Feel pity for the Yankees' defeat? Not now, not ever

November 08, 2001|By Kevin Cowherd

I DON'T know how it is with you, but for me the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all is right with the world. The Yankees lost the World Series. Hallelujah, baby!

Oh, I know the city of New York has been through a lot. My heart goes out to the people there. And I know the Yankees have a lot of good guys on their team; to hear the New York media tell it, it's a roster of altar boys who call their moms every night.

Doesn't matter. I'm so sick of the Yankees I could scream.

So when that soft, dying quail of a hit off the bat of Luis Gonzalez dropped into the outfield in Game 7 and the Arizona Diamondbacks officially became world champions, we Yankee-haters leaped from our sofas, brushed the pretzel crumbs from our shirts and screamed: "YESSS!!"

It was a grand moment. Christmas came early, my friends. It's just too bad that when Major League Baseball announced it's eliminating two teams, one of them can't be from the Bronx.

There are so many reasons to hate the Yankees, but I like to go with the standard ones: They win all the time; they're arrogant; and they're filthy rich.

Year after year, they go out and buy whatever superstar they need to fill a hole in their roster. (The next time they put up a monument in Yankee Stadium, it should be in the shape of George Steinbrenner's checkbook.)

Last year they bought Mike Mussina, and before that it was Roger Clemens and David Justice and Chuck Knoblauch and ... well, you get the idea.

The list of high-priced gunslingers they've hired is endless. And it goes back more than 20 years, to when they bought Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson and then Dave Winfield.

Who're they gonna buy next year, Barry Bonds? I'm sure Steinbrenner was speed-dialing Bonds' agent the minute Bonds became the single-season home run king.

That's why rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for Wal-Mart over Pete's General Store.

It's like rooting for Goliath to take David - after first kneeing him in the groin.

It's like rooting for the train to run over the poor damsel tied to the tracks.

If it's easy to hate the Yankees - and to many of us, it's as easy as breathing - it's even easier to hate Yankees fans.

My favorite incident involving Yankees fans occurred a few years ago, when I donned full body armor and took in a game at Yankee Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays.

A kid who looked about 16, wearing a Blue Jays cap, happened to be sitting a few rows in front of me. Even before the first pitch, he began taking a lot of abuse from the Yankees fans around him, which I know you'll find shocking.

Around the third inning, a few of the thugs who'd been giving him grief snatched the kid's hat, ran up the aisle and took turns stomping on it. The kid looked around for an usher. But apparently the nearest usher was in Long Island.

Now here's the part that'll bring a tear to your eye.

When the thugs finished stomping the hat, did they give it back to the kid?

No, they set it on fire!

This big guy with a gut like a bulging laundry bag pulled out a Bic lighter, and seconds later the poor kid's hat was smoldering.

This elicited a round of raucous cheering and beer-guzzling, which, from the looks of things, had begun around breakfast for these boys.(Speaking of which, there is no fate on Earth crueler than listening to 50,000 beered-up Yankees fans singing "New York, New York" after a win. If we could pipe that into the front lines in Afghanistan, the Taliban would be throwing their guns down and their hands up before the second stanza started.)

But the good news is that it's the Arizona Diamondbacks who are being fitted for championship rings this week, which serves as a measure of justice for Yankee-haters everywhere.

Late yesterday, I reached the patron saint of our movement, a man named William B. Mead, who some years ago wrote a nifty book called The Official New York Yankee Hater's Handbook.

Mead is 67 and lives in the Washington suburbs now, and is a contributing editor for Washingtonian magazine.

When I asked him what he thought of the series, he said: "I loved it - all but the fourth and fifth games!" referring to the two miraculous Yankee comebacks.

Mead grew up in St. Louis and became a Yankee-hater naturally: He was a big Cardinals fan. His hatred for the Bronx Bombers reached its zenith in the late '70s, when Steinbrenner was at his most pompous and meddling, and the prickly Billy Martin was manager.

To this day, he can summon a righteous burn over the team he says was "built on the financial advantages that accrue from being in the biggest city in the country."

Mead did, however, sound a disturbing note for Yankee-haters during our conversation.

While Yankee-hating is a long and glorious tradition, he said he senses there are fewer of us around these days, mainly because the current manager, Joe Torre, is so likable, as are players such as Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez.

"Also, for true fans, the Yankees, fundamentally, are terrific," said Mead. "Like the Orioles of the old days, they play solid, fundamental baseball."

"I root against them all the time," he added. "But I don't hate them like I used to."

Oh, my. It really is a whole new world.

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