COMMENTARY | The Yankees rule New York with an iron fist ... and it's not even close.
The Big Apple loves winners and no team in Major League Baseball history has done more of it than the New York Yankees. From Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the 1920s to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera today, the franchise has almost always had someone around to talk about.
Here are just five reasons why New York is without a doubt a Yankees town.
No team in North American professional sports has won as much, or as often, as the Yankees. Their 27 World Series titles is more than double any other team in MLB (the St. Louis Cardinals are a distant second with 11) and only the Montreal Canadiens with their 23 Stanley Cups comes close in any sport.
The Yankees have won 40 American League pennants. In a sport that plays twice as many regular-season games as any other sport, the Yankees' .568 winning percentage is the best in MLB history. Overall, only the Chicago Bears (.578) and Dallas Cowboys (.573) of the National Football League; the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Lakers (.619), Boston Celtics (.594) and San Antonio Spurs (.590); and the Canadiens (.589) and Philadelphia Flyers (.578) of the National Hockey League can boast a higher winning percentage.
No American League team boasts more Hall of Famers than the Yankees' 43. The only teams in MLB with more players enshrined in Cooperstown-the New York/San Francisco Giants, the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves-have been around since 1883, 1884 and 1876, respectively.
And oh, the names that have played at both iterations of old Yankee Stadium as well as the new version that opened in 2009.
Babe Ruth was the first megastar in the city that never sleeps, so much of a star, in fact, that the old stadium was simply known as "The House that Ruth Built." Lou Gehrig and his iconic streak of 2,130 consecutive games made a statement about the value of just showing up and doing your job every day. Joe DiMaggio thrilled crowds at the stadium in parts of three decades from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Mickey Mantle picked up the mantle of the most glamorous of the Yankees and wore it proudly for almost 20 years.
That's not even mentioning Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera, other Yankees who have reached iconic status.
No other franchise in New York can compare to the history and tradition of the Yankees. The New York Mets have been around for more than 50 years and have but two championships to their name. The New York Knicks began play in 1946 and have just two championships. The Brooklyn Nets haven't won anything since their days in the old American Basketball Association. The New York Islanders put together a nice run in the early 1980s with four straight Stanley Cups, but since then it's been pretty bleak out on the Island. The New York Rangers? Try one Stanley Cup since 1940.
The Giants and Jets are New York teams in name only at this point, having moved across the Hudson to New Jersey decades ago-the Giants in 1975 and the Jets in 1984.
The Yankees ruled baseball for the better part of four decades, from the late 1930s into the mid-1960s, before falling on hard times (or what most other franchises would merely term "mediocrity"). The late George Steinbrenner, however, changed the culture of the Yankees, for better or, as some believe, worse, upon purchasing the team from CBS in 1973.
The team put together back-to-back World Series champs in 1977 and 1978 and Steinbrenner kept the Yankees in the news, whether it was because the team was winning, because there was turmoil amid yet another change of managers or because the team just signed or traded for another star player.
After another down period in the 1980s and early 1990s, the franchise returned to prominence in the 1990s with four World Series titles in a five-year span from 1996-2000 and the team added another crown in 2009.
Few uniforms in professional sports are as iconic as the classic Yankees' pinstripes, which debuted in 1912 and have been around non-stop since 1936. The interlocking "NY" on the cap has been a fixture since before World War I. The Yankees are also one of the few teams in professional sports with personal appearance guidelines.
Since George Steinbrenner purchased the team, long hair and beards have been prohibited. While several star players, including Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson and Dave Winfield have grown beards to protest or simply as a negotiating tool, other notable players including Johnny Damon, Randy Johnson and Jason Giambi radically changed their looks upon joining the Yankees.
Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mariano Rivera
- New York
- Derek Jeter
- Babe Ruth
- Major League Baseball
- National Football League