Fans throughout the country hate the New York Yankees. In a lot of ways, it’s part of the team’s identity. But that doesn’t mean that Yankees fans don’t have some hate vessels in the rest of the league. So who do they hate the most? I’ve compiled a list of players that I think are the most popular to hate in the Bronx.
Once upon a time, David Ortiz would have been a Yankees fan’s most hated opponent: a power-hitting slugger from the evil Boston Red Sox who has largely been ignored by the anti-PED brigade despite allegedly being included on the Mitchell Report for testing positive in 2003.
Of course, a lot of that hatred dissipated after he was shot in the Dominican Republic last June — after all, it’s kind of hard to feel that emotionally antagonistic about a guy who had to fight for his life. Nonetheless, he remains emblematic of an era of Boston Red Sox history that Yankee fans loathe more than hatred itself, so the idea of him as a player remains on this list.
Most Yankees fans have hated Joe Kelly ever since April 11, 2018, when he drilled Tyler Austin, apparently in retaliation for a hard slide into Brock Holt earlier in the game, and triggering a large brawl. It is a fight that my Boston-aligned friends like to highlight any time Kelly’s name comes up, despite the fact that Tyler Austin’s own momentum, and not Kelly’s fighting skills, was what sent him to the turf.
Personally, however, my hatred for Kelly goes further back, back when he was a starting pitcher. Making the start against the Yankees in prime time (I believe it was May 3, 2015, although I have not been able to verify it completely), the announcers refused to stop praising Kelly’s ability, calling him a future Cy Young winner. And they kept this up as the Yankees pegged him for (if I have the game correct) five runs, knocking him out of the game in the 5th.
In truth, there’s probably not a player in Major League Baseball that I have more irrational hate for than Joe Kelly, and I think quite a bit of Yankees fans feel the same.
Arguably no player who has never donned pinstripes has caused more division in the Yankees fanbase than Manny Machado. You either love him as a player, with his Gold Glove level defense at third, ability to play shortstop when needed, and a bat that has ranged from above-average at worst to elite at best, or you can’t stand him. And if you can’t stand him, it’s probably due to his infamous “Hustling is not my cup of tea” quote (personally, I don’t blame his on-field ability for that, but I do question whether or not he likes the taste of his own cleats, as he puts his foot in his mouth relatively often).
Look, I wasn’t happy when Robinson Cano signed with the Seattle Mariners. But why are we blaming him for taking the best contract that he could get, when the Yankees’ offer was not even close! If they were almost identical, then maybe I’d understand the hate, but seriously?
And let’s be real: just like Manny Machado, Robinson Cano had a reputation as somebody who “didn’t hustle,” which seems kind of ridiculous to me when you’re talking about a player with eight All-Star appearances, six top-10 finishes in the MVP voting, two Gold Glove awards, and five Silver Sluggers, and who posted an OPS+ above 114 for 12 of his 15 career seasons so far. But monikers given early in a guy’s career easily stick long-term, and unfortunately for Cano, that one came early.
Still, Yankees fans prefer to remember him not even for that, but because he “sold out.” Sure, I’m mostly happy with the way our timeline has gone — the Yankees may not end up with Gleyber Torres without Cano walking in free agency — but you’re not hearing other teams blasting their former players for taking good contracts.
The Entire Houston Astros Roster
Need I say more? First off, the Astros have been the Yankees’ biggest rival this decade, eliminating them from the playoffs three times in the last 5 years. On top of that, what was once a likable young team became very hated very quickly, thanks to Justin Verlander’s hypocrisy and Yulieski Gurriel’s racist gestures at Yu Darvish. That “fun” young core, furthermore, got extremely cocky extremely quickly, and then Trevor Bauer’s constant insinuations that the Astros pitching staff was up to no good brought them a bit more into the spotlight.
And oh, who can forget the story of the offseason, the cheating scandal, that turned the Yankees into the second most-hated team in all of baseball, or their half-hearted, mis-guided, if-it-was-a-first-grader-they’d-still-be-in-detention-for-not-apologizing “apology,” which seems to have taken more inspiration from Plato’s Apology than, you know, what we tend to think of when we hear the word “apology.”
Can you tell I’m still angry about it? I’m sure most of baseball is, too.
Our Own Players
No matter how much Yankees fans hate the Astros, however, there’s no denying it: Yankees fans hate their own players more than anybody. Giancarlo Stanton, Clint Frazier, and Gary Sanchez are just three guys currently on the roster on the receiving end of a lot of vitriol from the fan base, and I’m sure if I dive into the dark side of Twitter, somewhere next to the corpse of Palpaltine I’ll find a Twitter account that loathes Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres but claims to be a Yankees fan.
It’s the nature of it; Yankees fans are very demanding, and have no patience for any perceived mistake. All this combines to make Yankees fans hate their own players more than anybody else.