HOUSTON – We're just a few hours away from the start of Game 1 of the ALCS between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees.
No matter where you are outside of New York (or sometimes inside of New York, as I'll later discuss), Yankee hatred is always in vogue. So we thought it would be fun to feed the fire by discussing the things that make the Yankees particularly annoying:
1. Joe Girardi's anti-Astros commentary
Let's start with the one I've heard recently from several Houston sports fans. During the Tampa Bay series, Houstonians watching the MLB network had to endure the openly anti-Astros commentary of ex-Yankees player and manager Joe Girardi. To be sure, Girardi was always a candid and relatable guy in his interviews as manager. And to be fair, his 2017 Yankees squad lost in seven games to the Astros in the ALCS. It was a hard-fought series that the Yankees had a legitimate shot to win.
An offhanded joke or two about his bitterness would have sufficed. But he harped on it over and over and over. It seemed every time the Astros' 2017 playoff run was mentioned, he'd remind us the Yankees lost. He took every opportunity to nitpick Astros play, often without reason. Even basic base running drew his criticism. And when fellow commentators A.J. Pierzynski and Kenny Albert tried to credit Astros play, Girardi would chime in with something like, "Well, the Rays still have a shot." But worst of all, he couldn't stop referring to Astros reliever Will Harris as "Will Smith."
He did so multiple times with no correction from anyone until Harris finally emerged from the bullpen with "Harris" plainly displayed on his back. Girardi's a duly well-respected figure, but now that the Astros are actually playing the Yankees, don't expect the on-air bias to get any better.
2. Helmet problems
This one goes out to a pair of helmet incidents, one of which actually drew blood. It seems like an easy enough piece of equipment to manage. But with Yankees players, they can apparently play hide-and-seek or full-on maul. During last year's playoff series against the Red Sox, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez apparently misplaced his own helmet in the ninth inning.
He had to borrow teammate Miguel Andujar's until his own was found.
Then this past June, Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner was in the midst of a one-for-23 slump. In a contest with the Indians, he had what he thought was an extra-base hit, but Indians outfielder Jordan Luplow made a five-star catch to rob Gardner and send him back to the dugout, where he ill-advisedly took his frustration out on his helmet. The helmet returns the favor with six stitches to Gardner's lip.
Check out this hilarious parody from Fox Sports.
3. There's no need to compare the 2019 Astros to the 1927 Yankees
No matter the situation, people seem to go to old Yankees teams for comparisons. It makes sense for a franchise that has 27 World Series and has so much essential history. But unfortunately, the current Astros lineup has been no exception, with many recent comparisons to the late 1920s Yankees hitters.
Those teams included a core lineup the featured legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and also Hall of Famers Earle Combs and Tony Lazzeri, known colloquially as "Murderers' Row." That team won 110 games in 1927 and went on to win three World Series.
Now, the Astros are indeed stacked with hitters that hit for both power and average. The team's five, six, and seven hitters could hit in the heart of the order for most other teams. But it feels jinxy to compare them to the likes of Ruth and Gehrig when they haven't yet won a World Series with this lineup and when they're about to play a Yankees team. It also feels like robbing them of their own identity.
(I loved when Serena Williams said that she didn't want to be compared to any other athlete but wanted to be known for her own play.)
The Dodgers' loss in the NLDS was enough of a reminder that the playoffs can be fleeting and unforgiving. Each time I hear comparisons to Murderers' Row, I feel like someone's just asking for a new Bambino curse.
4. A History of violence
My personal dislike of Yankee fandom was sealed during the 2004 ALCS against Boston. The Red Sox were on their way to an improbable comeback from three games to none down to win the series in seven games. During Game 6, Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo fielded a routine ground ball from Yankee shortstop Alex Rodriguez and went to tag him before he reached first base.
A-Rod blatantly made an illegal move by slapping the ball from Arroyo's hand, which could have resulted in injury. Rodriguez said later that he did not regret the move. He was correctly called out after umpire review. But even after the replay made clear what had happened, Yankee fans booed the decision and started throwing objects (including baseballs) onto the field, making the field hazardous and delaying the game.
Can you picture Astros fans doing any of this?
5. The Yankees don't equal New York City
Though I grew up in Houston and consider it my first city, I lived in New York for seven years. I love New York. And each time my friends and family visited, I'd try to draw them away from Manhattan, away from Times Square, away from Broadway. I wanted them to see the outer boroughs, the places less explored. The diverse neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The great international food of Queens.
And just as many around the country get the impression that "Times Square" equals "New York", so goes with the Yankees. But there are many, many people in New York City who are either indifferent or outright hostile to the Yankees. In fact, you may have heard there's a whole other professional baseball team there! (Sure, the Mets have had their ups and downs, but their fans are passionate and loyal, as New York-raised comedian Steve Hofstetter will tell you (language: NSFW).
So each time I hear a Houstonian use the Yankees as an example of why they don't like New York (or as an excuse to use that terrible phrase "it's nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there"), my heart breaks a little bit.
6. They are "savages"
Yankees manager Aaron Boone has been ejected five times in 2019, accounting for more than half of his team's ejections during the entire season. But Yankee fans see this as a badge of honor, apparently. Enough so that one of the ejections led to an entire meme. Superfan Jimmy O'Brien, also known as "Jomboy," dissected ample video of Boone cursing out an umpire over a call at the plate (obviously NSFW), referring to his players as "savages."
The idea stuck, and Yankee fans ran with it, but not before Brett Gardner felt it necessary to give a percussion concert in the dugout, an aggravating practice he continued throughout the season. Even New York media eventually called for Gardner to cut it out after a while.
What are some things you find most annoying about the Yankees? Let us know in the comments.