Caple on Yanks-Sox

DMZ · March 7, 2005 at 9:45 am · Filed Under General baseball 

Jim Caple’s got a book out on the Yankees (which appears to be about why they’re both vile and a required part of the game), and there’s an excerpt up on worth reading.

I’m not sure it needs a book, as Caple nails the fandom part in one sentence:

Yankees fans not only think their team is the greatest in the history of sports, they consider themselves to be the most knowledgeable, the most loyal and the most supportive fans in the history of the game. They refuse to acknowledge that fans in other cities love baseball and the local team as much as they do.

There are smart, witty Yankees fans — like Steve Goldman, for instance, author of the Pinstriped Bible, who I highly recommend as a fine writer and quality dude.

But as a whole, I’ve found this to be true. I’ve met a lot of Yankee fans, and this is exactly the thing that makes me want to drag them off into the wilderness and hack them up with an axe.

With Red Sox fans, it was always the belligerent “our suffering is better than your suffering” attitude.

And I can support Caple’s jokes about getting hate mail from Yankee fans. In my own experience, writing for any mainstream outlet and saying anything about any Yankee that isn’t glowing will chew up your email quota before your horrified eyes instants after it goes out.

Really — I wrote something about Chuck Knoblauch’s play in left field that said he wasn’t “good”. People wrote me hate mail.

The problem, though, is that I always feel a little bad when I say stuff like this. Is there something about Yankee fandom that inspires this? Is this a defensive reaction to constant attacks for being a fan of the richest, most successful franchise in baseball? Is it a New York thing I’m never going to understand?

Or is it simply a population issue — because there are so many Yankee fans, does the vocal minority of jerks every team carries mean that there are too many of those jerks, and they’re out reinforcing each other?

I don’t know.

And, as a stickler for this kind of stuff, I want to point out that from the page — “No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.”

Um, claiming that’s the case won’t make it true. Fair use, kids, let’s all play nicely.


34 Responses to “Caple on Yanks-Sox”

  1. Bill Fugazi on March 7th, 2005 10:01 am

    Since you brought it up, I’ve always wondered about that subject. Can you reccomend a good primer (preferably online) for fair-use laws?

  2. cinthree on March 7th, 2005 10:01 am

    I’d say it is a population issue, there are just so many of us, and the most annoying are always the most vocal about it. I’m a Yankee fan and the only fans that are more annoying are Jet fans. It possibly might be a byproduct of Red Sox fans who tend to think they are the greatest fans because their team loses, though that could just be the Red Sox fans I know.

  3. Brian Rust on March 7th, 2005 10:09 am

    Typically, New Yorkers think of their city as the center of the universe, if not merely the world or the country. Couple that superiority complex with the fact that the Yankees are the vestigial reminder of the era (1946-58) when New York truly WAS the center of the baseball universe, and you have a recipe for really obnoxious fans.

    The good part of this is, there’s no need to hack them up with an axe. Just dragging them off to the wilderness would be a fate worse than death.

  4. paul on March 7th, 2005 10:12 am

    The other thing I love about Yankee fans (and Yankee media) is that a lot of them call the place where Yankee games are played “The Stadium”, like there’s no other place to play or watch baseball.

    And yes, I have the same problem with the San Francisco media referring to San Francisco as “The City” (always capitalized).

  5. dw on March 7th, 2005 10:17 am

    We went up to Cooperstown three years ago and stayed in a local B&B (whose name currently escapes me, sadly). The owner and operator of the B&B was an older gentleman who had washed out of the Yankees farm in the 1950s, but during that time he’d been teammates with the guys that were part of that dynasty. So, of course, he knew baseball. Still, I could tell that he really wanted to hear what people in other cities knew, and while it was clear he believed in the superiority of the Yankees (we had some interesting discussions about why the ’01 M’s had failed in the ALCS), he believed in the superiority of THE GAME far more.

    Sadly, his kind are few and far between with Yankees fans. But he is a Yankee, and he believes that the game is something much bigger than the two dozen plus titles they’ve won. So, there are a few out there.

