Time to delve into the world’s most (in)famous team!
As I’m sure you’re aware, the Yankees are probably the most recognizable baseball team throughout the globe. They’re the bad guys in baseball movies, or the inspiration for them. Theirs is the most popular logo adorning ball caps the world over. They’re also the thorn in the side of many a Mets fan, and every Red Sox fan, so speaking as an NY girl who went to school in Boston… I’ll do my damndest to stay on target and remain (relatively) unbiased.
The Yankees started off as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901, moved to NY to become the Highlanders in 1903, and eventually settled into their current name by 1913. A rivalry began early on between the Yanks and the Boston Red Sox (then the Americans), but was pretty well cemented when the Sox traded them a little somebody named Babe Ruth. If you’ve never heard the name, please, for the love of all that is holy to baseball, go read an article or watch a movie, even The Sandlot, about Babe Ruth. Right. Now.
Ok, so besides The Great Bambino, the first 60 years of the century saw the Yankees exploding with talent like:
Lou Gherig – you may know his “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech, given when he had to retire from his ALS (also known as Lou Gherig’s disease)
Joe DiMaggio – beyond his unbroken 56 game hit streak, you may know him as that guy who married Marilyn Monroe
Mickey Mantle – you may know him as possibly the best switch-hitter (meaning he can bat lefty and righty) of all time
Yogi Berra – beloved by all New Yorkers for his time playing and managing both the Yankees and Mets, but you may also know him as the funny old guy in the Aflac commercials in the past decade
Roger Maris – known as the holder of the all-time home run record for one season, 61, which was ‘broken’ by some other steroid-enhanced knuckleheads in the past 20 years
Once these greats left the team, the Yankees found themselves facing a new problem: the MLB was instituting a draft in an attempt to even out the talent in the league, which meant the ever cash-laden Yanks could no longer freely buy all the fresh talent on the market. The team slumped pretty heavily until they were lead to several World Series by Reggie Jackson in the late 70’s, made all the more entertaining by new owner George Steinbrenner (watch Seinfeld for reference on that piece of work.) Even into the 80’s and early 90’s when they were teeming with great players like Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, and Don Mattingly, the Yankees weren’t playing up to their typical dynastic expectations until the mid 90’s, around the time when Joe Torre took over as manager.
The Torre era is the one I had to suffer through as the fan of the underdog NY team. Bursting at the seams with incredible players like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera the Yankees have once again been frequent visitors to the World Series, only recently falling off their playoff horse in the past few years. Many feel their unbelievable record could be due in part to their ridiculously large team salary. The Yankees payroll for 2016 is around 227 million dollars, while the average team is working with something around 130 million. However, this is not to say that an absurd amount of money buys s good team – my Mets are the poster team for money squandering during the Omar Minaya days, so do consider both sides of the argument.
Clearly I still hold a grudge against the Yanks of ‘old’ (like 1996 – mid 2000’s), but I also have a ridiculous amount of respect and awe for their past and the dynasty that they’ve built. 27 World Series titles since 1901 – they must be doing something right!