Ellison: Why I’m a Yankee hater

When anyone asks me what baseball team I root for, I tell that that the most accurate answer is that I root against the Yankees. For Halloween, I dressed as “anybody but the Yankees,” donning a Red Sox shirt, Phillies jacket and Dodgers hat. The Yankees got the last laugh that night, beating the Phillies 8-5 to win game three of the World Series.

The origins of my Yankee-hatred are complicated, involving rooting for the Braves in the ’90s, watching them lose the World Series to the Yankees twice and having a dad who has been an Orioles fan since his days at Johns Hopkins in the ’80s and instilled in me his own Yankee hatred.

But I don’t hate the Yankess because I grew up in the South and my dad lived in Baltimore. My abhorrence of the Yankees is rather unique in sports, where people support one team over another for no objective reasons involving the nature of the organizations. My hatred is rational.

The Yankees, or at least the modern incarnation of the team, represents everything wrong with American society. Yes, the Yankees have been successful, and some will say I just resent their success. I don’t resent their success; I resent their arrogance.

It begins at the top. George Steinbrenner is not a good person. He was convicted in 1974 of a felony for making illegal contributions to Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign. Ronald Reagan pardoned him as he was heading out of office. Think about that, Yankee fans. You are supporting a man who thinks he is above the law.

Steinbrenner’s tenure as Yankees owner has been no better. He has publicly humiliated players, including Dave Winfield in 1983, for not playing well and was banned from baseball for life in 1990 because he paid a gambler to dig up dirt on the outfielder, though he was reinstated in 1993. When anyone tries to tell me that the Yankees are classy, I say give me a break. Joe Torre is classy, but the Boss forced him out.

It is no secret that the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball. They are able to field good teams because they can give the best players the most money. A third of the current Yankee lineup — Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez — and their best pitcher, C.C. Sabathia, played in the All-Star Game before the Yankees signed them.

While signing these players is entirely within the rules, it contradicts everything we value about sports. The Yankees are good not because they develop players better, scout better or work harder. The Yankees are good because they play in a big market and have a rich owner. Is this the sort of achievement we value?

Additionally, there is a mentality among Yankees fans that they deserve to win because they spend more money than everybody else. In 2006, when they lost to the Tigers in the American League Division Series, my freshman-year roommate blasted A-Rod for not performing in the playoffs because, to paraphrase, he’s getting paid so much. As if paying a player a lot should guarantee good performance.

Steinbrenner shares this philosophy, saying about Joe Torre before the 2007 ALDS against the Indians, “He’s the highest-paid manager in baseball, so I don’t think we’d take him back if we don’t win this series.” It wasn’t “I think another manager would do a better job,” which is the usual reason for firing a manager. It was we’re paying him a lot so he owes us.

If the fact that the Yankees are good because they have money doesn’t make you think twice before rooting for them, consider where the money comes from (other than Steinbrenner). Ticket and merchandise revenue flows in from Yankee fans, many of whom work on Wall Street, many at the firms that took on too much risk, leading to a painful recession.

The next time you put on that Yankees hat, consider this. You are supporting an organization run by a convicted felon who disrespects his employees, whose fans expect to win because they spend so much money generated by the people most responsible for the worst economy since the Great Depression. Think about that as you celebrate your 27th World Series.

I’m not bitter, I promise.

Matthew Ellison is a senior in Branford College.


  • 27

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t read this pathetic piece because I was distracted by my 27 championship rings.

    Oh, and the core Yankees Jeter, Pettitte, Posada, and Mariano are all from the Yankees’s farm system. We’re better than you, get over it.

  • Gifford

    You can call them the “core Yankees,” but “better” only means “we have more money.” They wouldn’t have won this year with just that core. They needed A-Rod, Teixeira, Sabathia, Matsui, and Damon. This is why Major League Baseball is not a real sport–it doesn’t feature a level playing field. (And it’s worth noting that this has long been the case. The Yankees owe some of their success in the fifties to the fact that they had de facto ownership of another of the 8 teams in the AL (the A’s) and used them as a farm team.)

  • Seriously?

    “The Yankees are good not because they develop players better, scout better or work harder.”

