There are two types of baseball fans.
There are those who love the New York Yankees. Then there is everybody else, the overwhelming majority of whom positively loathe the Yankees, their fans and pretty much everything they stand for.
Some of that ill will doubtlessly extends from the franchise’s overwhelming success. The Yankees’ 27 World Series titles are far and away the most in the history of the sport.
But that engenders hatred for other reasons, too. The fans bring a lot of that on by wielding the phrase “27 championships” like a bludgeon.
Let a fan of another team say they like their team’s chances to win and it is likely that somewhere in the course of that conversation, a Yankee fan will come forward and simply say or write, “27 championships.”
It does make it hard to have reasonable, rational discourse when all that one side of the conversation wants to do is keep repeating the same fact.
But 40 years of Yankee fandom has exposed something else, something more insidious. It’s something that makes a lot of that vitriol coming from other places easier to understand.
Yankee fans can be unbelievably spoiled and not just by the success the franchise has enjoyed. The Yankees’ history of big spending in free agency has created an atmosphere in which fans of the team start to view every other franchise as some sort of department store in spikes.
Since the World Series ended, I have read Yankee fans enthusiastically endorsing things that have absolutely no chance of happening in the real world.
Those things would include:
—Signing free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.
—Signing free-agent pitcher Zach Greinke.
—Trading for catcher Buster Posey.
—Trading for pitcher David Price.
—Trading for outfielder Andrew McCutcheon.
—Signing or trading for every single player in baseball, declaring the franchise World Series champions for life and building a permanent 75-foot tall replica of the Commissioner’s Trophy outside Yankee Stadium.
OK, so one of those was made up.
One commenter on this story about the Yankees’ offseason plans and the proposed $189 million payroll for 2014 even went this far:
"If you were a true Yankee you wouldn't support 189 million."
Obviously a fan of the Yankees couldn’t support a front office that is only willing to spend more than any other franchise in baseball spent on its payroll in 2012. Or at least that was the opinion expressed by the fan quoted above.
There will be some adjustments necessary as the payroll is trimmed. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Yankees already have $68.125 million committed for 2014 on just three players (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia). That total could rise to if Derek Jeter opts to exercise his player option for 2014, currently valued at $9.5 million.
Under the proposed payroll plan, that would leave roughly $120 million to fill 21 roster spots. That presents a challenge, particularly for an organization that is short on major-league ready prospects down on the farm.
There might even be a 2-to-4 year period during which the farm system is rebuilt and restocked at the expense of the big-league club. It might even mean missing the postseason a time or two—an outcome that would mortify Yankee fans and delight the rest of the country, more than likely.
But if it means getting the pieces in place down on the farm to create the core of the next Yankee dynasty, there are a significant number of New York Yankee fans who would be OK with this.
And then there are those other ones; the ones the rest of the baseball-loving public love to hate.