The New York Yankees will return to Yankee Stadium for a win-or-go-home NLDS Game 5 tonight against Terry Francona and the Cleveland Guardians. To wish the Yankees well on their way into battle, I thought I’d recall one of the first Bleacher Brawls columns to ever grace the internet, a bona fide love letter to my eternal hatred of the Bronx Bombers. I hope it will inspire other Red Sox fans, and just other Yankee haters in general, to step up their venom a couple more notches for tonight’s elimination game. The Yankees desperately need this win, which means the baseball world desperately needs the support of all who are disgusted by the very sight of pinstripes.
If you need any more incentive to enthusiastically beat the drum for the Guardians, think of it this way:
If the Yankees win tonight, the 2022 ALCS matchup will be the New York Yankees vs the Houston Astros again. Don’t you want to have a likable team to root for in this year’s battle for American League supremacy?
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. The enemy of the Yankees is my friend, comrade-in-arms, and sprit animal.
(originally published December 22, 2019)
I hate the New York Yankees the way I hate jock itch, hangnails, and Adam Sandler movies. I hate them when they are good and when they are not that good. I hate them in the offseason, the regular season, and the postseason. I hate them whenever I see someone wearing a Yankees cap. To do the legwork that is required to collate and quantify the hundreds of things that I hate about that franchise into a mere top ten list is a Herculean task that I have undergone for the sake of your entertainment. You’re welcome.
10. Roll Call
“De-rek Je-ter! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)!” “Luke Voit! (clap clap)! Luke Voit! (clap clap)!”
Shut up, you alcoholic, porch-dwelling turds. Congratulations on such precise synchronization. The New York Philharmonic would be proud. I’ve always wondered: how do these idiots figure out the cadences that they are going to use for each player before the first game of the season? Do these reprobates convene before opening day at the closest White Castle to Yankee Stadium and rehearse? Does Gino the longshoreman argue with Hector the subway teller over whether to say “La-me-hieu!” or “D-J La-me-hieu! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)!”? If things get heated, do they start swatting each other with giant sewer rats? Bear in mind, Red Sox fans giddily sing Sweet Caroline in the middle of the eighth inning of every single home game, even when their team is down by ten. We know dumbass in-game rituals better than anybody. If one of us is telling you that your schtick sucks, it really sucks.
9. Joba Chamberlain
In the context of history, Joba is but a boil on the backside of the Red Sox. But this guy was such a coddled, drunk-driving, headhunting buffoon that he deserves a spot on this list. He threw 100 mph, but couldn’t pitch back-to-back days. And when he did pitch, he got an extra day off for every inning he worked. So if he ever courageously dared to pitch two innings in a game, he got three days off. What good is it to waste a roster spot on this guy? To top it off, he even tried competing for a spot in the starting rotation in later years. He’d need half a week off after giving you two innings in a 15-inning game where you need your relievers to bear down, but this half-assed organization thought he could give you six innings every five days?
And what’s the worst trait imaginable for a guy whose fastball can reach the triple digits? That’s right, he liked to throw at people’s heads … specifically Kevin Youkilis’ head. Sure, Youk’s head may be the size of my windshield. But Joba threw at it about a dozen times. At least three or four of those must have been on purpose.
8. Billy Crystal
Let me start off by saying I really liked 61. Now let me continue by saying that Billy Crystal stinks. Have you seen this washed-up attention whore parade himself in front of every camera he can find two decades after Hollywood decided that his time was up? Gee whiz, he’s been in movies and he likes the Yankees??? Then let’s have him hit in a televised spring training game and spend a day at ESPN so he can appear on Sportscenter, Sportsnation, Sportsvillage, and Sportscommune. During this day with the four-letter network, a talking head asked him if he’d ever had any funny encounters with athletes. Without hesitation, he plagiarized a scene from the movie Cobb (where Ty Cobb says he’d only hit .290 against current pitchers because he was 75-years-old) while name-dropping a different athlete and passing it off as his own original story.
Did you ever see his song-and-dance routines from the Oscars? Did you ever see the song-and-dance routine he did when Jay Leno retired? Did you ever see the song-and-dance routine he did the next time Jay Leno retired? Don’t those catchy little numbers translate so well to twenty-first century entertainment? Hey Yankee fans … do you remember how heartbroken you felt after Mariano Rivera blew Game 7 of the 2001 World Series? Did you know that Billy Crystal owns a piece of the Arizona Diamondbacks? Your misery earned him a World Series ring.
But I have to admit that I respect the fact that he hooked up “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes with a great seat to a playoff game.
