The Cano All Star experience

The entire thing was tough to take as a Yankee writer and fan. My wife was extremely upset. I thought the fans had a right to boo and be upset at Cano, but the way they continued seemed to go beyond the line of good taste. I am a high road kind of guy and this whole thing seemed low road to me. I made the huge mistake of saying so on Twitter. Most Twitter pals from the KC patronage crowd were polite in their responses of disagreement. But one response from a guy I thought was a good guy became absolutely hateful and savage in his responses. It blew me away. And yeah, it hurt. That response made me think again of the plight we have as Yankee fans. Oh, I’m sure some of you will think I am being a weak-livered wuss. But my fandom tries to be magnanimous. I was the first to congratulate Tigers’ tweeters when that team beat the Yankees in the playoffs last year. And I did the same before to the Rangers’ followers the year before. I root for underdogs like the Pirates. I try not to be an apologist. But it doesn’t matter when your team happens to be the Yankees.

The entire experience made me think of a post I wrote two years ago on my own site. I will copy it here. I hope that is okay. And feel free to disagree and shoot holes at it. Again, it may be considered wussy. But again, that’s who I am. So here it is in its entirety with a couple of tweaks to cover the time gap from when it was written.

On Being a Yankee Fan

 My blog buddy, Navin Vaswani, believes that being a fan of the New York Yankees is an easy thing. Yankee fans are spoiled he says. Yankee fans have it easy, he thinks. Yankee fans feel entitled he implies. Don’t get the Fan wrong. Navin is the best of his generation when it comes to supporting his passion for sports and his writing profession. Love the guy. But he is dead wrong. Being a fan of the New York Yankees is one of the most conflicting passions of all. Here’s why.

First, rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the Roman Empire or for America, for that fact. Most of the world hates you and is just hoping with their dying breaths that you will go belly up with a fork in your belly. If you are not a fan of the Cincinnati Reds or the Tampa Bay Rays, you still have a mild interest that both of those smart but cash=strapped organizations win. But if you are not a fan of the New York Yankees, you hope that the Yankees are humiliated and paraded around the warning track in their scivvys.Contrast the feelings about the Yankees to the Cubs. Cubs fans are lovable losers. They have hung in there despite disappointments year after year. Most baseball fans feel for Cubs fans. The Red Sox sure screwed this up in a big way. Before 2004, they were in the same boat as the Cubs, but they broke the curse and most of the world was happy for them. But they blew it. A small portion of their fans got bloated and obnoxious and that Red Sox Nation thing has turned them into pariahs second only to the Yankees.

But Yankee fans know there is no option but to win. If the Yankees do not win, then we know there will be wholesale changes and heads will roll. Any contemplative joy in reflecting on a good season and good stories and nice surprises are trashed in their failure to win it all. If the Yankees win it all, then those nasty Romans rammed it down the world’s throat just like the always do by having more resources than any other team. If they lose, then there is mockery at what all those resources brought you. There is no winning for the Yankees fan.

And there is no sympathy. Yankee fans understand that. Nevermind that the team went zero for the 80s or had the worst team in baseball in the late sixties. It’s only from 1996 to now that everyone remembers. Most fans hope their teams win. Yankee fans hope their team doesn’t lose.

And what if you like the Yankee players? Jeter is universally panned. His poor season in 2010 was glee to many. Nevermind that he still came in the middle of the pack for shortstops in value at his age. He just didn’t put up Jeter numbers. He looked less than Jeter-like and people are happy about that. It isn’t the Yankee fans’ fault that the media has built him up like some kind of megalith. Fans of the Yankees didn’t do that. But they bear the brunt of the consequences. Yankee fans when traveling to other parts of the country never say out loud that they love Derek Jeter despite the love and devotion felt to him. They can’t.

And imagine if that is how it goes for Jeter fans, how about A-Rod fans? Now there is a guy that people hate. Try rooting for him! You can’t go to a bar and say out loud, “Way to go A-Rod, You da man!” The bouncer would be breaking your head on the street corner, and that is after people throw beer in your face.

