yankees, but the way I’ve chosen to love them wants me to see the best of them.