“Damn the damn Yankees”

Yankees Suck!
Yankees Suck!

My son was 6 years old when he started to grasp the game I watched every night on the television, dropping f-bombs like it was Dresden. This was the end of 2011 season, and the wheels were coming off the Red Sox. One night, during a Yankee series, my son asked me a question I’d been preparing my whole life to answer.
“Dad, would it be all right if I became a Yankee fan?” he asked.
I sat my son on my lap, ruffling his hair. “Of course, kiddo,” I said. “You’ll just have to find another place to live,” I said.
“But, Dad, I’m only 6 years old.”
“I know.”
Let me put this plainly: I hate the Yankees. And I don’t mean that in a passing sense, like one hates stepping in dog crap or dental work. I truly hate the New York Yankees. The sight of pinstripes brings puke to my mouth. When I see a Yankee hat or jersey or t-shirt, my blood pressure spikes. When I try to be reasonable in discussions with Yankee fans, I can’t even find a place in my cold, black heart to acknowledge Jeter’s talent—on any level.
I hate the Yankees. I hate them all.
Yet I also expect the Yankee fans to feel the same way about the Red Sox. There is a beautiful symbiosis in our mutual loathe that makes baseball interesting. However, before Fox Sports started marketing “The Rivalry” in the early-2000s, the Yankee fans didn’t hate The Red Sox. Instead, they were vastly indifferent to us, which was worse. As we all know, it is better to be spited than ignored.
In the past two seasons, there has been some ruckus around the idea that The Rivalry has died, much to the chagrin of the Sox brick-selling owners. Of course, with the Red Sox being cellar-dwellers last season, the real rivalry in Boston was between the players and Bobby V, the ownership and the diehards.
Here is the thing everyone needs to understand: The Rivalry is contrived for the fans.
Sure, during the period when Pedro was monkey-flipping Zimmer and Varitek was feeding Princess A-Rod a face-full of catcher’s mitt, it seemed to reason that those teams genuinely didn’t care for each other. The same holds true for the Thurman Munson vs. Pudge and Bill Lee-era teams, who probably weren’t exchanging Christmas cards, but for the most part, The Rivalry is theater for the fans.
And I buy into it. All of it.
For me, it doesn’t matter whether it is Opening Day or Game 7 of the ALCS. I not only want to watch the Red Sox beat the Yankees, but I want to watch the Yankees humiliated. I want to watch crowd shots of the fans in Yankee Stadium suffering, angry and distraught. I am happiest when the Yankees are being beat and their fans are pissed at the world.
My son will be 8 years old in a month and he still watches the games with me. Sometimes we’ll laugh, remembering those foolish and stupid questions he used to ask when he was a just a kid and he didn’t understand.