7. Yogi Berra
I would never denigrate Yogi Berra as a baseball player. He’s one of the best postseason players of all time and one of the best hitting catchers of all time. My problem is that this doofus is regarded as some kind of baseball poet laureate for no other reason than being one of the dumbest human beings in the history of sports. Think about how many dumb guys have played professional sports. Adam Jones. Dennis Rodman. John Rocker. Plaxico Burress. Ron Artest. But Yogi was so dumb that his idiocy has actually been immortalized in the form of annotated musings. “It ain’t over till it’s over.” “It gets late early around here.” “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” “Even Napoleon had his Watergate.” And no, he wasn’t trying to be funny. Those thirteen Yankee fans that are still alive to remember seeing him play are more than welcome to cherish those memories of his on-field accomplishments. But stop talking about him like he’s some kind of reverse Yoda. He’s Dennis Rodman without the hair or the herpes.
6. George Steinbrenner
What hasn’t already been said about the Boss? He’s been banned from baseball twice. He mocked future Hall of Famer Dave Winfield by calling him Mr. May. He created the payroll chasm between big market and small market teams in the 90s when he got sick and tired of playing fair and sucking. He used to threaten employees that would bring him bad news by telling them, “you’re on the bubble!” And Yankee fans curse the day that he began his descension into senility. Once Big Stein lost his marbles, the Yankees were reduced from the premier franchise in all of sports to just one of the better teams in baseball. George was a killer. His boys are spoiled, sons of killers that were born on third base. Is there any doubt that Jacoby Ellsbury would be lying in a ditch somewhere by now if George was still around?
5. Jeter’s Reputation
I’m not saying he wasn’t a good player. I’m not even saying he wasn’t a very good player. I’m saying he wasn’t a great player. Yes, he has good career statistics. But look at the guys he had hitting behind him throughout his entire career. Paul O’Neil, Jason Giambi, Bernie Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira … has anybody in the history of the sports had this kind of array of monsters protecting him in the lineup throughout his playing days? Has any player ever seen as many fastballs in the strike zone due to fear of putting him on base to be driven in by the superior hitters on deck? Was Derek Jeter ever even the best player on his team, let alone one of the best players of all time? I know he also had great postseason stats. But he’s also played in way more postseason games than anybody else in history due to always being on good to great teams contending for titles. So any cumulative postseason stats (hits, runs, HR, RBI,stolen bases, walks, etc.) must be taken with a grain of salt due to total games played (158, nearly an entire season’s worth!!!). And any averaged stats (BA, SLG, OBP, OPS, etc.) also must be taken with a grain of salt due to the unprecedented protection he always had in the order. I won’t get into the defensive metrics, but come on, people. What are the signature defensive highlights for his career? Flipping a ball 50 feet to nab a notoriously lazy player who didn’t even slide into home, and catching a ball in the field of play before running four steps and jumping into the stands.
4. Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens was a hero to so many of us in Boston. Then our management got cheap on his pudgy ass, which motivated him to get on some next-gen PEDs and become a freaking cyborg for the Blue Jays, a Red Sox division rival. The only step left for him to take in order to go from working-class Boston hero to white-collar New York supervillain was to take that big, fat check from Steinbrenner, no doubt endorsed with the blood of sick orphan children, and become the ace of two New York Yankee world championship teams. Look, I was there for the end of the Rocket’s run in Boston. I saw him underachieve from 1993 – 1995, never reaching 200 innings with the physique of Curt Schilling circa-2004. He let loose in his contract year of 1996 to showcase what he could really do when motivated once the writing was on the wall that he wanted out of the bush league organization that the Red Sox were before John Henry came along. As soon as he left us, he became the prototype for the ball-busting workout machine that the next crop of starting pitchers would strive to emulate. He’s the long-time girlfriend that dumps you and then immediately hits the gym and goes vegan to elevate herself from pretty girl-next-door to knockout dimepiece en route to dating the popular kid that stuffs you in your locker.
