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People Hate The Yankees -
And It's Great For Baseball

Even though I grew up a hardcore Orioles fan, believe it or not, there are times when I actually feel for Yankees fans.

Not the frontrunners, the so-called fans who decided to become Yankees fans because they want to dish out trash. I’m talking about people who grew up rooting for the Yankees, who at least have something of a palpable justification for their heresy (grin).

The reason I sometimes—not very often, just sometimes—feel for Yankees fans is because they’re the only fans whose team never accepts anything less than total victory.

Go to almost any other team’s ballpark and you’ll see flags for the seasons where they won the wildcard spot, or a division title in a four or five team division. I don’t think the Yankees have such flags visible in Yankee them that’s a loss of a season.

Even as 27-time World Champions, the Yankees fall short of a championship more often than they win it. That’s heartbreaking for any fan, but to come close many times and lose the most important games at the end—which believe it or not, the Yankees have done quite a bit since 2001—is rough on a fan, no matter how many rings your team has won.

And as much as Yankees fans crow about their team being the most successful in any major sport, they know it’s going to come back at them whenever they fail to win a World Series.

The Yankees win more than anyone else—a lot more than anyone else—and that is of course the main reason why fans of every other team hate them.

Oh, their fans play a part; ask any Orioles fan who’s been to Camden Yards while the Yankees are in town. But you don’t often see fans of another team get riled up over those $%&@!(# Phillies, with the possible exception of Nationals fans. Being the first baseball team to reach 10,000 losses makes the Phillies a far easier target.

Hating a sports team is probably not a productive emotion. But it’s a powerful one, and I’m as susceptible to it as anyone. And it makes for great excitement watching the game.

Orioles fans and Red Sox fans and Rays fans especially love to see the Yankees get beat. Fans of other teams don’t seem to mind it much either. I have talked to many, many fans who don’t care who wins the World Series so long as it isn’t the Yankees, and that beyond the entire Boston metropolitan area. If you aren’t seeing your favorite team win, the next best thing is seeing the team you dislike the most lose.

And it’s great for baseball. One need only look at NASCAR these days to see why. NASCAR has been in a continuous and steady decline. One reason, in my opinion, is the loss of rivalries.

The most popular drivers in 2015 were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon (who is now retired), Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart (who is retiring in 2016), and they were, for all intents and purposes, teammates. Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., especially in the years following Dale Sr.’s death, was the last great rivalry in NASCAR. Kyle Busch vs. Brad Keselowski just doesn’t come close.

Add to that an extended push from the heads of NASCAR for parity, and no one driver dominates anymore. Jimmie Johnson may have won six titles, but he hasn’t won any of them in convincing, dominating many cases he simply got hot during the “Chase” playoff (another strong reason for the sport’s decline). It’s not the same as when Dale Earnhardt or Jeff Gordon were the dominant drivers in the sport.

That’s why the Yankees are great for baseball. Baseball has its problems with competitive balance, but they’ve been smart enough not to go overboard going for parity in the sport, and as a result the Yankees spend whatever it takes to build a team that is nothing short of championship caliber.

Is that a reason to want more than anything to see them lose? Perhaps. But we’re watching.

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