If the Phillies win, it will be accepted. If the Rangers win, people will be happy for them. If the Giants win, won’t those pitchers be amazing. And how about that Buster Posey! But if the Yankees win, there will be no love, no congratulations and no credit. There will be antipathy. How good can that make a Yankee fan feel?

To be fair, Yankee fans have no choice but to fight those feelings and sometimes the defense mechanisms roll over toward smugness and arrogance. Often, those become hateful comments lashing out at Yankee haters on comment boards. That’s regretful. And it doesn’t help the overall perception. It all goes back to the perception people have of New Yorkers in general. If you ask someone in Missouri what the people of New York City are like and there will be a universal response, “Those jerks.” But, it would surprise many that a lot of people in New York are nice people–maybe even the majority. Imagine that.

The Cardinals have won a lot in the last 40 years. But people don’t hate them. They may hate Tony LaRussa. But they don’t hate the Cardinals. It was hard to hate Tommy Lasorda for very long because he had a charm about him (that hides a dark side). People all loved Bobby Cox despite his many years of success. But none of that applies to the Yankees. They are the hated empire. They are the bullies of the Bronx. They are megalomaniacs of baseball.

And yeah, it all goes back to Steinbrenner. His brashness, his in your face approach to owning the Yankees set the tone for Yankee haters for a generation. It doesn’t matter that the TEAM of players for the Yankees (with the possible exception of A-Rod) are a classy bunch of humans that handle themselves with professionalism. Mariano Rivera never makes an Incredible Hulk pose or shoots an arrow after striking out the last guy of a game. Andy Pettitte (if you’ll pardon the HGH flap) has always seemed like a class act. Jeter has the respect of his peers if not the world’s baseball fans. But Steinbrenner’s actions and stance colored everything. And the media’s over-adulation and the number of times the Yankees are on national television do not help either.

No, being a fan of the New York Yankees isn’t easy. It’s a no win situation. The joy of winning is stolen by the hate thrown and the disappointment of losing is way worse because of the knowledge that there is almost universal joy at the development. This writer acknowledges that it is probably a  better gig than being a Royals fan. But not by much.

 

19 thoughts on “The Cano All Star experience

  1. Meh

    I thought the fans at the derby had every right to boo. I thought it was over the top, but whatever. What really surprised me was the reaction of the KC fans and media to the backlash they received for the booing. It was savage. They became practically rabid and foaming at the mouth. I mean, it was a home run derby people. A home run derby. So much hate. It was quite bizarre.

  2. David

    Other than the "Jeter being universally panned" bit (I actually think they cheered for him a little bit yesterday? And I don't recall much hatred over the years?) I agree with the majority of the sentiment. My gf asked me last night "Why are they booing?" and I had to explain "At every non-Yankee Stadium All-Star game, the Yankees get booed." Which is a little sad when you think about it.

    I think Jeter and Mo are the only two to escape relatively unscathed for the reent period of Yankee-hood.

  3. jay_robertson

    First – I was surprised at the KC fans; the Red Sox aren't THAT bush league. Then again, maybe that's because Sox fans AREN'T Bush League…

    On your piece – you may not be aware of it, but out here in the sticks, being a Yankees fan is almost like being in a secret fraternity. Whenever one comes across a fellow Yankee fan, there is a moment of blissful joy – savoring the chance to discuss the best team in the world without having any of the negative comments you refer to above. Since the Yankees are so reviled, meeting a fellow fan is just that much sweeter. We know each other; when in a crowded sports bar – full of evil Cardinal, Twins, and Chicago fans – it is enough to see a clip of the Yankees doing well and just look at your friend – silently acknowledging shared fandom of the forbidden team.

  4. BrienJackson

    People definitely hate the Cardinals. Especially people who have chance to interact with a disproportionate number of Cardinals' fans.

