Actually, not many of them are either of those things. I live among Yankees fans, watching, analyzing, a fan of a small market team witnessing how the other half lives, and how baseball royalty's minions cheer them. And I work with many Yankee supporters, all of whom are passionate, yes, but also extremely knowledgeable fans. Okay, so some of them don't realize there actually was Major League Baseball between 1979 and 1995, but still.
They love the Yankees, but love baseball even more. When the team's losing, they're the most brutal analysts this side of the back pages of the Post and Daily News.
They understand that the Steinbrenner family's money gives the franchise certain advantages. However, they also appreciate the fact there's never any doubt that the organization is devoted solely to winning a title, something that can't be said for every team in the majors.
And, as I've said before, when the Twins are ousted - even when it's the Yankees doing the ousting, with a little help from the men in blue - I do cheer for the Pinstripes.
So it was cool to watch the final out of the World Series tonight and hear people below us and next door erupt in cheers. Some cars driving by in the moments after honked their horns on Broadway. I'm guessing it was happiness over title number 27, although there's always the chance it was pure road rage or anger at a double-parked livery cab.
Next May when the Yankees sweep the Twins again in a three-game set and I hear taunts of "Wait until Mauer signs with New York," I'll grumble about buying a championship and arrogance and a salary cap and the unfairness of the whole damn system. But tonight it's fun to be a Yankee fan, or at least a fly-by fan.
While I waited for the subway home tonight, two lost teens stumbled around the platform, obviously confused about which train to take. They analyzed the subway map like Patton looking at battle plans. One looked to be about 14, the other maybe 10. They wore matching Yankee hats, and each sported Yankee jerseys - Damon for the older one, Jeter for the younger. At one point they gave up and walked up the steps, before turning around as the older boy said, "No, it's gotta be one of these trains."
Finally I asked them if they were looking for the Stadium (perceptive). They said yes and I told them where to take the A train and then to switch to the D. They thanked me, smiled, and then the older kid said, "Can you tell we're from New Jersey?"
Hopefully they eventually found their way to baseball's newest cathedral, which is starting life looking a lot like its predecessor. I don't know how the kids afforded tickets or if their parents even knew they were gone. They looked a bit apprehensive. Maybe it wasn't just because of their unfamiliarity with New York City public transportation, perhaps they were waiting for mom or dad to find them.
If they did get to see the game, it's certainly a night they'll remember forever. They probably don't even recall the last title their team won, back in 2000. It had been nine years without a championship, which for Yankee fans must feel like 90. Yeah, Yankee fans are a little spoiled. And they're probably a little naive about how the rest of the baseball world lives.
But they deserve to celebrate and honor a team that showed from the first pitch of the season that they were probably going to be the last team standing after the final pitch.
They're the best team money can buy, but the only thing that really counts is that they are the best for 2009.
So how long until the 2010 season begins?