Derek Jeter announced this week that he is retiring following the 2014 season. I am relatively ambivalent about this news, but it has caused me to reflect on my feelings toward all things Yankee. I am a Cubs fan and, since the Cubs are in the National League while the Yankees are in the American league and the Cubs have not been to a World Series since 1945, I have very little reason to root against the Yankees. Yet I do…relentlessly. I don’t want them to win…EVER! Why is that? What is it about the Yankees that evokes such loathing in my spirit?
First, ENVY. The Yankees have something that my team does not…a team that contends perennially and has won a championship (multiple actually) within my lifetime. I want that. I want it even more since 2003 when the Cubs made the playoffs and lost a heartbreaking series to the Marlins. I am envious.
Second, IMPATIENCE. The Cubs are always trying to build a contending team, but the Yankees just go out and buy one. They seem to have no limit on funds, so they get the players they need to put a good team on the field every year. I am sick of waiting until next year. I am impatient.
Third, VILIFICATION. Because the Yankees are always good, I blame them that my team quite often is not. They “stole” the players that could have helped my team. They get what they want and leave others in the lurch. And they do it seemingly without consequence. It feels unfair…so it must be evil. And then when stories like the recent saga with Alex Rodriguez surface, it just adds fuel to the flames of my vilification of the Yankees.
Finally, MALICE. As a Cubs fan, I’ve experienced a lot of loss with my team. And I want other teams to feel that too. I want them to understand what it’s like to be mired in mediocrity for years, always showing signs of hope, but never living up to the hype. I want them to feel my pain.
So…Derek Jeter, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I cannot honor you in your impending retirement. I’m sorry I cannot celebrate your outstanding career and rejoice in watching highlights of the five World Series you’ve won with your team. I’m sorry that I cannot praise you and your accomplishments, which are great. It is not your fault. If you had come into the MLB as a Cub, this would be a completely different story. I would be rejoicing with a great joy for your astounding career achievements and the leadership you showed over the past 19 seasons. But your affiliation with the Yankees inherently diminishes your accomplishments in my mind. It is not fair. You have done nothing to deserve my ire. So, I apologize. I wish you a great deal of joy in your retirement and would welcome you to the Cubs as a coach or instructor should you ever decide to go that direction (though I’m sure the Yankees would sweep in and gobble you up first). Until then, I will continue to root against you, but it’s not you, it’s me. I should take a lesson from my own writing and learn to love my enemies. Forgive me!