Thursday, November 19, 2009
Yankees vs. Canadiens: A case study in hate
The following is written by David Kamoe, a life-long sports fan whose sister is a close friend. David is an avid A's fan, wen to to high school with Drew Gooden and can't believe that Giants commentator Mike Krukow used to refer to the right-centerfield expanse at Pac Bell Park as "Finley Alley," referring to Steve Finley who remarkably wore a Giants uniform for a season. David will likely be stopping by these parts a few times a month, so treat him right. And no sister jokes.
The Yankees won their 27th Commissioner’s Trophy this fall. As an A’s fan, I am steaming hot mad. This seems to be the way of the MLB landscape where the top-moneyed teams buy up all the best free agents and those of us in small markets sit around and stew. Like this: I cannot express in enough words how completely awful it is that Alexander Emmanuel Rodriquez will receive an over-sized ring that he won’t wear next April. Stinks out loud it does.
Part of what makes the Yankees so awful or rather their fans so awful is that they’ve won now 27 World Series. They’ve been around since 1903 which makes them two years younger than the A’s franchise. (The A’s began in Philadelphia in 1901) They had “Murderer’s Row” and the “Bronx Zoo” and began poaching players from teams in full in the 1970’s. Some of it was other owners being cheap (Charlie Finley) and some of it was George Steinbrenner being a tyrant.
The latter is the leitmotif of the Yankees. Their infield includes the 252-million-dollar centaur, Mark Teixeria’s ugly mug, and Jeter. The pitching staff was created out of the ruins of the Indians and Blue Jays staffs (Sabathia and Burnett) and the rest of it is just old money.
By comparison, I offer the Montreal Canadiens. The most storied team in the history of the National Hockey, Les Canadiens have hoisted the Stanley Cup a total of 24 times since the inception of the NHL in 1918. Part of what made the Canadiens so dominant was that the NHL was a six-team league until 1967. In addition, there was a clause in the draft in the 60’s that allowed the Canadiens two picks in order to select French-Canadian born players.
Needless to say, the Canadiens won early and won often. Twice (the ’55-’56 season through the ’59-’60 season and ’75-’76 season through ’78-’79 season) the Habs won the Cup multiple times. These teams included a large collection of Hall of Fame players, coaches, and executives. The Canadiens are seen as the team to be against the NHL over. But the question is: Are they? I know that they were and are hated by Bruins fans. Ken Dryden’s great book The Game details how Dryden loved playing against the Bruins in the old Boston Garden because of the scope of the rivalry. I also know that the Habs are booed repeatedly by Leafs fans whenever they roll into Air Canada Centre.
The query that I have is: Who is more hated? Is it the Yankees with their entitled fan base, hyperventilating announcers, and disdain for long hair and beards? Or is it the Canadiens with the “bleu, blanc, et rouge” and the banners littering the rafters of the Bell Centre?