My friend Andy Wasif co-wrote a hilarious book – How To Talk To A Yankee Fan. I sat down with Andy to talk about the book, the playoffs, the Cardinals, and his beloved and beleaguered Red Sox.
- Can you discuss the inspiration for the book?
Let me draw you a picture. 86 years of torment and then we were down 3-0 during the 2004 ALCS. Yankee fans were intolerable! At the same time, we were only weeks away from the 2004 election and Republicans were similar to Yankee fans. They were spewing garbage bereft of facts all over the place, led by that guy who says all that offensive stuff – what is his name? — oh, yeah… Ann Coulter. Before Game 4, I walked into Barnes & Noble to clear my head and came face-to-face with a display featuring Michael Moore’s book on the left and Coulter’s “How to Talk to a Liberal” on the right. I picked her book up and started flipping through it. I thought, “This is inane, this is ****, this is…. hmm, on the bestseller list.” So to make a short story long, we pulled to 3-2 and things were looking good for us, I told my future co-author Rick if the Sox win the series, we’d be able to do our own “How to Talk to…” book. And we did.
- How did the co-writing process work? Did you each write different chapters or did you collaborate on every chapter?
Together we came up with the chapters that we felt would be funny, and then we just picked them like captains would pick a kickball team. I felt the fictionalized non-fiction of Chapter 3’s Unauthorized Steinbrenner bio was more my style and Ricky was more in tune with the zany narrative that is Chapter 8’s story of how the “Yankees ****” chant came to be. We’d each write our chapters, then give it to the other for notes. By the end, our tone and style was the same. There were times when I requested that some things be taken out because I didn’t like them and he would say, “Dude, that’s your line. YOU wrote that.” Except for when I argued to remove MY stuff, we had very few disputes.
- How did you get Bill Lee to write the forward?
Bill spends his time “being Bill Lee.” He’s all about staying in the public consciousness, and people still love him. We consider him the Red Sox version of Yogi Berra, but he’s much more erudite and well-rounded. He’s smart and has even performed stand-up comedy. He was at the Boston Comedy Fest in 2005 and, since Rick and I are both comedians, we’re familiar with all the comics there. Our friend Paul (who drew many of the great pictures on our website — www.howtotalktoayankeefan.com) told us that Bill performed, and Rick called the organizer of the event, Jim McCue. Jim contacted Bill and set up a call for us. When Rick called, Bill said, “So gimme the basic gist of the thing.” Rick said it’s a book called How to Talk to a Yankee Fan, and Bill replied, “You wrote a one-page book?” We knew he was on board then (as he is the #1 Yankee Hater in the world, without question). We sent Bill a draft, and he loved it. He said, “You guys think like I do.” That’s a compliment, I think.
- What are your playoff predictions, especially for the Yankees?
The Yankees don’t have the pitching to win and the team they have isn’t as strong and cohesive in the playoffs as they were when they were winning. I thought Minnesota would give them the best run for their money, but Santana lost today, so who knows? I can’t tell you who is going to win, but we will be surprised, I can tell you that. If the Mets win, prepare to see Yankee fans celebrate and say, “Oh, no, I’ve been a Mets fan since their inception,” (even if they are under 40 years old) “ so I deserve to celebrate.” Remember, they’ve spent over $1 billion over the past six years to LOSE, so even if they do win, how much pride can you take in buying it?
- Any special tips for Tigers fans who may be traveling to "The Stadium" for the division series? Are there special playoff conditions to keep in mind for navigating this mindfield (i.e, I imagine there will be more "gekkos" (Wasif’s term for corporate big wig fair weather Yankee fans) than usual at a playoff game since they’re the only ones who can afford tickets)?
Oh, no, there will be all kinds in the Bronx. It’s all about proper attire when taking in a game at Yankee Stadium. First of all, regardless of the forecast, a rain slicker is mandatory to shield yourself from beer-throwers and spitters (a batting helmet, cup, and goalie’s blocker pad should not be forgotten as well). You’ll need ear plugs to block out their constant taunting in annoying New Yawwwwwk accent along with dark sunglasses to cut the glare off of pasty natives dancing to “Cotton Eye Joe.” And finally, I’d recommend stealing Jorge Posada’s shin pads. You’ll need them more than he will to protect your legs from derelict children who are told, “Kick him!” by their derelict Yankee fan parents.
- Can you describe some sample communication tips for use with Yankee fans during the playoffs, perhaps in a scenario where they lose in the first round, or one where they win it all?
I’ll work backwards – if they win it all, you must do one of two things: a) move away or b) rip an arm off of a Yankee fan and beat him to death with it. Now, when the Yankees lose (notice I said "WHEN”), you can have some fun with it. My favorite move is to act like I forgot the game was on and ask them what happened (of course, that was used on me when the Yankees swept the recent 5-game series against the Sox). Be warned, however, that Yankee fans will feign indifference upon losing. They’ll talk about how the NY (football) Giants (or whichever team they’re rooting for that week) are showing a lot of promise and are gonna make a splash come playoff time. Or they’ll just revert back to their favorite phrase, “Come back and talk to me when you have 26 championships.” (As if their trophy case at home is filled with the hardware. For all the credit they claim, do you think they take any blame for losing 13 championships?)
- Have any Yankee fans read the book? If so, how did they react?
The eight that can read are actually very favorable towards it, but talking to other non-Yankee fans has given me an idea of why. The book is pretty accurate, though, of course, hyperbole is used in our style. However, Yankee fans have it in their heads that all fans are jealous of them and obsessed with them. To them, this book validates that warped opinion. (I was on a popular Sox fan blog earlier this summer and Yankee fans were posting on it how obsessed Sox fans were with Yankee fans and how pathetic they were. I’ll repeat myself, “I was on a popular SOX FAN BLOG.” Uhh… yes, WE’RE the obsessed ones.)
- In looking at the MLB blogs roster, I notice there are 27 Yankee blogs, more than for any other team (next highest totals are 17 Cardinal blogs, 19 Mets blogs, 18 Red Sox blogs). Why do you think there are so many Yankee bloggers? And do you think the high number of Cardinal blogs indicates potential for a sequel: How to Talk to a Cardinal Fan?
First off, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and Cardinal fans by thinking they can be analogous to Yankee fans. (Also, is it Cardinal fans or CardinalS fans? Discuss.) Most likely there are more Yankee blogs because there are more Yankee fans. Two-thirds of New York City alone is Yankee fans. It doesn’t necessarily depict the caliber of their fandom. In fact, in a poll taken within the last couple of years, I believe Cardinal fans were deemed the best followed by Boston (both were recognized as the most knowledgeable, but Boston fans’ use of colorful language took a few points off their score). No one hates Cardinal fans so a sequel highlighting fans of the Redbirds wouldn’t be as lucrative as ours that regards fans that everyone hates.
- Are you hearing from fans who have put the communication strategies learned in the book into practice?
Most fans know what we have known all along – you can’t really talk to Yankee fans. Our book gives you ways to counter any smack they talk, but the idea is only to communicate with them when the situation forces you to. A few people have used some of the lines, but most of the time people come up to us and say how they encountered a Yankee fan and found that our book was spot-on about them. And I credit that to the fact that we asked the masses for their experiences. The masses don’t lie.
- Any reflections on the Red Sox season and hopes for next year?
Without sounding like too much of a homer here, I have never in my short (though longer than I would like to admit) life seen a season destroyed by injuries in such catastrophic fashion. There were flaws on the team that weren’t exposed until the second half, but after the trading deadline, 6 regulars went down with serious injuries and 3 starting pitchers were gone for a large part of the season. And to protect Jon Lester, forcing the Marlins to take Anibel Sanchez instead, only to have Sanchez throw a no-no and Lester be diagnosed with lymphoma is just the icing on the cake (we wish Jon a complete recovery.) That said, GM Theo Epstein said the only move he regrets was trading away (current Padre star) reliever Cle Meredith for fan favorite Doug Mirabelli (the guy he had just traded away). Other than that, Yankee fans will try to get you to believe Theo is the reason for all the failures. But Yankee fans being as uninformed as they are forget that he was in a gorilla suit for much of the offseason. Hence, with more stability in the front office, I am confident that the proper moves will be made to contend again.
Here’s to a rematch of the 2004 World Series. Until then, best of luck in the playoffs, Cardinal Fans!