Mets vs. Yankees. The prevailing notion in this town is that you are either one or the other. Can't be both. You can't, like indecisive ice cream eaters, simply swirl both teams into the same cone and be on your way. Seemingly each side of our local baseball feud represents some opposing characteristic about the city, and the team you identify with can reveal a whole lot. We would be surprised if some psychotherapy student, somewhere, never wrote a thesis on this very topic.
So with this divisive New York spirit we approach the same question as the season opens -- which side are you on? Are you a scrappy runner-up? Or a corporate, perennial winner? Defending the Mets (sort of), we have Christopher Rosen, Entertainment Editor. For the Yanks, Executive Entertainment Editor Michael Hogan takes the plate. Gird your loins, fans of each -- harsh words lie ahead.
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The Yankees Are Evil One Percenters
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Who makes the better argument?
Let's begin with the end: I hate the Yankees.
I used to think I just hated Yankee fans -- y'know, those brotastic idiots who chant "Der-ek Je-ter" in the subway for no reason whatsoever. But, recently, I've begun to realize I hate the team itself, and everything it stands for.
The Yankees are the one percent. The Yankees are the Russian army. The Yankees are the Republican Party.
It's not just that they have the most money to spend, it's that they don't have any limits or self-realized regrets. Put another way: The Yankees have no face.
How else to explain a team that can spend million on a middle reliever like Rafael Soriano and then not even blink an eye when he's terrible and/or injured -- like everyone predicted? (Even general manager Brian Cashman.)
How else to explain how they could trade for Michael Pineda and then act surprised when he's hurt -- this despite many wondering if they got a gift horse from the Mariners, who traded a young starter under manageable club contractual obligations when there was no pressure to move him?
The Yankees have no shame, and that attitude extends to their arrogant and deluded fan base.
If you live in New York, you've probably heard Mike Francesa talk about the Yankees on more than one occasion. The WFAN radio host is the Grand Poobah of the Yankee faithful: a loud, obnoxious blowhard who never admits a mistake, even when faced with embarrassing proof. (He didn't know Detroit Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque was a real person, and then, when presented with evidence to the contrary, simply decided to make fun of his name; class act!)
Here's the thing about Francesa and Yankees fans in general: even when the Yankees lose, they don't accept that they lost. It's really a sickness -- a symptom of years of entitlement that has made generations of Yankees fans impervious to common human decency. Even when the Yankees get run out of the playoffs by an on-paper inferior team (see: Detroit last season), fans don't seem fazed; it's the Yankees after all, so losing must be someone else's problem.
As a proud Yankees hater, I can take solace in the fact that the team is a shell of its former glory-days self. Yes, this is a club three years removed from winning a World Series, but only an idiot -- or a Yankees fan -- could think the Yankees are championship club as currently constructed. They field a team of chokers and bullies, buoyed only by the clutchness of Derek Jeter, the one Yankee even Yankee haters can get behind. Jeter is a pro's pro; Alex Rodriguez slapped at Bronson Arroyo's glove. (Never forget.)
This is probably the part where I'm supposed to convince you to root for the Mets. Not that you couldn't figure it out, but I'm a Mets fan. I have been since 1986, when, as a wee eight-year-old, I watched them win the World Series. If I had known then what I know now, amirite? Since that high-water mark, the Mets have been the Mets at best, and the Mutts at worst. Right now, they're in a Mutts phase, thanks in part to terrible management, terrible ownership and Bernie Madoff.
Couldn't that one-percenter have cozied up to Hank Steinbrenner?
Still, here's the twist: The Mets aren't much better than the Yankees. At least as a franchise. They still spend money wildly and make huge mistakes. You'd like to think the Mets have a face, but really, they don't. At least not the Wilpons -- Fred and his son, Jeff -- who should have sold the team at some point in the last year rather than take an entire franchise and its fan base down the Madoff rabbit hole.
So, should you root for the Mets over the Yankees? Probably not. But you should never root for the Yankees. Ever. They are the worst. They are the Evil Empire. As a person with values, you realize that. Don't succumb to the dark side.
