I am a New York Yankees fan. They were the only Baseball team I had known about before I came to the U.S. 14 years ago and it was natural that I would start following them once I decided to follow Baseball. I needed to follow American sports on TV to fill up the hole left by Cricket after having left India during the Internet dark ages.
Being a Yankees fan is a unique experience. No matter where you go in the world, you’ll see at least a few Yankee hats. In fact, when I went to Lord’s last year to watch the India-England test, I was wearing a Yankee hat and met a few fellow Yankee fans there, at the supposed Home of Cricket. The other side of the coin is that, the world is also filled with Yankee Haters. For every Yankee fan you will meet, you will meet two who aren’t.
Yankees have a long history of success and since the days of George Steinbrenner, excess as well. The late Steinbrenner would go to any length to make sure his team won. Money was, literally, nothing. The payroll of the Yankees was always tops in the league and he brought in expensive talented players to always go for that next ring. Plenty of Baseball fans absolutely detest the Yankees for all their success and the bloated payroll.
For a lot of the teams in Major League Baseball (MLB), making the playoffs and playing in October itself is a creditable achievement. Not so for the Yankees. Playoffs are a given. It is a shocker when they don’t at least get in to the playoffs. A season where they don’t win the championship ring is considered a failure. In the 108 years history of World Series, the Yankees have won it an absolutely mindboggling 27 times. That is, one out of every four seasons, they have been the last team standing.
Every season that the Yankees don’t make the playoffs or get knocked out of the playoffs is a moment of great satisfaction and enjoyment for non-Yankee fans. Some friendly needling tinted with schadenfreude is quite common.
It was quite surprising to see such reaction on Twitter and elsewhere amongst the followers of IPL a few days ago when Gilchrist pushed Chennai Super Kings to the brink. The fate of CSK is hanging by the proverbial thread and out of their hands. As the match between Kings XI and CSK was winding down and it became quite clear that CSK are not going to win it, and have to rely on a lot of other things to go their to make the playoffs, the banter between the CSK fans and non-CSK fans became louder.
It is quite interesting to note that in just the fifth year of its existence, the IPL pecking order has been set. Sure, Mumbai also have the money, influence and the players to rival CSK-hatred, but their on-field accomplishment besides the lone CLT20 win in 2011 pales in comparison. No, I am not saying CSK are IPL’s New York Yankees but there are similarities between the two in terms of the fan following and the haters, big shot owner, trophies etc.
For every tweet I see on my timeline during a CSK match from a CSK fan, I see 4 that mock CSK, their fans, N Srinivasan, their captain MS Dhoni etc. In fact, check out this guy’s TL. He is the prime example of a CSK hater.
IPL5 has rebounded quite well from the drop in ratings in 2011. Almost all the stadiums have been full. Even after 60 matches, fan interest hasn’t really waned. Even fans of teams that occupied the bottom of the table for most of the tournament have still stayed clued in. I’d like to think the prospect of CSK not making the playoffs has brought a great amount of joy to these. As you know, every fairytale needs a good villain.
Before I go, following in the footsteps of my reverse jinxing post of last week, here is me again hoping Kings XI and RCB get what they want and boot CSK out of the playoffs (wink, wink).