Is It Ever Okay to Root for the Yankees?
What if it means helping the Red Sox?
Last week, I sent out my most controversial tweet to date:
It was also briefly my most viewed tweet of all time, until I tweeted about Amanda Peet on my personal account a few days later and it blew the hell up for no reason.
I was sitting there watching the game where Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit three dongs (none of which have landed yet) and thinking: Who do I root for here?
It’s easy for Red Sox fans to say, “Anyone but the Yankees! I’d rather lose 100 games every year until I die than see the Yankees win anything!”
In fact, I got a lot of replies that looked just like that:
But this Blue Jays team is scary. They were/are my prediction for AL East champs and I’m not alone in that thinking. This is a scary team with a lot of depth. They’ve got the most complete infield in the whole league (until Bobby Dalbec catches fire and then it’s over), a rotation that no one wants to face any day of the week, an above-average bullpen (bullpens are so weird: Didn’t everyone used to have a good pen? Now we’re all okay with an unskilled Gas Masterson), and a deep farm system that is lighting people up right now throughout all levels.
And the Yanks are pitiful. Their most recent series against the Orioles proved my point that this season will likely be just like last year. Sure, they’ll win 90 games. They always do. But a turtle as a team pet is not a personality. And although the nerds don’t want to believe it because it’s not quantifiable, you need personality to win good baseball games.
Look at last year’s World Champ Atlanta Braves:
Joc Pederson’s pearl necklace.
Jorge Soler bombing the most exciting home runs in Houston against a boring, bland Astros lineup.
Freddie Freeman, the face of the franchise, being the ultimate family man. An Atlanta kid’s idol, he’s the one kids dress up as for Halloween.
None of these people still play for the Braves, by the way.
They were The Little Engine That Could and they Did. It was fun. It was exciting.
Nothing about the Yankees are fun. They play with zero hutzpah. They are managed by a man that I’m not sure knows how managing works. They rest players at the worst times. They punt games they should be trying to win.
There’s nothing fun about watching Joey Gallo strike out 250 times a year. There’s nothing fun about watching Aroldis Chapman walk the bases loaded. Giancarlo Stanton last had a personality in 2018. Aaron Judge is still trying to ride the goodwill of playing catch with fans five years ago.
And fat Kiké Hernandez agrees with me, the Jays are likable:
They play baseball with smiles on their faces. They’re likable guys who get along well and play good baseball when they’re together.
They’ve got the home run jacket.
They’re back playing in Toronto.
And they’ve got Vladdy, this kid in a picture taken six months ago.
Not only are they a scary, well-constructed ball club (with a big big big home field advantage this year), but they know they’re good. They can relax and do their thing, knowing that if all goes right they’ll be easy AL East Champs. If they can hit the nitro in October, they could go all the way.
And that is something that I, of course, want the Red Sox to do. I want lots of home run laundry carts, Nicky P fist pumps, and regular sized Kiké Hernandez smiles. But it’s not going to be like that for Boston. It’s been an uphill climb in the few series we’ve played so far and it won’t get any easier in this division. Every win counts. When Toronto missed the playoffs by one game last year, you know they wanted some of those April games back.
In this tough division, every AL East team needs to take all 162 games seriously or they’ll come back to haunt you.
And you need to see the other teams lose as much as possible.
It’s gonna take a lot for me to change my tune about the Yankees. Toronto is dominant, which means they need to lose as much as possible for the Sox to see a first place division finish and a first round playoff bye.
So when the Yankees won two of the three games in the Yanks/Jays series, I found this response to my tweet to be appropriate:
Am I being optimistic? Probably. I’ve hopeful for the Summer Sox, but right now this response is probably the most realistic:
Until then, I’m hoping every hot streak coincides with games in and against Toronto. I’m not worried about Yankees games.
The attitude to always root against them is so weird to me. Rivalry, yeah yeah. But we won that rivalry in 2004. Nothing will ever top that ever again. Stanton hits a home run every single time he plays in Fenway and I don’t even blink. The Yankees are not what they used to be. And if you don’t think logically about the division, early season games, and the new playoff structure, and instead worry more about hating a team that hates themselves more than you do, I think you’ll end up feeling this way:
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Stats, as always, are from Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, and MLB.com