Fans love to discuss what makes a championship team. Elite starting pitching, clutch hitting, and power bullpen arms are some of the many features commonly mentioned.
When it comes to the Yankees, there is a common theme with all of their championship clubs: a villain.
In 2009 it was A-Rod. As talented as he was, he was despised by pretty much every non-Yankee fan. He was talented, good looking, and rich, which are generally three of the main criteria to be a villain. Part of being a Yankee villain means that half of your OWN FAN BASE doesn’t like you. To this day, there are Yankee fans that still hate Rodriguez despite everything he’s done for the franchise. Alex was a dominant player with some personality flaws that made a ton of money and a few mistakes. But without him, the Yankees are sitting on a 20-year title drought.
The 1999 and 2000 teams had an obvious villain, Roger Clemens. The Rocket was constantly juicing. He was a psychopath on the mound, throwing baseballs at batters heads and even throwing bats at players running the bases. Other teams despised Clemens for his head hunting, but also because he was so damn good. His demeanor is as primal as they come, snorting and grunting on the mound and screaming after a big strikeout. This type of alpha male mound presence was shared by Pedro Martinez, another classic baseball villain.
Going back to the 70’s, the villain was Mr. October. Reggie Jackson was brash and cocky, never afraid to speak his mind or call someone out. He didn’t always hustle and didn’t get along with his manager (it is worth noting his manager was a volatile alcoholic). However, Reggie always stepped up in the big moments, and after his third home run in game six of the ’77 series, it was tough to find a Yankee fan that still didn’t like him.
The 2019 Yankees are by and large a group of good guys, but one guy that fans have yet to embrace is Giancarlo Stanton.
Despite driving in 100 runs in 2018 and playing 159 games while the rest of his teammates sat out with injuries, he’s gotten zero love since he’s been here. Stanton has been out all year with a rash of injuries, and there is a sizable portion of Yankee fans that legitimately don’t even want him to come back! MLB Network recently did a segment where they debated whether Stanton coming back would hurt the team’s chemistry. Yes, there are fans and analysts that think that adding the 2017 National League MVP to the fold will somehow make the Yankees worse.
Like Rodriguez before him, Stanton is rich, talented and handsome. I’m sure a portion of male Yankee fans are simply jealous of Giancarlo, which leads to some of the hate. Additionally, he did’t come through the Yankee system, so some fans will never consider him a true Yankee. (Ridiculous)
Regardless off your opinion of Stanton, his addition will make the Yankees better. This isn’t my opinion, it’s a fact. If you believe that the Yankees are better off without Stanton, it’s time to take a look in the mirror.
Stanton has begun to take BP on the field, and he should be back just in time for October.
Perfect timing, because this team needs a villain.