Welcome to the latest installment of Characterizing the Fanbases! In this series I’m attempting to present the psychology of every MLB fanbase. This series, as you would expect, comes with a disclaimer: These characterizations are based on my own perceptions and opinions, and no offense is intended by them. I freely admit that I’m only one man, and my view is therefore limited. I’m fully aware that many fans will not fit the profile I depict, and that’s to be expected, because it’s impossible to make blanket statements about large groups of people. If you want to contest anything I write here, feel free to leave a thoughtful, civil comment. Otherwise, sit back and have fun reading. Perhaps I might even say something insightful!
Are they the most famous (or infamous) fans in sports? Ask any baseball fan
what Yankee fans are like and they’ll tell you: arrogant, loud-mouthed,
entitled bullies. And really, why wouldn’t they be? After all, their team is
the richest in the game, and they have the resources to buy any elite player
they want. They have more than twice as many World Series titles as the next
team on the list, and they haven’t been out of contention in the last 20 years.
If you’re a bigger-is-better bandwagoner type who wants to follow the rings or
a cocky New Yorker, the Yankees are the perfect team for you.
To say these fans lack perspective is an understatement. They literally
believe the World Series should be theirs to lose every year, and they don’t
seem to understand what a luxury it is for such expectations to be within the
realm of possibility. When they don’t win the Series they feel cheated, as though
a rightful victory were stolen from them.
“Yankee fan behavior” has become a widely-understood description of boorish,
classless antics coupled with a sense of superiority. They can throw bottles,
harass opposing fans, talk smack and boo as much as they want, but that doesn’t
stop them from believing they belong on a higher plane than the rest of
baseball fandom. They feel justified in criticizing all-time greats who join
their team for not being “true Yankees” if they fail to live up to
expectations, all the while elevating lesser players merely for being Yankee
lifers. They’ll openly declare that it’s in the best interests of baseball for
the Yankees always to be good, because the media enjoys covering their team and
constantly perpetuates that idea. Hey, if the writers say it and it validates
their wishes, who are they to argue? There’s no doubt in their minds that the
Yankees represent everything good and right about baseball, and screw you if
you don’t like it, you jealous hater.
While I’ve witnessed enough Yankee fan arrogance in my lifetime to make my blood
boil, there’s a part of me that wonders if the Yankee fan isn’t somehow a
pitiable creature. Sure, the average Yankee fan has witnessed more World Series
titles than some franchises have in their century-plus history, but they still
manage to find reasons to be unhappy. The fact is, human nature is never
satisfied. If we didn’t constantly have the desire for more, the human race
would stagnate. This trait can be the key to a man’s success, or it can be his
downfall. Other fanbases realize they’ll never catch up to the Yankees and can therefore
be appreciative of what they have, but Yankee fans have experienced higher
heights than those other fans, so anything less seems a letdown. Undoubtedly it
indicates that they’re spoiled, but once you’ve lived the life of a rich man
you never want to walk in the shoes of a pauper.
While the Yankee trophy case is the envy of every
other ballclub, it also carries with it the pressure to maintain a
stratospheric standard. Because winning the World Series every year would be
impossible, the Yankees and their fans are doomed to feel like underachievers
in spite of their unmatched success. If the price of having an
annually-contending team is the ability to enjoy the ride, perhaps those of us
who aren’t Yankee fans should be thankful.