    Then again, it may just be Cooperstown.

  6. Will D. on March 7th, 2005 10:20 am

    Bill F:

    The same applies to the verbal warning you get on tv broadcasts. Even though they say you can’t, you can reproduce their broadcast without written permission. Like if you’re recording the game on your vcr, for example.

  7. paul on March 7th, 2005 10:25 am

    And yeah, Derek, it’s a New York thing. If you’re born and raised in the five boroughs, you firmly believe, as the New Yorker cover famously showed in the 70’s, that the world pretty much ends at the Hudson.

  8. Evan on March 7th, 2005 10:32 am

    Okay, I’m about to go WAY off-topic here, mostly because I’m hoping to get some advice and this seems the best place to look.

    And, I don’t think it’s terribly important that we discuss the Yankees in great detail.

    So anyway, I want to come to Seattle to see some games. Ideally, I want tickets to the May 13-14 games against the Red Sox. I’m trying to buy tickets from the web site, and it keeps giving me tickets I don’t want. I want field level tickets, and I want them to be on the first-base side of the field (basically in foul territory off right field). But the web site keeps giving me tickets in left.

    Since it’s all the same category, how do I switch sides? Do I have to book by phone to get that much control?

  9. giuseppe on March 7th, 2005 10:32 am

    Sorry this isn’t related and I don’t mean to promote a particular airline, product or service, but I figured some of you may be interested as it could be baseball related and I think there a number of gadget geeks that frequent this blog.

    Alaska Airlines (and some other airlines I think) are currently having a promotion for a free Blackberry if you fly between March 2 and April 30 on Alaska Airlines. I know some people were considering ST trips. Alaska flies into Tucson, Phoenix and Vegas (if you’re considering those two Cubs games on the 1st and 2nd).

    If you’re going anyway, pick up a free Blackberry. You have to sign a two-year agreement, but I figure if it works out for someone it could be pretty neat.

    Again, sorry if this type of post isn’t allowed. Go ahead and throw me in the mod queue.

  10. Evan on March 7th, 2005 10:35 am

    Okay, I’m dumb. I figured it out.

  11. tede on March 7th, 2005 10:41 am

    Strike the first sixteen words and insert the word “Boston” and Caple could have saved himself some effort.

    There has not been any more obnoxious set of post-season books on one team since the 1986 Mets.

    All because Rivera would not throw over to first base more often to check Roberts in Game 4.

    At least Raider fans can’t read or write.

  12. Anthony on March 7th, 2005 10:46 am

    As a Yankee fan, I can tell you most Yankee fans annoy me. There’s a sense of entitlement amongst many of my brethren (“I was born within 50 miles of the Bronx, therefore I deserve to root for a world champion, dammit!”). Not all of us are like that though. Some of us are tolerable. Really. Please don’t hack us to bits.

    RE: “The Stadium”…that has nothing to do with a sense of superiority (which no doubt exists, just not in this case). It’s just shorter and easier. Same with Madison Square Garden; to us, it’s just the Garden. Yankee Stadium is called the Stadium and Shea Stadium is called Shea. There’s no dig directed at other parks. Honest.

  13. Eric on March 7th, 2005 11:32 am

    There is an old quote about George H.W. Bush, “George was born on 3rd base and thinks he hit a triple.” This sums up Yankee fans as well. They will not acknowledge the inherent financial advantage the Yankees operate under. Say their payroll is an advantage and they say “It isn’t about money, lots of teams have huge payrolls and lose” or “Look at the Twins and As, they win with small payrolls” Both of which are true but also irrelevant. Sure it takes a smart GM to win even with a huge payroll, but all in all a smart GM and a virtually unlimited budget will do a lot better than a smart GM and a limited budget:-)

  14. Christopher Michael on March 7th, 2005 12:04 pm

    It doesn’t help that they constantly bring up their championships whenever they are losing an argument. I think its more of a population thing. I’m living in St. Louis territory and if I’m about to shoot someone if I have to hear another person squeel about how Pujols is the best thing ever.

