[Slams forehead into desk at office, arousing the suspicion of my coworkers from behind my cubicle walls]
[Takes long drag of a cigarette not caring that I don’t smoke, that I’m violating company policy, that I’m still drunk from the night before and have lit the filter end like an 17 year old coed with a bitchin’ ID]
I’m well aware that many of you are happy about what transpired. Most of you play it close to the vest, but I’ve heard the rumors that not everybody is a fan of my New York Yankees. Fine. Whatever. I’m very proud of you. But today we’re going to talk about my pain. Because I’m in a funny place. I can feel that intoxicating venom coursing through my veins for the first time in years. That entitled sense that the game owes me something. I can feel my Yankee fandom mutating once again into it’s ugliest manifestation. And about that I say it’s motherfucking about time.
The pat few years have been strange. Much of the late aughts felt like throwing rope, trying to keep something alive well past it’s expiration date. The dynasty was dead, but we still trotted out enough aging stars to keep the party going, only kept getting bounced by the Angels in the ALDS. Another championship came in 2009, but it didn’t portend another incarnation of the Yankee dynasty, but served as an island in a vast ocean of not titles. It was as if we were the fucking Royals, winning one and then disappearing before we’d overstayed our welcome. I don’t recommend it, and give single titles two out of five stars.
After that came the long, slow decline. From losses in the ALCS, to the ghastly stretch of no playoff appearances, eventually reaching the nadir, an 84 win season where it truly felt as though we would be lost in the wilderness for years. Like alcoholics, the first step was admitting that we had a problem (This would be the only real step taken. It was a more effective ‘one step’ program) and understanding that we couldn’t just buy our way out of this. We became obsessed with things like “staying under the luxury threshold” so that the Steinbrenners could have their penalty reduced from 50% on every dollar spent over the threshold to 20%. We fixated on that number as if it was our money, and not belonging to a family of billionaires. We accepted our fate, and for a few years, went into the season wondering if it would be the year we truly hit rock bottom for a draft pick.
For a while there, we were legitimately excited sellers at the trade deadline. And the trades were good. The team didn’t suffer any in terms of winning percentage (They were .520 when they traded Chapman, and finished the year at .519), and for the first time it seemed as though they were actually building something. Last year was supposed to be the baby step season, and they made it to Game 7 of the ALCS, where they lost to the eventual champion Houston Astros. The off season gave us Giancarlo Stanton for essentially nothing. Our wait was over. The death star had been completed. We were done being patient. I even bought tickets to a game in Fenway, just to watch my team stomp Boston in their own barn.
What followed was the single most disappointing 100 win season in baseball history. The single greatest achievement was in watching Boston fail to catch the 1998 Yankees 114 wins, thus eliminating them from “Greatest Team of All Time” status. It was a 100 win season where the team played out the string for the final six weeks. Players got hurt. Sonny Gray was dogshit. A triple A caliber reliever ended up starting games for something like two months. They were the third best team in baseball by record, and yet they were still condemned to play that stupid Wildcard abomination. If you’d told me in the earliest days of spring training in 2016 that in two years this team would break the single season record for home runs, would win the next two Rookie of the Year awards, and then add two more dynamic rookies, and then on top of all that find somebody like our all around Man Baby Luke Voit, and would make it to the ALDS, I would have taken the deal in a second. It was a good season. 100 win seasons are good. And yet… The 2017 Yankees won 91 games and I loved them like a son. The 2018 Yankees won 100 games and I regard them like a son who got a little too into vaping and insists that Hillary would have been worse.
Ultimately, this is a good thing, and we’ve entered that familiar space that we’d momentarily vacated while slumming it with the Mariners and Reds. We are back in the perpetual realm of great expectations and righteous indignation. Today, the morning after suffering a loss to our most detested rivals, I stand here beating my bare chest that Aaron Boone should be fired and possibly sued. For two consecutive nights he acted as if he might be fined for using his bullpen. Aaron Boone is a man who in a crisis will come across a “Break Glass In Case Of Emergency” case and think to himself “What am I, made of glass?” Two nights in a row he managed the team as if they were meaningless June dates. He sent Lance Lynn out in the highest of leverage spots (Bases loaded, no outs, down three, with the heart of their order coming to the plate), and let CC pitch after everybody in the Tri State area could have told him that he was doomed to failure. I can’t blame CC. CC is as old as the hills. Frankly, I’m impressed he’s as productive as he is at this point. Boone apparently felt confident enough to take a nap through the third inning, watched him surrender 3 runs, and became the difference between moving on and packing up for the winter.
Good job, good effort, Boone.
But that is in the past. Now we look forward, and in between shit posting our goober manager, I am left to fantasize about what is to come. We’re close. Dangerously close. The team is freed from their self imposed luxury tax restraints and I say sign all the free agents. Even the overrated ones. Give me a roster of $700MM. I don’t want a championship contender. I want an affront to God. Sign Patrick Corbin. Trade for Madison Bumgarner. Hire an investigator to dig up dirt on Jacoby Ellsbury the way George hunted down Winfield. Be more belligerent. What’s this about Yusei Kikuchi? Who is he? Fuck it, I don’t care. Just make it happen Cashman. Make. It. Happen.
My Id has become sentient and now runs unrestrained by logic and decency. I would attend rallies, frothing at the mouth about the rigged oppression of Aaron Judge’s criminally low strike zone. I would believe any sign stealing gossip out of Fenway Park, and simply wish to be stimulated until Pitchers and Catchers report in February. I’ll get banned from fan message boards and instigate pissing matches with the other ‘fans’ and question their manhood, and then get very internet mad when somebody implies that I must be new to the game. The results of the World Series are immaterial. Give me my red meat. I will watch the rest of the playoffs with simmering resentment, thirsty for the newest free agency rumors. Our day is coming. Get it out of your system today. Because I can’t wait to hear about how much you’ll hate baseball in 2019.
God, I love being the bad guy again.