    • thecutoffman

      As a Yankee fan who has lived near St. Louis for a decade this isn't all that true. Their fans are horribly insufferable, yet no one around seems to mind. There are people around that dislike the Cardinals, but only the Cubs fans truly hate them. During the World Series last year most people, including some Royals fans, rooted for the Cardinals just to see a team from this state win. Putting up with their crap is what made this excellent article hit home for me. I'm rarely around Yankee fans and I have to put up with the "you bought your title" and "how do you not win every game with THAT payroll" kind of crap all the time from Cards fans. They earned my "sports hate"

  5. Kissel

    Booing Cano the first time he comes up to bat, and possibly when he's finished = reasonable reaction. Booing every single pitch and celebrating each out like you just won the world series and then subsequently harassing his family = pathetic, petulant, and just plain creepy. Just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean you should always do it.

  6. mcmastro

    I understood the booing at the beginning of the home run derby, fine, that's all great. The problem i have is when they continued the booing throughout the rest of the derby, and then into the ASG. That's classless. Cano gets your point, you think he was wrong (he wasn't, Butler doesn't have nearly as much draw as the others). But he went out there, with his few days off mind you, and tried to have a good time. Classless act IMO by K.C. The Justin Upton situation was the same last year and i stand by that booing somebody at an all-star game is one of the most rude things a fan base can do.

  7. Sabrina

    Nice piece William. Was at Camden yards for the first time and was shocked that the fans booed Jeter. It's like would you boo cal Ripken? And they still boo texiera. Beyond me. I just think every sport has to have a team to hate.

  8. Oh, so let's see: We're supposed to be appalled that a multi-millionaire living a life of dreams in Robinson Cano heard some boos from fans who likely emptied out their retirement accounts in KC to pay premium prices to watch an exhibition game? Really?

    • It's not that we're supposed to be appalled or feel sorry for him or whatever, it's just that…well, actually William said it best:

      "I thought the fans had a right to boo and be upset at Cano, but the way they continued seemed to go beyond the line of good taste."

    • Hugh

      Mmmn. Because when somebody has more money than you, it abrogates you from any responsibility to act like a decent human being. Really?

      • Well, to be fair, they *were* forced to buy those tickets at gunpoint. By Robinson Cano. Or A-Rod. Probably A-Rod.

        Anyway, as we all know by now, anytime you choose to spend some of your disposable income on baseball tickets, it gives you free license to engage in any sort of bad behavior towards players that you want, because *you* pay their salary. The owners? They’re just middle men for the cash. Again, everyone knows it’s a well established convention that you’re entitled to abuse anyone you want so long as you buy something from their employer every now and then.

  9. William Miller

    Key line in William's post, "I made the mistake of saying so on Twitter." He then mentions a hateful and savage response from someone he thought was a good guy. As someone who has been through a similar situation recently that began on Twitter with what I thought was a pretty harmless tweet, all I can say is that there are a lot of sad, pathetic, deeply unhappy people out there who are just plain losers. And although I can't entirely blame social media for the lack of civil discourse these days, it is certainly true that much of what people say when they are hiding behind a computer isn't something they would ever say to your face. William should be able to express himself honestly, as we all should, without being attacked by an obnoxious coward huddling pathetically and safely behind a keyboard. And it is not "wimpy" to think so or to say so.
    The bigger question is, why is there so much anger out there that needs to be vented?

  10. David Reyes

    Not gonna lie, that post summed every single one of my emotions towards the Yanks and our fandom perfectly.

  11. Aaron

    It's the fans fault. Go to any other stadium when the Yankees are in town, or even not. Look at how many Yankee fans there are in the crowd. I'd say the Yankees get cheered on the road more then other teams. That goes a long way to cementing the worlds hatred of us.

    The real tragety is when Yankee players are penalized for awards because of who they play for. 06 ring a bell? The argument of how valuable can a guy be if he plays on a team of all stars has always annoyed me.

  12. Zipper

    So let me get this straight:

    1. Everyone complains that the All-Star Game is a sham and that players don't take the whole thing seriously.

    2. Robinson Cano gets to pick a home run derby roster, so he picks the team that legitimately gives him the best chance to win instead of catering to a fan base by picking a player who isn't as good as anyone on the HR derby team.

    3. Everyone in Kansas City whines about it and boos him.

    Hypocrisy anyone?

  13. Matt

    To be fair, he could have shut them up and maybe even won them over by launching some home runs…

  14. ttaghumbserdown

    very nice )

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