• With Yanks In First, Is The Nightmare About To End?

    Posted by on May 30th, 2009 · Comments (7)

    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.

    Comments on With Yanks In First, Is The Nightmare About To End?

    1. ken
      May 30th, 2009 | 11:00 am

      2004 remains an open mental wound for true Yankee fans and players who care. Watching the Sox bring up good young talent every year doesn’t make it easier. Taking over 1st place is nice but there is a long way to go.

      I recall when the Yanks won the first of their run in 1996 and Wade Boggs was on the team. He said after the game that the pain of losing in ’86 was finally gone (the year of the Bill Buckner game, for the uninitiated).

      The Yanks are still waiting to cleanse their soul.

    2. May 30th, 2009 | 11:48 am

      That’s why I can never forgive Joe Torre for 2004, from overworking the bullpen to not bunting on Schilling to not stealing on Wakefield in extra innings. And Joe was so blase about the Yanks losing, with his whole “they had to win sometime” attitude. Yeah, I suppose that’s true, but the Sox didn’t have to win with the greatest comeback of all time!

    3. Tresh Fan
      May 30th, 2009 | 12:17 pm

      And I believe the Yankees need to move on, lest they overburden themselves with an unhealthy obsession. As it is the Yankees are now 0-5 against the Red Sox and 28-15 (.651) against everybody else.

      Okay, they lost the 2004 ALCS. But that was 5 years ago AND THE BETTER TEAM WON. More importantly, those Red Sox don’t exist anymore. All that remains is a 37 year old catcher on whom baserunners are running rampant, an on-his-last-legs DH batting .189 with 1 HR in 169 ABs, and a soon-to-turn 43 year old pitcher. You want to take it out on them?

      Let’s move on, guys.

    4. Raf
      May 30th, 2009 | 1:40 pm

      I shrugged it off as the law of averages too. The series was in Rivera’s hands twice; games 4 & 5. Calls like Bellhorn’s HR & Rodriguez’s slap tag were called or overturned. That was the first time I remember umpires conferring and making a call. There was Clark’s ground rule double, slow as molasses baserunners on base when Wakefield was having his problems. Even game 6, I can understand not bunting on Schilling, not when they lit him up in the first game. Not to mention that other than Jeter, Lofton & Cairo, there really weren’t any proficient bunters on the team. Olerud getting hurt during the series didn’t help matters much either.

      Given the Yanks pwn3d the Sox so many times over the years, it was only a matter of time before the pendulum would swing in the other direction.

      I don’t think the Yanks are concerned about 2004, nor should they be. They certainly weren’t concerned about them during the Boston Massacre 2 (5 game sweep) back in 2006.

    5. May 30th, 2009 | 5:55 pm

      @ Tresh Fan:”Okay, they lost the 2004 ALCS. But that was 5 years ago AND THE BETTER TEAM WON. More importantly, those Red Sox don’t exist anymore. All that remains is a 37 year old catcher on whom baserunners are running rampant, an on-his-last-legs DH batting .189 with 1 HR in 169 ABs, and a soon-to-turn 43 year old pitcher. You want to take it out on them? ”

      I disagree. Using that logic,Yankee fans who weren’t alive to see most of the 26 championships (which means most of us) should not ever celebrate or commemorate those victories.

      And I also disagree that the Sox were the better team. If Torre weren’t too busy polishing his rings – and his reputation – and worrying about being classy, the Yanks would have won that series.

      2001 doesn’t bother me anymore, as the Yanks were lucky that Kim pitched Games 4 and 5; otherwise, the Yankees would have lost in 5. 2004 still bothers me, just like 1978 and 1986 still bothered Red Sox fans until they won it all.

    6. Raf
      May 30th, 2009 | 7:19 pm

      And I also disagree that the Sox were the better team.

      As do I. If they were the better team, they would’ve finished 1st in the AL East

    7. Y-fan
      May 30th, 2009 | 7:28 pm

      Actually, 1973 was a terrible year for the Yankees. The silver lining is that it marked the end of the Ralph Houk era. There certainly were teasers. Sports Illustrated was foolish enough to predict that the Yanks would win the AL East, and the team had acquired Matty Alou and Jim Ray Hart, albeit at the end of their careers, the team started poorly. The pitching was shabby (Peterson and Kekich had traded families before they would in turn be traded). Kekich was never good, but Peterson had a career-worst season. In late spring, the team acquired an over-the-hill Sam McDowell in desparation, as well as Pat Dobson. Dobson was also terrible, although he rebounded in the second half of ’74. The team did recover after its’ slow start to go 43-31 and had a 4.5 game lead with a 59-45 record in early August, before crashing and finishing 21-37 and a cumulative 80-82. A final note on 1973. After the season, the Yanks traded Lindy McDaniel for Lou Piniella. Supposedly, the Daily News wrote that Lou Piniella was acquired for Lindy McDaniel and a sermon to be named later.

      In 1974, the team had its best start in years (4-0 and 15-10) before sinking and finding itself in mid-summer at 54-57. Dobson started the year at 6-11, but as mentioned, had a great second half and finished 19-15. Doc Medich also won 19 games. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the season was the short emergence of Elliot Maddox, as well as some pitching help that materialized out of nowhere in the persons of Larry Gura ,Mike Wallace, and Rudy May. The Yankees, as well as the Orioles, had tremendous late drives to overtake the Red Sox and if the Yankees had been halfway decent against the Orioles, they would have won the division.

      1975 was a disappointing season. It was Catfish Hunter’s first year in NY and after starting 1-4, he finished 23-14. But it was his last good season, apart from some heroic pitching in 1978 when he was basically back from the dead. Some late-spring injuries weakened the team, it collapsed and ushered in the Billy Martin era.

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