Earlier today, I mentioned that my Yankees world changed forever back in 2004. Here’s the story behind that.
I became a Yankees fan back in 1973. And, it was a great time, in the mid-to-late ’70s, to be a Yankees fan. New York was a decent team in 1974 and 1975 – even if they had to play in Shea Stadium. And, we all know how much fun the Yankees were in 1976, 1977 and 1978. If you don’t, just google “Yankees Martin Steinbrenner Munson Reggie Bronx Zoo” and see what you get as a result.
The 1980′s were an interesting time to be a Yankees fan as well. The team won a lot of games – but really didn’t do anything in October. Yet, those 1980′s Yankees had great players like Dave Winfield, Dave Righetti, Don Mattingly, Ron Guidry, Rickey Henderson, Goose Gossage and Willie Randolph – as well as some colorful/likeable players like Mike Pagliarulo, Tommy John, Rick Cerone, Bob Shirley, Ken Griffey Sr., Ron Davis, Graig Nettles, Phil Niekro, Bobby Meacham and Joe Cowley. Heck, I even had fun rooting for players like Jerry Mumphrey, Lee Guetterman, Claudell Washington, Mike Armstrong, Steve Sax, Dave LaRoche, Dan Pasqua, Charles Hudson, Don Slaught, Rich Bordi and Omar Moreno back in the ’80′s.
Of course, from 1989 through 1991 was one of the worst times ever to be a Yankees fan. But, that was a brief period and when the 1990′s got started, things began to turnaround for the Yankees. And, by 1993, you could see some good things were about to happen in Yankeeland.
To be a Yankees fan, from the mid-1990′s through the close of that decade, was a very, very, special time. Four rings in five years – ’nuff said?
When the 21st century came out of the chute, immediately, it was a mixed bag experience for me, as a Yankees fan. Sure, they lost the 2001 World Series – but, who could ever forget Games 4 and 5 that year in the Bronx. And, I always like to say that the Yankees won the 2001 World Series, three games to four (much like Carlton Fisk likes to claim that the Boston Red Sox won the 1975 World Series, three games to four). And, sure, the Yankees lost the 2003 World Series – one they should have won – but, who could ever forget that Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox. For a Yankees fan, that game was pure magic and it helped offset the World Series that followed.
But, then came 2004. And, we all know what happened in the ALCS that season – where the Yankees let the Red Sox rise from the dead and break the Curse of the Bambino. “Nightmare” is not a strong enough word to describe how it felt to be a Yankees fan at that moment. And, for this Yankees fan, the experience of following the franchise has been all downhill since that time.
Since the 2004 ACLS, the Yankees have gone from being a team that would finish first and play deep into October…into a team that would finish first and get bounced in the ALDS…into a team that would not finish first, win the wildcard, and get bounced in the ALDS…into a team that would not make the playoffs at all…into a team that would finish in third place (last season).
In fact, when the Yankees gained sole possession of first place last night, it became the first time in the last 972 days that the New York Yankees have owned first place in the A.L. East. That’s a very, very, long time – in Yankeeland.
Let’s hope this is the sign of good times to come for the Yankees…and where the tide that turned in 2004 begins to shift again…this time, in favor of the Yankees and their fans. Personally, I would love to see what started at the end of 2004 come to an end. And, the sooner, the better.