I love beating the Yankees. For almost the entire year, Yankee fans are on top. They have memories of championship stories, epic stories of playoff wins, and an unbreakable confidence in their franchise, all things that I, as a 15 year-old Mets fan, don’t have. It makes me sick to my stomach sometimes how spoiled many Yankee fans are, especially the younger ones who didn’t even endure the very few years in which the Yankees were irrelevant.
Say whatever you want about the format or necessity of interleague play, but every year, it provides me six chances to get payback. Six chances to earn bragging rights. Call it mean. Call it cruel. But as a Mets fan, I’ve earned the right to be that way and earned the right to hate the Yankees.
The tale of the Yankees versus the underdogs began over a century ago, when it was the Dodgers and Giants fans who were wishing for their chances to get payback. For decades, they had to sit back and watch the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio win one championship after another. From 1900 to when the Giants and Dodgers both left the area after the 1957 season, the Yankees won 17 world championships. The Giants and Dodgers won a combined total of six.
The Yankees quickly grew in popularity in the 1920s, overtaking even John McGraw’s Giants as New York’s team. The Giants actually kicked the Yankees out of the Polo Grounds in 1921 because they were jealous of how much the Yankees out-drew them in attendance. This was the 1921 Giants, the world champions!
The animosity between the fans was huge. As Jim Bouton explained in The New York Times, the rivalry between the two teams caused a cultural division:
Growing up in the blue-collar town of Rochelle Park, N.J., you rooted for either the Brooklyn Dodgers or the New York Giants. I was a Giants fan, and I loved going to the Polo Grounds. Nobody rooted for the Yankees in Rochelle Park. It didn’t seem sporting — like shooting fish in a barrel. Yankee fans, we believed, were the sons of bankers who lived in towns with bigger houses and nicer lawns.
-Jim Bouton NY Times 6/1/12
In the 50s, the rivalries reached their heights, with all three teams having success. The Dodgers and Yankees played seven times in the World Series over a 15-year span. However, when both teams left, the cries of “wait ’til next year” went silent. Four seasons without a team left fans with no team to root for.
The Mets gave heartbroken fans something to root for. The Mets are just like the Giants and “The Brooklyn Bums”- underdogs, disrespected by Yankee fans. This new culture of fans was built around the hardiness and resilience the Dodger and Giant fans brought has spread to the entire fanbase. After all, it does take a tough person to be a Mets fan, right?
So say what you will about how meaningless interleague play is. Rant about how you think the rivalry is dead. It’s not dead. It’s still alive and well. I will always love it when we win and hate it when they lose.
C’mon Mets, pull it out this weekend. Great win last night, one down, two to go…
Beat the Yankees.