    Although I shut them up the other day when they were making fun of a Reds fan. What do the Reds and the Cardinals have in common? Neither one of them won a WS game.

  15. Milorad V on March 7th, 2005 12:09 pm

    Who is more annoying? A sub-literate self-important Yanks fan or the 290 lbs. Little League Mom who wears 17 pieces of Mariners’ regalia to every game, scarcely pays attention, but to shriek the players first names (or the diminuitives she’s learned from Niehaus) when they come to bat?
    They are the same. Rabid fandom is like heartfelt Nationalism…it stinks like sh**t no matter who’s cooking.
    Cool, pleasurable appreciation of the sport of baseball is praticed by a very few…
    Rabid fans are essential for funding, I know, and for crowd-noise…but thats it.
    A discussion on the state of specific varieties of fandom? ZZZZZZZZZ.

  16. Evan on March 7th, 2005 1:13 pm

    Rabid fans attract casual fans. It’s the nature of fandom.

    Raph Koster of Sony Online Entertainment wrote a great paper about this some years ago. The hardcore fans are needed to make the game seem important to casual fans.

  17. zzyzx on March 7th, 2005 1:33 pm

    Milorad V: Sounds like you sat next to the person that drove me away from having season tickets in 2000.

  18. tede on March 7th, 2005 2:23 pm

    Milorad V…..I think she sat next to me during Edgar’s last game.

  19. Derek J on March 7th, 2005 2:43 pm

    I think Milorad had it right in #15. What always burns me about people talking smack about Yankee fans is that everyone wants to pretend that it’s only Yankee fans who behave in a boorish fashion. The rest of the country never heard of such a thing. A fan who can’t take criticism of his team? Must be some damn New Yorker. A belligerent jerk who makes up one-sided trades that only favor his team? Obviously, must be a Yankee fan. Guy who doesn’t flush their urinal at the ballpark? Yankee fan. No one else would do that.

    What a crock. Haven’t done a scientific survey, but it’s always seemed to me that there are jerks everywhere. It’s the nature of sports fans to consider themselves superior, to think that their team is special and that they, as fans, are special people for following that team.

    The Yankees have lots of jerks who follow the team, but then again they have lots and lots of very decent fans, too. The jerks are empowered because the team has been good for the past decade–just like jerks would be anywhere in the country.

    But I guess everyone else wants to act like there aren’t any fans of their team that are an embarassment.

  20. DMZ on March 7th, 2005 2:52 pm

    But I guess everyone else wants to act like there aren’t any fans of their team that are an embarassment.

    What? No one said that or anything like it. Even in the post, I speculated that the perception of Yankees fans as jerks might be due to the fact that their jerk-related base is proportionally the same and so numerically much larger.

  21. Christopher Michael on March 7th, 2005 3:54 pm

    A matter of fact I even stated how St. Louis fans can be just as bad.

  22. IgnatiusReilly on March 7th, 2005 4:29 pm

    No…I would say New Yorkers are generally less pleasant. Just spend significant time there, it really isn’t the same world.

    People will mow you down on an escalator for god’s sake. People in Seattle need 10 cups of coffee a day just to keep from falling asleep, tilting their heads back, and drowning in the rain.

    However, the real issue is just bandwagon mentality. Attending games against Anaheim in 2003 was a most unpleasant experience, and New York / Boston always have a healthy supply of bandwagoners just due to all the hoopla that surrounds them.

  23. tvwxman on March 7th, 2005 4:50 pm

    Having gone to school in Upstate N.Y. (at a college filled with kids from the tri-state area; I was one of 2 students from the west coast), and having worked in NY for a few years, I’ve had my fill of most Yankee fans.

    I do have several friends who are Yankee fans yet are knowledgeable, insightful, smart and realistic about baseball. But by and large, many more had no clue, and treated championships like it was their birthright (as explained above).

    I thought it was funny that when I came back to school from summer break in 1995, the same people who were sporting New York Ranger jerseys/t-shirts/hats last year were all of a sudden wearing New Jersey Devils gear. Wonder how that happened?

    That being said, I’ll take NY fans over Philly fans any day.