    How about taking a look at the Yankees roster before you write a piece like this? Of the 12 pitchers on the Yankees active roster last night, 7 of them were developed in the Yankees farm system. Of the 9 players in their starting lineup last night, 4 were produced in the Yankee system, and a 5th has never played for another team. Take a look around baseball, and you’ll find that those numbers are actually pretty good (not to mention better than those of the Phillies).

  • 28

    Just imagine how much you’ll hate us when we trade in Johnny Damon for Matt Holliday.

  • wow

    Yankee fans are incredibly obnoxious. The rings don’t belong to you; they belong to the players. Besides, you’ve only been alive for only a few of the 27 the franchise has won in its entire history.

    The Yankees’ ratio of championships per dollar spent is embarrassingly small.

  • :)

    I never liked the Yankees, having grown up in the greater Boston area.

    But I didn’t start to hate them until Johnny Damon completely betrayed the team he won a Series with solely for the sake of a higher salary–when, let’s face it, his salary with the Sox was plenty high. The fact that the Yankees are rich means that they draw in great players, but these players happen to be mercenary defectors. I like to think that in America, we don’t want to root for the Goliath with the most money, the one everyone expects to win (and who, let’s face it, wins a lot)…we want to root for the underdog, the little guy, the one that has the most heart. And New York will never have as much heart as Boston.

  • Scrim

    Boston’s not exactly the little guy. They’re always in the top five in payroll. Remember, they got Johnny Damon from Oakland by offering him a huge contract.

  • Bill

    Mr. Ellison, you are the worst kind of baseball fan. Your hatred is anything but rational.

    I would have much more respect for you if you simply recognized that your hatred of the Yankees is irrational, rather than to retroactively justify it with two contradictory points. Namely, you unintelligibly complain about the correlation between high salaries and good play, then you complain about Yankees fans’ disappointment when high salaries and good play do not correlate. You can’t have your cake or eat it too. Either they should correlate or they shouldn’t.

    You cite Mark Teixeira as part of your problem, but he severely underperformed this postseason. Clearly salary does not entail good performance.

    Similarly, until this October Alex Rodriguez also underperformed in the post season. While the Yankees clearly did not develop A-Rod’s talent, I think it is difficult to deny that his change in mindset coming into this postseason was a product of the Yankees organization, rather than of his salary (in fact, I think it is in spite of his salary).

    You say the Yankees couldn’t have won with just the core of Rivera, Pettite, Jeter, and Posada, but we also couldn’t have won with just the big-name imports Sabathia, Rodriguez, Damon and Teixeira. You seem to forget that in addition to having built those remnants of the 96 Yankees into superstars, we’ve also built Matsui, Cano, Swisher, Cabrera and Chamberlain from rookies.

    In short, you throw around our big payroll without paying any regards to the success of the team. You ascribe no value to outstanding performances from lower salary players (consider the fact that Rivera could probably get a better salary anywhere else on the continent). Yes, we pay our players well. But it wasn’t the big salary stars that gave us this championship. The team across the board, from Jerry Hairston to Alex Rodriguez, outplayed our opponents.

    If you want to make a rational argument, leave emotion at the door.

  • MN

    Go Twins!

    They have a ridiculously small budget, AND they can play.

    AND the Yankees may have won, but Joe Mauer, home-grown hero extraordinaire, still has the batting title.

  • Giff

    While I’ll admit the column could be better argued at points, #8 does not at all refute it. For what it’s worth, the Yankees did not develop Matsui–they didn’t draft him; they signed him as the best player out of Japan. Nobody is impressed with their ability to pay loads of money to a top foreign player, whether it works out, as it did in this case, or doesn’t, as with Irabu. Also, this was Swisher’s first year with the Yankees, but his sixth in the pros.

    I don’t really buy that A-Rod had a better postseason because of a simple change in mindset, but if that were the case, why didn’t the Yankees’ organization usher in that change five years ago? You could just as easily blame them for his poor years. He’s not the first player to have a long history of poor postseason play before turning things around (see Bonds). The Yankees aren’t the cause.

