Moe Money, Moe Problems: Breaking Up With a Winner

Lately, things just haven't really been working out. It was time to face the writing on the wall. We've been growing apart. It might be good to see other people, go our separate ways. Take a break for a while.

We both knew that this had been a long time coming.

"It's not you, it's me," I find myself saying.


So, after 15 years of dedication, love, and more than a few tears, I just have to come out and say it:

The New York Yankees and I are breaking up.

Such is the end of my Yankee fan's career. With the addition of yet another World Series title, my disenchantment has peaked.

Love can turn so easily to hate.

The fact of the matter is that the Yankees just got too good.

Now, mind you, I was there through thick and thin. I wasn't a fair-weather fan. I stood by my team amidst George Steinbrenner's excommunication, sub-.500 seasons, and Mariah Cary showboating--moments that would have made even the most die-hard Cubs fan grimace.

Sure, there were token flashes of good times from 1985 to 1995. Don Mattingly was a perennial all-star, Ricky Henderson was a stolen base glutton, and Jim Abbott redefined athleticism.

I treasure those memories.

But, on the whole, the Yankees were nothing special on the field. They flirted with the playoffs every so often, while some years they weren't even the best team in New York.

But what we had went beyond the win-loss column. Like any loyal fan, I stayed with them.

However, the past 5 years have been a different story. With more money to spend than George W., the Yankees have courted the like of Sammy Sosa and Randy Johnson. Just this year, Denny Neagle, David Justice, and Jose Canseco were added mid-season as pricey, trophy players.

Since 1995, the Yankee roster has been as volatile as the NASDAQ and as endearing as a presidential convention.

They're like a different team to me.

In his Oct. 15 column, New York Times sportswriter Robert Lipsyte called the Yankees the "Harvard" of baseball. Although in some ways a flattering comparison, I'm not sure when Harvard became synonymous with winning.

Instead, I would argue that the 2000 New York Yankees is the Microsoft of Major League Baseball. They have created two of the most hated dynasties in the last decade. We moan that they are the manifestations of individual power-trips, that they squash the dreams of lesser-beings.

However, when push comes to shove, we all agree that they're both the best out there.

So be it. But I will not make any more false promises to myself--I won't pretend that I am still the fan I was in the early 1990's, during the honeymoon of my fan-ship.

What it all boils down to is that, in a strange way, we fans want our teams to lose, to disappoint us sometimes.

So Yankees, we're through. And I forgot: there's someone else in my life.

In many ways, the Stanley Cup-hoisting New Jersey Devils is the kind of organization that fans like me dream about.

First, the Devils are from New Jersey, which alone elicits a good amount of abuse within hockey circles.

But more importantly, the Devils are really good at losing. During the 1998 season, the No. 1 seeded Devils lost to the No. 8 seeded Ottawa in the first round of the playoffs.

This was so humiliating and demoralizing that the Devils decided to repeat the performance the following year.

This year, however, after leveling their fan-base and exposing us to the taunts of cross-river Ranger fans, the Devils came back with an awe-inspiring run all the way to the Stanley Cup.

It was nothing short of glorious. And infinitely more gratifying than a Yankees three-peat.

As fans, we want teams to test our loyalties. We want them to be as embarrassing and hapless as they are victorious and masterful.

True fans appreciate the difficulty of following a team, of having to swallow a lot disappointment. We don't want it to be easy to be a fan, or even for it be popular.

Being a fan is about compromise. It's too easy to be a Yankee fan. It's no longer about the love.

But this won't change them.

With rumors of Manny Ramirez and Mike Mussina wearing pinstripes in the spring, it does not look likely that New York will finish in the basement of the AL East.

There will be no return to the glory days of sub-.500 baseball in the near future.

So I'm moving on with my life. I'm going to put myself out there, cheer for new teams, and risk being hurt again:

S, W, F, 21, seeks MLB team prone to disappoint yet capable of pulling out 9th inning victories. Experience as an underdog a plus. Baseball teams from Boston need not apply.

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