I hate the New York Yankees. I hate even more how they have single-handedly ruined major league baseball.

Let’s be perfectly honest with ourselves for a second here. Who in their right mind has enjoyed major league baseball except Yankees fans for the past couple of years? As I was watching the Anaheim Angels (God bless them) face the Yankees in Game 1 of their division series Tuesday night, I reminisced about the glory days of baseball.

Probably the best World Series ever was in 1991, pitting offensive powerhouse Ron Gant’s Atlanta Braves against the Minnesota Twins and Dan Gladden’s incomparable mullet. Those were the days when watching baseball was worth something. That was when you could see two teams build themselves up from nothing and play a hard-fought seven-game series. Do you tahink it’s any coincidence that when baseball was achieving great success in the late eighties and early nineties, the Yankees sucked?

Ever since 1996 — when Yankees fan Jeffrey Mayer reached out from his bleacher seat to steal a fly ball from right fielder Tony Tarasco and a playoff series-clinching win from the Baltimore Orioles — America has lost interest, and rightfully so, in a sport dominated by a team that has had the largest payroll of any Major League Baseball team for eight of the last nine years. How can you root for a team whose fans treat their shortstop like a god — even though he is nowhere near the level of Tejada, Rodriguez, Garciappara, and maybe even Vizquel — and still feel good about yourself in the morning?

For those who don’t yet understand what I’m talking about, I’m going to borrow some wisdom from Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly. And these little nuggets will help answer the only comeback I ever hear from Yankees fans: “You can’t hate us just because we’re good.”

Reilly got it right three years ago when he wrote in his October 1999 column, “The Yankees’ payroll this year was the largest in baseball, bigger than the GNP of Guam. If YANKEES WIN WORLD SERIES is worth a headline, so is BULLDOZER DEFEATS TULIP.” Reilly continues, “For decades, Yankocentric Eastern seaboard media — like this magazine (Sports Illustrated) — have overhyped Yankees players to exhaustion, so much so that six of baseball’s 30 All-Century team members were Yankees, including righthander Roger Clemens….Do you realize the Yankees have retired the jerseys of a .273 lifetime hitter (Phil Rizzuto) and a .257 lifetime hitter (Billy Martin)?”

Rick Reilly, let me shake your hand.

Today’s Yankees fans are so set on finding new heroes to replace the ghosts of yesteryear that they immediately throw a halo onto the head of maybe the fourth best shortstop in the American League. They adore Roger Clemens, a man who should be institutionalized rather than given a ball to throw at people.

I’m sorry New York, but I’m actually looking forward to the day when you add Derek Jeter’s jersey to those of Berra, Mantle and Gherig so I can laugh at the mockery you’ve made of our national pasttime.

You know, that gives me an idea, instead of contracting the Expos or Devil Rays, why not contract the Yankees? I guarantee you won’t hear any fuss about that idea outside the Five Boroughs.