Nick Leshi

Nick Leshi
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Bronx, New York, United States of America
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December 13
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Writer, actor, media professional, fan of entertainment, pop culture, and speculative fiction. Contact nickleshi@aol.com for more info.

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NOVEMBER 5, 2009 2:37PM

A Letter to Yankee Haters

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Dear Yankee Haters,


On this day after the New York Yankees have won their 27th World Series championship in franchise history, I am not writing to you to gloat or to convert you to the Dark Side to become a Yankee fan. I merely want to take this opportunity to help you let go of some of that anger and frustration that you are feeling right now.

Let’s look at why you hate the Yankees with such a passion. Once we address that, you will find that we can get beyond the venom and just mutually agree to love the game of baseball itself.

1. “Yankees buy their World Series.” This is without a doubt the number one reason people cite when they bad-mouth the Yankees. It cannot be denied that the Yanks have the largest payroll. It also can’t be denied that the Yankees are a business and generate a lot of revenue. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with investing in your team and doing everything in your power to win. It’s funny how in a capitalistic society, it’s still okay to talk about “spreading the wealth” in sports. It’s ridiculous, in my mind, to talk about “striving for equity” in competitive games when the whole point is to do your best to put a better team on the field than your competitors. But that’s a debate for another day.

My biggest retort to the flawed criticism that the Yankees “buy” their championships is to show as evidence all the years the Yankees did not win despite how much they always spend. The New York Mets had the highest payroll in the National League and they haven’t won since 1986. The Yankees couldn’t even make it to the playoffs during the 1980s and early 1990s, despite George Steinbrenner’s best efforts at throwing money around. And the Yankees have been knocked out of contention many times, sometimes by teams with a third of their salary. The Yankees pay a revenue tax and other teams can use that money to better their own franchises – you can’t hate the Yankees if some of the owners choose to pocket the cash instead.

The key (and listen carefully, because this is what it’s all about) is not how much money you spend, but how you spend the money you have. The Oakland Athletics have had 23 playoff appearances (going back to when they originated in Philadelphia) winning multiple titles in their history. The Minnesota Twins have also earned a number of championships. Yes, the Yankees have a big advantage, there’s no denying that. But you have to spend wisely. And no matter how big your payroll, the outcome often depends a lot on luck.

2. “Yankees are the Evil Empire.” Evil is such a harsh word. The Boston Red Sox learned the lesson that to win they had to become like their bitter New York enemies, and the results are evident: they broke their Curse and won two World Series this decade. Smaller franchises like the Florida Marlins also played the “Evil Empire Game” and ended up winning it all. To keep it going, you have to keep investing and adjusting. If your team isn’t a consistent contender, instead of just hating the Yankees, vent some of that frustration on the people running your franchise.

3. “Yankees are steroid abusers.” All kidding aside, I wrote about baseball’s steroid scandal and I too am outraged at how it has tarnished my favorite sport, but let’s be honest, the Yankees did not have a monopoly on performance enhancing drugs. I would be shocked if some of the best players during the Yankee dynasty years, like Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and now World Series MVP Hideki Matsui, ever were linked with that stuff. And the folks on the team now who used human growth hormone, anabolic steroids, or other performance enhancing substances (legal or illegal) like Andy Pettite or Alex Rodriguez, are testing clean now. The steroid problem encompasses all of Major League Baseball, from Oakland to Boston to Los Angeles to Chicago, and it’s not fair to target the Yankees alone.

4. “Yankees are arrogant.” I don’t know any of the players personally. Sure, some of them might probably be jerks off the field. But I think players like Matsui, Jeter, Rivera, and even the newer guys like C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Texeiera are decent guys. Younger players like Joba Chamberlain are still learning, and superstars like A-Rod deal with the paparazzi and tabloids for good or bad, but it’s their performance on the field that matters. And many of the current Yankee players are still class-acts.

5. “Yankee fans are obnoxious.” Every city has its bad seeds. For the most part, though, I think Yankee fans are like any other fan of any other professional sport. We do our fair share of trash talking and chest thumping, but deep down inside, the true Yankee fans love their team’s history and they love the sport itself. Don’t be afraid of the Bleacher Creatures, they don’t bite (and the ones that do have had their shots.) Professional sports are an escape from the tedium of everyday life. Yankee fanatics will scream and shout, cheer and boo, but when it’s all said and done, they’re usually just like you – hard-working with families at home, rooting for their team to win and sticking by them the years they don’t.

6. “Yankees and their fans are spoiled.” We’ve won a lot – 40 pennants, 27 championships. But most of us don’t take it for granted. Those championships span the long legacy of team history. We’re very lucky to have won so much, but we still know the bitter taste of defeat. The Yankees had championship droughts and even long years when they didn’t even make it to the playoffs. Sure, some fair-weather fans are spoiled and will abandon the team as soon as they start losing again, but the majority are die-hard faithful, just like you, sticking it out through the good times and the bad. When you win, you want to keep winning. When you lose, you want to fix the problems and win again.

The Yankees have fans around the world, not just in New York, and they will always be viewed as a hated rival by many teams and their supporters. Instead of letting the hate eat you up inside, use it to your advantage. Let it inspire you, let it motivate you. Voice your passion to your local teams, express any frustrations to your teams’ owners. Baseball is a game, but if you don’t strive to win every single time, then what’s the point in playing?

Thanks for reading, Yankee Haters. Some of you are my dear friends, and no matter what I say or do, I know I can never get you to root for my team. But hopefully, some of what I said has taken away some of the pain you might be feeling today. If not, feel free to share your venom by leaving a comment here. Consider it therapeutic, courtesy of a Yankee Fan who cares. Just try to keep it clean for any of the little kids who might be reading. If you must disrespect, then be creative and avoid the profanities.

Have a nice day. Let’s count the days until Spring Training when we can start this all over again

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