Over the next two days, TYU will be running four guest posts from four excellent writers. The first comes from frequent RAB commenter Riddering, who some of you might recognize from Twitter as @riddering. Riddering was spurred to write by Will Leitch’s Yankees preview over at Deadspin yesterday. I greatly enjoyed reading the post, and I am sure you will too.
Early on in Spring Training this year Chan Ho Park experienced tightness in his glutes, pushing back his bullpen sessions. When he was questioned on it by various writers who cover the Yankees, he asked, “Is this big news?”
New York is different.
Over at Deadspin Will Leitch is writing a series of articles on each major league club as the regular season draws near. His article on the Yankees frames itself around the notion of Yankee Fans. They are not patient. They are not kind. They envy talents on other teams. They boast whenever possible. They are very proud. They are fans as long as the team is winning. The tears they shed after a championship only last so long before they harden themselves to conquer the next one. They trade away players who don’t please them.
–wait a minute. When did Yankee fans become George Steinbrenner? What unholy event granted the fandom his temperament and powers? I do not recall the fans of the New York Yankees trading Alfonso Soriano because he lacked the stoicism required to be part of the team. Surely had this been possible Carl Pavano would have been released rather than retained through his contract years.
Leitch confuses the Yankee machine of ownership, media, and fans. Oh, fans can be ornery—of that there is no doubt. However, there is only so much their displeasure can do. George Steinbrenner is the man who traded away certain players when they did not meet his immediate expectations. The media reports on every move the organization makes and often presents editorials on players, such as A-Rod, that can be misconstrued as being a report on the feelings of the fans.
Leitch makes another error in this article and this one more regrettable. Instead of following the data to a story, he excludes that which doesn’t confirm his profile of the typical Yankee fan. The results make the story much lesser than what could have been.
I believe that if Leitch had come into this article with a more open mind he would have found a better story to tell. That is the curious case of Yankee fans and how exactly a fan base is shaped by the World Championships its team has won.
“Until you win one, here, you’re nothing. (Unless you’re Don Mattingly.) Even if you have little to do with the outcome at all.”
Yankee fans only treasure those who win The Big One. This would be true if not for the list of players who are treasured even though they never won a championship in New York: Don Mattingly, as mentioned, Mike Mussina, Bobby Murcer, Aaron Boone, and Dave Winfield to name a few players. These men sustained excellence on the field with the Yankees or they just had the luck to run into one when the moment was grand enough to remain in people’s memories for years to come. All without taking home a championship for New York. Murcer, Mattingly, and Mussina unfortunately played in times when the Yankees weren’t conquering the world of baseball but they somehow managed to capture the loyalty of the fans. Winfield too missed out on a championship and was dubbed Mr. May by George Steinbrenner. Yet this Hall of Fame player is thought well of in his time in pinstripes. Captain Derek Jeter himself recalls Winfield being the player he idolized as a kid. Aaron Bleepin’ Boone won no ring in New York but no Yankee fan can hear his name mentioned without smiling.
Yet there’s no denying that the list of Yankee Legends with a ring is longer than the list of Yankee Legends without one.
Each team in baseball has its outstanding players, treasured by the fans and lifted up in legend by the franchise. However, when a team has won 27 championships in less than a century it becomes more difficult to extract players who were on the team for a significant period of time without winning a championship. If you’re a quality player on a team that wins the big one so very often the odds are in your favor. It’s a problem no Yankee fan would complain about but this is the chicken that came before the egg and those quick to criticize this fan base seem blind to the conundrum.
Do the Yankees have so many retired numbers because of the championships this team has won or do they have so many championships because of the players who possessed such talent to place their numbers on a wall and their likenesses in a monument?
How do you solve a problem like too many excellent players being fortunate enough to come together to use their excellence to win the ultimate prize in baseball?
We cannot determine whether or not certain Yankee figures would be so appreciated had they not won a single World Championship. Perhaps in an alternate universe there is a beloved Yogi Berra who possesses not a ring for one finger nor such a quality bat nor teammates such as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. It’s true that if you ask a Yankee fan of any age to name their favorite Yankee you’re more than likely to hear a player who possesses a ring. Yet this is no “Aha!” moment. It’s just the likelihood of the odds from this, the winningest franchise in sports history.
There might be a few hipster Yankee fans out there who dismiss the winners and instead wear names such as Balboni or Pipp on their backs but let’s not get distracted by outliers.
Where does all this winning leave the modern Yankee fan, victim of winning circumstance and misrepresentation?
We Yankee fans have the history to know the team has won a World Series Championship every ~3.2 years since 1923. Odds were in the past that if you played in New York long enough you’d get yourself a ring but that’s no guarantee for the present or the next ten years and it’s not a value we can use to project the future of the franchise or the quality of its players. We shouldn’t take that for granted. To achieve the ultimate goal in professional baseball all it takes is a moment—sometimes. At other times a career of talent and desire cannot be enough.
Let’s not fulfill this prophecy of Yankee fans suffering from Steinbrennerism. For 2010 let’s make sure we aren’t judging Javier Vazquez based on one bad pitch amidst a career of quality innings. Let’s not come to the season and the new players with a narrative already in mind. Let’s allow it to be played and evaluated as the games unfold.
How about we show we’re better at analyzing our team than Will Leitch is at analyzing its fans?
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- Christina on Game Thread: Angels versus Yankees, Saturday July 14th
- walkfit platinum reviews on The TYA staff on the Yankees’ television and radio broadcast teams
- essentialtexting.com on Open Thread | Game 3 | Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees | Sunday, April 3, 2011
- www25.tok2.com on Sabermetrics Doesn’t Have A Monopoly on Not-Stupid: Mike Trout is the AL MVP
- グッチ 財布 on Sunday Links-Joba’s Timetable, Comparing eras, Pineda
- raspberry ketone diet 1200 on Sabermetrics Doesn’t Have A Monopoly on Not-Stupid: Mike Trout is the AL MVP
- Free riot codes on Off-Topic
- Fran on The Great Subway Race
- sleeping bag hand Orientation on What about Austin Romine?
- camping stove heat diffuser on What about Austin Romine?
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees