Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More Evil: Real Madrid or the Yankees?

Let's say you were looking to pick a team to root for. You want to pick the biggest winner possible, because that's just the kind of fan that you are. And you'd like to have the most obnoxious fans possible, so that your team is widely reviled by anyone who isn't a fan. You'd like to have a soul, but it's not a requirement. Should you become a baseball fan, and root for the Yankees, or a football fan, and root for Real Madrid?

The Case for the Yankees:

The New York Yankees are the most successful team in the history of baseball. They have won 26 world championships and 39 pennants. Incredibly, 36% of all World Series have included the Yankees. No other team has ever won 20 league pennants. A list of the all-time Yankee greats requires no first names: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Jackson, Mattingly, Jeter.

How have the Yankees been so successful? Representing the purity of the American national pastime, the Yankees are the biggest winners because they spent more money than anyone else. They purchased Babe Ruth for $125,000 from the Red Sox. Their current payroll is over $200 million, more than $65 million more than their closest competitors.

Because of their success, Yankee fans are intolerably arrogant. Therefore, the Yankees are widely hated by everyone else. The Yankees have been dubbed the "Evil Empire." Chicago columnist Mike Royko once said, "hating the New York Yankees is as American as apple pie, unwed mothers and cheating on your income tax." Rooting for the Yankees has been described as owning a yacht or, in a bygone era, rooting for U.S. Steel. Overall, a very convincing profile of a team that you would pick if you just want to root for a winner to feel better about yourself.

The Case for Real Madrid:

Real Madrid is the most successful club in the history of European football. In 78 La Liga seasons, Real Madrid have been champions 31 times, and been runners-up 18 times. That's an astonishing 63% of the time that Real Madrid have finished in the top two in the table. Additionally, Real Madrid have won the Copa del Rey 17 times and finished runners-up 19 times. In European competition, Real Madrid are the most successful club in history, having won the European Cup/Champions League 9 times, including the first five competitions held.

That era of Real Madrid dominance was brought about by Real Madrid buying expensive foreign players from overseas, most notably Alfredo di Stefano. Similarly in modern times, Real Madrid has become synonymous with galacticos, essentially buying the most expensive star players from other teams. It's not premature to say that a second galactico squad is currently being assembled, despite the relative failure of the first.

Real Madrid's benefit to the fascist Franco regime is also well documented. Its unclear just how much Real Madrid benefited from Franco's assistance, but Franco's influence on DiStefano ending up in Madrid rather than Barcelona forever changed European football. And at times those fascist links aren't entirely in the past.

From the previously quoted Phil Ball piece, a quote to sum up this Real Madrid section: "Real Madrid do still think that they are in a privileged position in Spanish society, and that all the best players want to come to them, like the little children to Jesus Christ."


So which is more evil? Couldn't go wrong with either, in this writer's humble opinion. Is this entire piece a bitter reaction to Xabi Alonso leaving for the Bernabeu today? It's quite possible.

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