  24. Jason on March 7th, 2005 6:28 pm

    Nice to hear from some Yankees fans with brains. I’ve never met one, and some of my best friends are Yank fans! I just wanted to share my all time favorite analogy on the subject: ROOTING FOR THE YANKEES IS LIKE GOING TO VEGAS AND ROOTING FOR THE HOUSE. I read it on, I think it was Neyer, not sure.

  25. Jonathan on March 7th, 2005 7:02 pm

    RE #23, I knew it was just a matter of time before someone brought up Philly fans. I think if the poor folks in Philly had even a fraction of the opportunities for happiness that the Yankee faithful have had, you’d see a much nicer bunch of fans. That being said, yes they did boo Santa Claus, and yes, he had it coming. Booing Mike Schmidt at the end of his career, however, that was just tacky.

  26. Anthony on March 7th, 2005 7:05 pm

    #23 – While Yankee fans are certainly among the most obnoxious, they’re also among the most knowledgable. Anyone I know who goes to all the ballparks routinely says that New York, Boston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Chicago stand out above the other baseball towns. While every team has its diehards–and no one group of diehards is better than another–those cities tend to have a higher percentage of them. Interestingly, I’ve heard White Sox are far better than Cubs fans.

    Also, you can’t knock Ranger fans. They are easily the most loyal fans in New York. Knick fans are easily the worst.

  27. paul on March 7th, 2005 8:56 pm

    Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for IBM.

    – George Will (Probably the only time in my life I’ll ever quote George Will…)

  28. John Hawkins on March 7th, 2005 9:00 pm

    I had a couple of Yankee fans sit behind me at a game last year in Safeco. I guess they weren’t all that obnoxious, at least for Yankee fans. All they did was tell some poor nine year old M’s fan that Ichiro would “look really good in a Yankee’s uniform next year” when Steinbrenner signed him away from the M’s. Really classy – I guess that kind of sums up Yankee’s fans. As obnoxious as Red Sox fans, but without the excuse of being drunk.

  29. Bernard Aboba on March 7th, 2005 9:10 pm

    I grew up in the Bronx during the late 60s and early 70s, during the period in which CBS owned the Yankees and Mike Burke was the GM. Kubek, Richardson, Boyer, Ford, Bouton, Terry, Mantle, Maris, Skowron, Berra, Howard were all gone… replaced by Horace Clark, Jerry Kenney and Roy White. Joe Pepitone was well…. Joe Pepitone. The low point was the wife swapping incident between Kekich and Peterson.

    New York during that period was going through hard times; in a few years the city would veer into banruptcy. “The Stadium” was in need of repair. The Yankees finished last in 1966. I remember going to a game in the early 70s and sitting next to an elderly man who lived in the neighborhood and had seasons tickets. He had lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years, had seen Gehrig, DiMag, Mantle, Martin, etc. And now, in the twilight of his life, he was sitting at a day game, watching Horace Clark play second base. He tried to explain to me what I had missed during the 1950s, when this sad looking Stadium that smelled of urine was “the capital of baseball”, during the years 1949 – 1964, when New York teams were in the world series all but two years (1948 & 1959). It was difficult for me to fathom.

    Thinking back on it years later, it became clear to me that the relationship of the Bronx to the Yankees was fundamentally different form the relationship of Brooklyn to the Dodgers. Given their history, Dodger fans were willing to “wait until next year”. But for Yankee fans were somewhat like an hieress that had lost her fortune and now had to subsist on the kindness of strangers; there was a palpable sense of loss, twinged with bitterness. The decline of the neighborhood, the decline of the team, the decline of New York… it all blended together. You didn’t see many Yankees caps on the streets of the Bronx in those days.

    The Dodgers of the 1950s lived in the neighborhood, and were beloved not only for their play but who they were as people. That gave the fans a much deeper connection that allowed them to “wait until next year” and forgive the team their transgressions. The Yankees never developed that deep bond with the Bronx, because, among other things, most of the players chose not to live there. It’s a lot more difficult to treat a player badly after a poor play if you see them in the neighborhood after the game.