    Ellison does make a mostly rational argument. His argument isn’t that high salaries don’t correlate with good play (they do to some extent, not that they cause it), but that it’s obscene the way Yankee fans pay so much attention to the monetary value of each players’ effort, particularly when considering that other teams could never hope to afford so many spectacularly talented players. It’s then even more obscene when their fans pretend the team would be just as good without these high-paid free agents, as though Melky Cabrera contributes anything close to what A-Rod and Teixiera contribute. (Also, Teixiera was third in the league in OPS. His “underperformance” will net him quite a few MVP votes.) Those two, along with Sabathia and Burnett, gave the Yankees this championship. Hairston, now as ever, is terrible, and outplayed nobody.

  • Goldie ’08

    Can we talk about how A-Rod and Pettite are confirmed juicers? Phillies embody everything that is great about baseball. Too bad we couldn’t win this one, but we’re clearly the best NL team and will be back in the series next year, guaranteed.

  • D

    Yankee hatred is irrational by nature it seems to me…Explain to me how its wrong/unfair/terrible for baseball that the yankees pay free agent players to play for NY? Every team in the league attempts to do the same thing. Players and their agents tend to determine what they want to be paid and seek it out. No one would complain if the red sox paid Teixeira or sabathia. But because these players CHOOSE to play for the yankees people complain. Yankee haters try to rationalize their jealousy by saying how unfair the yankees are but yet, no one would complain if their home teams could get these players too. Which they can, all they have to do is PAY them what they ask. Sabathia wants $161 million, pay him and he will play for you unless he truly wants to be a Yankee, another things haters tend to ignore. Players want to play in NY. Stop being mad at the franchise. Be mad the players don’t want to play for you, and be mad you can’t afford to pay players who would be swayed by the power of the dollar. The Yankees follow the rules. The Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, etc all have high payrolls and can afford to pay these players too but what happens? They don’t offer the players what they are looking for or the players simply do not want to be members of those teams. Players who don’t want to play for the yankees don’t. The yankees don’t force these guys to come here. All the hatred directed at the yankees is completely illogical and irrational. They are doing what any other team would do. And the rest of you are mad because the players are doing what any of you would do: they go where they can get exactly what they want, money and success.

  • Bizarro World

    While you are at it, be mad at Yale for accepting you. Or be mad at yourself for not choosing to go to University of Bridgeport rather than Yale.

    Yale/Yankees….hmmmm….anything in common besides the first two letters?

  • Recent Alum

    #13: Good point, with the drastic increase in financial aid that Yale has been giving in recent years to attract students, the analogy between Yale and the Yankees is stronger than ever. Though there was a time when students didn’t choose to attend Yale for the short-term financial rewards.

  • aquarius740

    beautiful article.

  • J

    Cool story, bro.

    #13/#14, how is there any correlation between Yale and the Yankees?

    Yale – a historically excellent school – has the ability to allow more deserving students to attend at lower or no cost because it has great revenues with which to give financial aid…and this is a bad thing? This affects other, less excellent schools to attract those same students to come to their schools and receive less financial aid?

    That would be the most absurd thing ever, except this article exists and is more absurd than that. The Yankees have the most money in baseball because they’ve been winning regularly in the world’s largest media market for roughly 109 YEARS. They have developed and signed some of baseball’s most historically great players over that same course of time, and when it comes time to choose to retain those players’ services, instead of trading them for a pack of gum and a smile so that the owners can pocket more revenue, they choose to resign them.

    You can hate George Steinbrenner for however many reasons you like; since I don’t know him, I won’t cast judgement on him. What I can say is that since he bought the Yankees in the 70s for $10 million or so, the team has been hugely successful, and regularly brings in billion-dollar revenues. If he’s a criminal, he’s a brilliant one considering the return on his investment. On top of that, he reinvests that money into the payroll to retain the great players they develop, fortify the minor league and international player development systems, and sign top free agents. If Steinbrenner is a criminal, he’s a generous one who does what it takes to win.

    But this article is pretty golden, though; Wall Street fat-cats do love their convicted felon-owned Yankees, and they were exhorting them to future victory today while lighting their cigars with $100 bills of bailout money. I totally saw it with my own eyes – true story. Then, the players used the keys to the city that they got from Emperor Bloomberg to depress the plungers on their steroid syringes and inject androstenedione into their netherregions.

