First off, I just want to say that I am honored to become a contributer here at WasWatching. When Steve asked me to join his site, I immediately jumped on board. The idea of sharing my thoughts with hundreds, maybe thousands of Yankee fans is more than enticing. At the least, it allows me to offer my views on the Yankees from a slightly different perspective.
I’m a freshman at Boston College, but I grew up in New York. For eighteen years, I only interacted with Yankee fans, Met fans, and the occasional Red Sox fan (it’s the sad state of things, but even the suburbs of New York cannot avoid the occasional New England straggler). So when I arrived at college, I was surprised to find fans of other teams. Yes, there are actually Braves fans. Giants fans do exist. Brewers fans are not a myth. In fact, a good number of people I have met are from the Minnesota area and root for the Twins. For the first time in my life, I interact with people who are fans of different teams. And it’s eye-opening.
Since so many people I knew in high school were Yankee fans, it was easy to criticize the team in an open setting. From 2005-2007, I would chastize the Yankees’ inability to get out of the first round of the playoffs. The 2008 season felt like a massive failure. I criticized the front office, Joe Girardi, the bullpen, the starting pitching, the offense, the defense, and the chemistry of the team. I yelled at my television set when the team lost a game (for the record, I don’t consider myself a yeller, and I have never actually yelled at a television set. But I yelled in spirit). And between me and my friends, this was fine, because we were all fellow Yankee fans longing for number 27. Complaining about the Yankees was acceptable. Nearly a decade of futility was unacceptable.
And then I arrived at college. And when the Yankees lost a few games last September, I would sometimes make a remark about the team. I’m really worried about the fourth starter in the postseason*, I would say over a pulled pork sandwich at lunch. And soon I got the notion that people thought I was spoiled.
*As it turned out, we** didn’t need a fourth starter. We became the first World Series winning team since the ’91 Twins to use three starters throughout the entirety of the playoffs.
**Another side note- I’m not a fan of people referring to their team in the possessive form. As much as I’d love to be the crafty middle reliever on the Yankees, I am not part of the team. We didn’t the World Series. The Yankees did.
Speaking of the Twins, those Twins fans I mentioned would really go into me. The Twins haven’t won a championship since 1991. Our GM was forced to trade Johan Santana because we couldn’t afford to keep him. The Yankees’ problems were nothing compared to the problems facing the Twins and the other 28 MLB franchises.
And then came the obvious assertions from non-Yankees fans. You guys can spend millions more than anyone else, so you’re supposed to win. You take winning for granted. You wouldn’t be a fan of the Yankees if they didn’t win every year. It was hard going to dinner after hearing that.
What I’ve learned is this: as Yankee fans, we have been able to experience more than a lot of people do in a lifetime. We think nine years is a long World Series drought, and perhaps it is in Yankee years. But there are people out there who have never seen their team win a World Series. Or win a pennant. Or reach the Championship Series. For the majority of baseball fans, a playoff berth is something to cherish.
More than anything, I have realized that as a Yankee fan, I do take things for granted. We all take things for granted when it comes to the Yankees. We think a playoff berth isn’t good enough. We accept nothing less than a World Series championship. And ultimately, that’s great. That’s why the Yankees are the best franchise in sports, and it’s a reason why I am proud to be a Yankee fan. But sometimes we have to accept that the Yankees won’t win every year. And that doesn’t mean that the season was a failure. Sometimes we just have to enjoy the ride and accept where that ride leaves us off.
Only ten days until pitchers and catchers.