    By the late 70s, things were looking up again. The economy improved. George Steinbrenner bought the team, and Gabe Paul put together the nucleus of the club that would take the AL pennant in 1976-78. At the same time, the Bronx began a rebuilding process. The relationship of the Yankees and the neighborhood changed as well, from one of embarassment, to pride. However, that pride had little in common with the pride of Dodger fans of the 1950s who delighted not only in the play of the team but in their character as well; it was more of a “we’ll show them!” attitude.

  30. planB on March 7th, 2005 9:51 pm

    #1; a slightly more focused link:

  31. tede on March 7th, 2005 9:56 pm

    “The low point was the wife swapping incident between Kekich and Peterson.”

    Low point? I thought Fritz Peterson made out pretty well on the deal (sorry no wins shares analysis). Kekich ended up divorced and a member of the expansion Seattle Mariners.

    Rick Manning didn’t even offer Dennnis Eckersley a trade.

  32. Colm on March 7th, 2005 11:19 pm

    Re. 24

    That’s the best line I’ve read all day.

  33. Colm on March 7th, 2005 11:31 pm

    To put this in perspective:

    I grew up on the other side of the water and lived there till fairly recently. No set of baseball fans that I know or know of can approach the arrant, virulent lunacy of the football(soccer) fans in Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Turin, Rome or Milan. I could probably double this list in 20 seconds without thinking.

    And do you know what? We here in the USA should be grateful. Red Sox fans can be about as unpleasant as it gets (although I too hate the Yankees more) but they can’t touch the unredeemed boorishness shown every Saturday by the fans of Milwall, Everton, West Ham, Burnley…

  34. Derek J on March 8th, 2005 8:59 am


    Not to single you out, but a lot of writers who are very smart and who I like a lot do this. Neyer seems to write this article once a year. There’s even a kind of boilerplate to the “Yankees Fans Suck” article:

    Step 1: Yankees fans suck, they’ve got a sense of entitlement and they’re mean!

    Step 2: Occasionally, you can find a Yankee fan that isn’t a complete jerk or idiot (cite Goldman or Alex Belth).

    Step 3: I sure get a lot of irrational hate mail whenever I write anything about the Yankees…

    It seems like if someone’s going to mention the boorish behavior of any team’s fans, it always comes with the disclaimer that it’s a small minority of those fans that misbehave, and for the most part, they’re fine human beings. The two exceptions in MLB are Philly fans with the booing (I’ve never heard anyone defend Philadelphia on that score, so I can’t even comment) and Yankee fans.

    For some reason, it’s perfectly acceptable to reverse the disclaimer when anyone talks about Yankees fans–the vast majority of them are jerks, but there’s a couple of them out there you can actually talk to. Despite the fact that you feel “a little bad” about writing it, that’s what your post said. And since most folks hate the Yankees, most people ain’t going to object to a little Yankee fan bashing.

    So Jeff (in #28) can talk about a couple of jerks that sat behind him once (and I’m sure that he, and the rest of the Safeco crowd was extremely polite to them, too) as not “all that obnoxious…for Yankee fans.” And naturally, he’s right! This shows that Jeff has discovered our secret: Yankee fans all hate children. Except as snacks. I’m told that Irish children are particularly tasty.

    I really like DZ’s writing (and Neyer’s, and even Caple’s sometimes), but it does seem somewhat off that folks feel entitled to generalize about Yankee fans based on (relatively speaking) a few jerks.

    Christopher (#21): I should have mentioned your post along with Milorad’s. I definitely didn’t get the impression you were a Cards fan, though.

    As for all the “born on third base…hit a triple” (which, BTW, is way older than GW Bush) and “like rooting for the house in blackjack” jibes, it’s kind of funny to hear people complain that Yankee fans act like they’re superior, when hearing judgmental stuff like this. It’s not like Yankee fans selected their team based on its financial advantages, or like the rest of the country selected their teams based on the “virtue” of having less money. By and large, who you root for is an accident of birth and geography.

    If anybody’s going to judge me to be a worse baseball fan than them based on that, that’s their problem.