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“Spanking the Yankees” book review: 280 pages of schadenfreude

Start spreading the boos...

Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees
Dislike of a team has never felt so organized.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

For a long time, the New York Yankees have been the villains of Major League Baseball. As fans of the Minnesota Twins, we are among the many who have a particular... “aversion,” say, to all things pinstriped.

If we need any more reasons to pile on the Yankees, Gabriel Schechter has it covered.

The title and subtitle of Schechter’s upcoming book, Spanking the Yankees: 366 Days of Bronx Bummers, make it clear that the next 280 pages will be filled with schadenfreude, and the book does exactly that.

Schechter makes it clear in the introduction that his hatred of the Yankees is not of the players, but “the whole damn franchise”; indeed, this book is his second foray into publication in the “Yankees suck” genre. In 2008, Schechter published a desk calendar called This BAD Day in Yankees History, and Spanking the Yankees both expands on that and adds new material.

The book is divided into four sections. Part I, The Regular Season, is the most similar to a calendar format. Going month by month and day by day, Schechter relays anecdotes of Yankee misery in small one-paragraph blurbs, mostly discussing the team’s worst losses.

Part II, The Playoffs, is even more detailed, as Schecter talks about every Yankees playoff loss in every postseason series that eliminated them (and names a goat for each series). This moves fairly quickly in the years where the only playoffs were the World Series, but when additional rounds pop up, it’s almost year after year after year. Nice for seeing the Yankees suffer, painful for seeing the Yankees constantly in the playoffs.

The longest and most subdivided of the sections is Part III, The Off-Season, split into seven subsections. While the first two sections, trades and free agency, are split themselves (players who arrived, who left, or who said “no to joining the team,” later sections devote significant space to certain Yankee figures. Curious as to why the Yankees hired and fired Billy Martin five times? Want to know why Schechter selects a Yankee owner not named George Steinbrenner as “the most heartless and despicable owner”? Hungry for the details of when a Yankee outfielder took on an ostrich in a spaghetti-eating contest? This is the section you’ll be devouring

Part IV serves as an index, divided three different ways and including about as many reminders of Yankee nastiness in the book as one might think of.

As a Twins fan, there’s one downside to the book: the Yankees still keep beating the Twins. The word “Twins” appears 16 times in the book. The first seven take up four regular-season anecdotes; the final three are mentioned in the offseason, twice incidentally, once in the context of a vetoed Rod Carew trade. But the middle six show up in quick succession in the “playoffs” section, each time describing how the Yankees swept the Twins to make it to a series they eventually lost. It’s hard to enjoy that section when constantly reminded that the Yankees, though losing, still beat up on Minnesota. But that’s not Schechter’s fault.

Overall, if you’re a Twins fan looking for more reasons to dislike the Yankees, especially during a baseball-less early summer, this book is what you’re looking for.

“Spanking the Yankees” will be released on July 20. Thanks to Fawn Neun of Summer Game Books for sending me a review copy.