It's Opening Day again for Major League Baseball, and that means it's time for every New Yorker to choose a side: are you going to root for the reliably dominant Bronx Bombers or the reliably dormant Amazin' Mets?
The choice really boils down to this: do you want to win, or do you want to lose?
I know what you're thinking, especially if you're already a Mets fan: I'd rather lose with dignity than cast my lot with the Steinbrenner family's bloated, evil empire.
But here's the kicker, Mets fans: your empire is bloated and evil too. And you still stink.
True, you're not AS bloated as the Yankees. Your 0 million payroll in 2012 is only 60 percent as absurd as the Yankees' preposterous 7 million tab. But it's more than double what teams like the Washington Nationals are spending, and the Nationals won three more games than the Mets last year. So the problem isn't money; the problem is that your players don't know how to pitch, hit and field.
Of course, the Mets' payroll used to be more competitive. That was before the team's owners got caught in the web spun by Bernard L. Madoff, arguably the most evil fan in baseball history. According to the trustee representing Madoff's victims, the Mets' owners actually made money off the phony banker's pyramid scheme, and they were recently ordered to pay back 2 million, which is almost enough to cover Bobby Bonilla's salary through 2034.
Here's the bottom line when it comes to money and baseball: winners spend what it takes to win, and losers make excuses. Both teams play in New York. Both teams are beloved by millions of fans. So why is one able to attract the best players from all over the league while the other signs Oliver Perez?
But enough about payroll. Let's talk about things that really matter.
Like uniforms. The Yankees suit up for every game in one of exactly two legendary uniforms, the home pinstripes and the away grays. You would have to be a mathematician to calculate all the Mets uniform possibilities, given the endless array of garish hats, shirts, and pants, each more eye-stabbingly ugly than the next.
And then there are the ballparks. The Mets recently upgraded from Shea Stadium, the worst park in America, to Citi Field, which is famous for its designer concession stands. When's the last time you heard someone come back from Yankee Stadium and say, "You'll never believe how good the food is." Shut up. It's a baseball game, not an organic farmer's market. Buy a damn hot dog and watch the game!
Oh, wait, I forgot: watching your team lose is depressing. Now I understand why you just spent three innings waiting in line at the Shake Shack.
At least the tickets are getting cheaper. If only the team could raise some more cash by finding someone even more wealthy and soulless than Citi Corp. to pay for the right to slap its name on the stadium.
Another important thing Mets fans don't get: whining. They do it all wrong. I'll be the first to admit that Yankee fans are insufferable whiners, but at least they whine about stuff that matters: How is it possible to spend this much money and not make it to the World Series? How the hell could a burned-out city like Detroit eliminate the Greatest City in the World -- in the first round no less?! Why are we delivering truckloads of gold bars to A-Rod's doorstep every morning just so he can choke when you need him the most?!! Why is Joe Girardi, a 47-year-old man, wearing braces?!!!
When Yankee fans whine, it's because they expect more. Mets fans whine because they think it's cool. Ask Boston how cool it is to root for a team of eternal underperformers. Ask them if they want to turn back the clock to those romantic, pre-2004 "Curse of the Bambino" days. If they say yes, you have my permission to dump that designer milkshake right over their heads (Actually, you have my permission no matter what they say. I hate Boston.)
Speaking of Boston, the rivalry between The Bronx and Beantown is about 50,000 times cooler than the one between Queens and Philadelphia. For one thing, to be an actual rival, you have to place first or second in your division at least once every three or four years. You also have to be at least somewhat hard. We express our hometown pride by raising hell at Fenway Park, one of the most historic stadiums in the world of sports. What do Mets fans do? Beg the Phillie Phanatic not to shoot them with his T-shirt gun?
Believe me, Mets fans, I take no joy in telling you how futile your fanhood is. After all, Yankee fans don't hate Mets fans. You just annoy us, like dandruff.
I want you to be happy, if only so you'll stop complaining all the time. But I'm afraid happiness is not in the cards for you guys.
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The Yankees Are Evil One Percenters
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