Justice Is Served

November 5, 2009 9:47 AM

Hate Yankees? Nah, hate what money buys

A friend suggested last night that I write about how everybody hates the Yankees. His suggestion sounded like an idea worth exploring. I did think about it for a second, but I just couldn't find the hatred that he and others had.
I have long understood what was behind their anti-Yankee sentiments: They detested sports dynasties.
In the history American sport, the Yankees have been the quintessential dynasty, littering haters across the baseball landscape. Whatever linguist discovered the word "dynasty" must have had the Yankees in his mind, unless he was partial to the Roman Empire. For if the Yankees aren't the team that embodies that word, no team is.

Their win last night over the Phillies sealed their 27th World Series, the most of any franchise in any team sport. Their latest championship came as no surprise; it seemed like their destiny since Opening Day.
They had a chic new ballpark in the Bronx and had assembled a new collection of stars from the Whitey Ford-Mickey Mantle mode. In the postseason, they enjoyed the emergence of one of the game's brightest stars.
I'm inclined to call this championship "Manifest Destiny." I won't do so, because if I did, I'd be co-opting a phrase from a more pivotal moment in history. But as the season came together for the Yankees, they proved to be Destiny's child.
All the things money can buy in sports paid off handsomely. It was a season in which the team with the most wins, the highest payroll, most versatile lineup in baseball and the game's deepest bullpen won.
No reason to do anything but applaud the Yankees for winning like this. The time for decrying the imbalance that saddles baseball with the two-tier structure -- the haves vs. the have-nots - has long ago past. What is in the future are more championships for a team that can outspend its rivals.
Call it unfair. OK, I guess I can concede that it is. But nothing the Yankees have done is unsportsmanlike conduct or illegal. They are playing within the rules that fans grudgingly accept. They don't stress the stupidity that created a structure where one-third of the teams have zero postseason possibility when the season opens. The best these teams can hope for is to stay within a half-dozen games of the Wild Card spot.
Beating the Yankees? You can't be serious!
So as the champagne soaks into the clubhouse carpet in Yankee Stadium, the Yankees and their fans can bask in what will be an offseason in which the team will get stronger. The Yankees will pluck off whatever missing piece they'll need to repeat, outspending anybody else for whatever talent they covet.
The strong will became invincible, as the Yankees teams from the 1920s, 1950s, '60s and during other times in baseball history did.
Hate the Yankees? No reason to hate them -- not today. Hate the game and its structure, yes; hate the team that plays within that structure better than anybody else does, no.
And as much as baseball fans in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego, Milwaukee, Washington, Tampa, Miami and Baltimore might detest how the Yankees do things, they waste a good hate, which could better be put elsewhere - someplace where it doesn't cheapen greatness.
Hate can take on the look of pettiness and spite when it gets in the way of appreciating a team that has symbolized greatness for the past century. The Yankees, arrogant and smug as the franchise might be, ought to be appreciated for their legacy of greatness - never hated -- even if they are always the best team money can buy.

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