Whether you are a Sox fan, Cubs fan, Cardinals fan or Bears fan, the baseball world seems to be able to agree on one thing – it hates the Yankees.
Now, there will of course always be the exceptions to that rule, which can be found in that guy whose defense is, “No dude, I’ve always loved the Yankees!”
Another common type of Yankee-sympathizer was that guy in your high school who rotated his Derek Jeter T-shirt in with his New England Patriots hoodie and Kobe jersey.
However, I think the overall disdain for the Yanks is now, more than ever, great enough to award them the first-ever “D.J. Piehowski Most Hated Team in Sports Award.”
In considering the candidates for this award, it was important to remember to put personal rivalries and biases aside and really look into what it is that makes the Yankees put that bad taste in the mouth of everyone in America.
The obvious first thing that springs to mind is the Yankees’ gargantuan payroll.
In a time where the word “economy” is used roughly every five to six seconds, the Yankees went out and made off-season moves this winter that turned the heads of baseball fans all across the country.
By signing stud veteran CC Sabathia to a seven-year contract worth $161 million, and free agent slugger Mark Teixeira to a $180 million deal over eight years, the Bronx Bombers have mounted a total payroll of $201,449,289 for 2009. That major-league leading number is nearly $66 million higher than the second-place Mets and nearly $165 million higher than the last place Florida Marlins.
To further put things in perspective, if the Marlins started signing players and paying them the Yankees’ average salary, they would only be able to afford a four-man team.
By making these types of caution-be-damned moves, there is no way everyone in baseball and the better part of the universe, will not be cheering against the Yankees this year.
Another big key in America’s hatred for this team lies in the fact that, unlike years past, the Yankees seem to have put the pieces in place to make a legitimate championship run in 2009.
Sabathia put up one of the most dominant pitching stretches in major league history last year with the Brewers and Teixeira has already been a star with a number of teams. Now add into the mix A.J. Burnett, who flirted with a no-hitter Tuesday night, and the immensely-hyped prospect Joba Chamberlain, as well as a supporting cast that features solid contributors such as Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and arguably the best player in baseball – Alex Rodriguez.
With all of the above-mentioned reasons feeding the world’s hate for the Yankees, I think there is actually some good that could come out of the construction of this baseball superpower. Baseball fans everywhere can join together in their pinstripe-fueled loathing.
Since the AL East is so stacked with good teams, the Yankees may not be the runaway favorite, but they are, perhaps more importantly, the team we absolutely cannot let win.
Without a doubt, 2008’s story of the year was the Tampa Bay Rays and its unlikely ascent to the World Series. But now, with the Yankees literally trying to buy the pennant, every team becomes the Rays.
Every time a team steps into the new Yankee Stadium (a brand new ballpark that cost about $1.5 billion, no big deal) they become the underdogs. I mean, how can a team whose payroll is hundreds of millions of dollars less than the other seriously compete?
Forget about the fact that the Yankees seem to try these big-name signings every year, but haven’t won a World Series since 2000. And forget about the fact that Alex Rodriguez prefers to phone-in the playoffs.
If this team is prevented from taking home a World Series trophy, there is still hope for baseball.
With the target the Yankees have placed on their own backs, it doesn’t matter who it is that takes them down, we can all take pleasure in watching them fall.
Well, unless it’s the Cubs.
D.J. Piehowski is a junior journalism major from Genoa. He is the Scout assistant sports editor.
Direct questions, comments and other responses to email@example.com.