3. Yankee history
With 27 championships spanning across eight decades, the Yankees are the most successful franchise in the history of sports. With innumerable conquests along the way to ruling the entire civilized world, Greece has the most successful military in the history of time. What do either of these things have to do with life in 2019? Ten of those Yankee championships came before black guys were allowed to play in the major leagues. Eight more came before the Beatles were formed. Four more came before Reagan took office. There are only like 20 people living today that were on Earth for all 27 championships. Nobody alive remembers them all. If you are a Yankee fan reading this article right now, how much enjoyment have you taken from the championships that the Yankees won before 1996? So stop chirping about the 27 rings. How often do you hear Celtics fans bragging about all the titles they won in the eight-team NBA when their opponents were 5’8” white guys that’d be working at Lowe’s if they were born after 1970? And don’t get me started with the legends. Ruth and Mantle would’ve been in jail if TMZ and social media existed when they played. DiMaggio would’ve been forced to retire in disgrace once his treatment of Marilyn Monroe was leaked by her life coach. Berra would’ve gone bankrupt after loaning his fortune to a Nigerian prince that emailed him requesting some quick cash. Gehrig, by and large the only decent, intelligent guy of the elite Yankee sacred cows, would’ve been traded to the Phillies for middle relief help following the Babe’s power play to get the other alpha dog off his ballclub. A good rule of thumb: if it happened before Pac-Man was released, nobody cares. The best days of the New York Yankees, like those of the ancient Greeks, are in the distant past.
2. The Short Porch
So I know the right field fence in old Yankee stadium was originally deeper before they brought it in closer so Ruth (or was it Mantle?) could hit more home runs. Does anybody else see what a cheesy move that is? I know the Red Sox did the same thing for Ted Williams, but it’s still 380 feet out to straightaway right field in Fenway. True, it’s only 302 feet down the right field line in Fenway, but you have to hit the foul pole or wrap the ball directly around it to take advantage of that. The right field line at Yankee stadium is 314 feet away from home plate, and it extends like 30 yards toward center field before you get to the 353 foot power alley in straightaway right field. No less than 700 pop flies make their way over the wall on that damn porch every year, allowing guys like Paul O’Neil and Aaron Hicks to make millions more than they deserve by actually being considered “power threats”.
The Yankees get to play 81 games a year in this haven for opposite field-hitting righties and weak lefties. You basically can’t pitch to the outside corner to Yankee righthanded hitters there, because half of anything that gets hit in the air to right field is a home run. What do you think Yankee righties work on in batting practice? Yankee fans like to justify the existence of the porch by pointing out Fenway Park’s left field wall, which is 310 feet away from home plate down the left field line. What they like to overlook is the fact that this wall is thirty-seven feet high! You may not have to hit it that far, but at least you have to hit it high. You know how many line drives that would be home runs in Yankee Stadium are singles or doubles in Fenway after slamming off the wall and caroming to the left fielder? The porch is like eight feet high. Jacked up freaks like Giancarlo Stanton can break their bats while swinging from one knee and still reach the upper deck in right.
Although I have to admit … it’s not all bad.
1. John Sterling
The worst broadcaster in professional sports by far, and even Yankee fans agree. This guy should be holding a giant cone in front of his mouth in a circus tent as he introduces the bearded lady. He is the antithesis of what a broadcaster should be. He makes what is happening on the field secondary to his insufferable schtick. It’s one thing to have a trademark phrase for calling a home run (Michael Kay, Gary Thorne). But his signature home run calls, punctuated with the agonizingly horrible name-based puns that he shoehorns into the call regardless of the fact that they do nothing to describe the play for the listener, are nothing less than announcer malfeasance. A 360 foot home run hit by Alex Rogriguez is in no way “an A-bomb from ARod”. How can a batted baseball be “a Tex message”? What the Christ is a Tex message anyway? He’s not saying “text” message, because the guy who hit it is named Mark Teixeira, not Mark Text-era. His name isn’t even pronounced Tex-era, it’s pronounced Tesh-era. The pun doesn’t make sense comically or phonetically, so why the hell are you saying it? And if anybody has any idea what “Oh Curtis, you’re something sort of grandish” means, please do not tell me because if I figure out what he was actually trying to say there it will probably just piss me off even more.
Why don’t you try using the five seconds it took you to recite your self-promoting drivel to describe the home run for those of us that are listening to the game, but can’t see what happened because you’re on the radio?! Ratings are always good because the Yankees are so popular, but that’s still no excuse for the continued employment of someone who is so unanimously mocked and derided as the voice of your franchise. Sterling is 81 years old and announced 5,090 games in a row between 1989 and 2019, so perhaps management would feel guilty letting him go because he has such little else going on in his life. If that is the case, then it would make a pretty strong argument for making it illegal to feel pity for anyone. I believe that John Sterling’s continued employment as a baseball broadcaster is sufficient reason for outlawing a human emotion. Offering a nice retirement package obviously won’t entice him to retire, or the Yankees would’ve moved on long ago. Perhaps it’s time to put him out to pasture so he can prioritize his health. Because every time the Yankees are victorious, this dude has a freaking stroke.