I became a Yankees fan in 1962, near the end of a long period when it was fashionable to hate the Yankees. I went the opposite direction, partly because of my contrary nature and also to annoy my dad. I didn’t realize the dynasty I glommed onto would end so soon.
I was at the 1965 Opener at Met Stadium between the Yankees and Twins. Mickey Mantle started a ninth-inning rally that allowed the Yankees to tie the game when Cesar Tovar later dropped a two-out pop up. However, Tovar came through with a game-winning single in the last of the 12th. That was the beginning of the end of the New York dominance as the Twins won the pennant and the Yankees finished out of the first division eight of the next nine years.
During that period, the Yankees weren’t hated as much as they were irrelevant and ignored. Wearing a NY hat at Met Stadium barely brought a reaction from Twins fans. That changed as the Yankees bulked up in the mid-1970's and started winning pennants again. Free agency hit at this time, and the Yankees used their ample revenues, giving the new breed of haters a sense of umbrage they found justifiable.
Rivalries between teams thrive only when both are competitive, and the Boston-New York battles became prominent for the first time in a quarter-century. It’s enough to get some Yankees fans worked up over the Red Sox, although I think the proper response is indifference rather than hatred. The latter only elevates the rival to a status it doesn’t deserve.
As for Yankee "rivalries" with other teams, they’re always one-sided. A Cleveland fan told me he gets joy blowing his nose into an “I Hate the Yankees” hanky. I can’t imagine many Yankee fans caring enough to hate the Indians.
And so it is between the Yankees and Twins. Why would the former care about the latter? But, living in Minnesota, I see the intensity of the feelings of Twins fans—delaying a game in 2001 by throwing hot dogs at Chuck Knoblauch, hanging on to being robbed by an incorrect call by umpire Phil Cuzzi in the 2009 playoffs, and, most of all, using the New York payroll as a way to rationalize their distaste for the Yankees.
A 1999 ad theme for the Twins was the disparity in payroll with New York. One commercial suggested that, based on the ratio of the team salaries, each run the Twins scored against the Yankees should count as six runs. I wasn’t sure how a message of “We can’t compete with them” was supposed to inspire attendance, although I wondered if the campaign was less about attracting fans and more about getting the public to support a new ballpark to produce more revenue.
I say Twins fans ought to celebrate the good times, such as Justin Morneau’s two-out, two-run ninth-inning single off Mariano Rivera in 2006, and don’t get that worked up when things don’t work out.
For all fans, including those of the New York American League baseball team, cheer for your team (although not to the point where your emotional well-being is dependent on the outcome of a sporting event). Don’t hate the other teams. All it does is raise them up.
All teams have fans. Only the great ones have haters. I take it as a compliment to the Yankees when people say how much they hate them. Is that what you’re really going for?
In the words of Reggie Jackson, “Fans don’t boo nobodies.”
For more of Those Damn Yankees, check out....
- The Cuzzi Call by Nick Nelson
- The Twins and Yankees Go Way Back by Thrylos
- Confessions Of A Twins Fan by Brad Swanson
- Chuck Knoblauch by Cody Christie
- Dealing with Yankee Fans by PeanutsFromHeaven
- Derek Jeter Gift Baskets by Twins Fan From Afar
- Don't Blame Those Damn Yankees by E Rolf Pleiss
- A Minnesota Twinkie in King Rivera's Court by Topper Anton.