    It was some parade.

  • D

    So poster #13, what you’re saying is that the when a player comes to the yankees looking to get paid to play (as all players do no matter what team they go to) the yankees should choose not to pay them and turn them away even the player fulfills a position of need? The yankees should do this to allow other teams to the chance to get the player? I should be angry at Yale for giving me the aid I need to go to their school, a good school because it’s not fair to who? While i’m at it i’ll also be mad at people who fail at being smart and logical and actually think that in order to make things fair in sports, teams or just the yankees, should handicap themselves so that the other teams don’t suck. I should choose to not accept aid so that someone else can get it…makes plenty of sense..also the sky is rainbow colored and filled with unicorns!!!

  • Yalie

    Players are pushed to go where salaries are highest by the Player’s Union. It’s completely unreal that the populist outrage here is directed against players who make millions of dollars to PLAY BASEBALL. They’re living the dreams of millions of kids around the world. They’re not exploiting third world countries; the only crime Mark Teixeira committed was going where he could get the most money to PLAY BASEBALL.

    TLDR: Don’t hate the player. Don’t hate the game.

  • Again

    Ellison has the journalistic integrity of Joseph Goebbels. Get your facts straight!

  • joey

    the yankees are the highest payed team in baseball because they are so good they wouldn’t be payed so much if they sucked so think about that one.

  • Conor

    Let’s go Yankees!

  • Louie

    I agree…

  • Max

    You silly person you. When you insult the Yankees, you insult New York City. Of course New York has its faults. It is egregiously expensive, somewhat corrupt, dirty and generally ridiculous, but it is also hands down the greatest city in the world. I have never rooted for any other team. I don’t root for them because they win, I root for them because they embody fully the tenets of baseball. Win, or go home.

  • gonzzo27

    Awful, just awful. Sounds like a typical Yankee hater. Is it the Yankees fault that baseball doesn’t have a salary cap? or the pirates owner just pockets the money the yankees give them in revenue sharing every year. go away nerd. And start thinking of a better halloween costume for next year fag!

  • Ryan Schachne

    Lets go through this.
    Let me know if I miss an argument. You complain the Yankees don’t use their farm system but only buy players? Well people already stated how that is incorrect. Cano, Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Pettite, melky, Hughes, Joba just to name a few key contributors for this title from their system.
    You say that George Steinbrenner is a criminal? And this is “rational?” People can’t change? The late Senator Ted Kennedy once killed a passenger in his car then drove away from the scene without telling anyone. That is much worse than sponsoring Nixon, and Kennedy went on to great things in his career.
    You say the Yankees get their money from Wall Street, and what do you expect them to do about that? That is a product of where they are located. So your “rational” argument there is that you hate the Yankees because they are in New York? Real rational.
    You state how you don’t like how Steinbrenner called out Dave Winfield? Any sports fan will tell you that coaches do this all the time, and more often that not it brings out the best in their players.
    You complain how the Yankees expect to win? That is what hapens when you are great. Michael Jordan expected to win. Roger Federer expects to win. And they do. Great players and teams need to expect to win and strive for it. I would not want my team to be happy just reaching the playoffs. Your arguments in this article are ridiculous, and the only logical part out of this is where you stated that it had to do with the Yankees beating the Braves up during the 90’s. That is where your hatred comes from, don’t try and rationalize it with these completely irrational arguments.

  • BB

    #24 You brought up a good point then managed to discredit yourself with childish name calling. I will tell you I am a typical Yankee hater with irrational justification for hating the Yankees. If hating the Yankees is hating New York. Guilty as charged.

  • Ryan

    #26 Truthfully I don’t have a problem with you hating the Yankees, good teams always have haters. But you admit it is irrational. What is wrong with this article is the fact that this guy tries to state his hatred is rational, when it is not. Hatred wil be a part of the game, but don’t try and say that it is rational for those reasons, which are clearly not.

  • LordKinbote

    Ha ha whining loser.

  • alex in atl