My team is in the second round of the American League Championship Series. My team pretty regularly ends up at this point in the playoffs, year after year.
My team is the New York Yankees: The team everyone loves to hate.
The Dallas Cowboys have always placed themselves on the mantle as America’s team, but whether you like it or not America’s team is the New York Yankees. That’s the global perspective. You can find yourself on the bullet train in Japan. You can stand on the Great Wall of China. You can take a tour of Parliament in London and one thing is for sure. Sooner or later, someone is going to walk by wearing a Yankee baseball cap.
The rest of the world knows what Yankee fans know, what the fans of every other team in the U.S. refuse to see. The Yankees are the symbol of American sports. The Yankees expect to get into the playoffs every year. Think about it. Think about what you saw on Sportscenter a couple of weeks ago as baseball teams clinched playoff spots: Players rushed the field … jumped on each other … hugs … jubilation.
Every team did that except for the Yankees. They clinched another playoff spot and the reaction was like it was just another game. Orderly high fives as the players walked off the field. No piling on. Just head to the locker room, celebrate a little and get ready for the next game.
The Yankees swept the Minnesota Twins in the first round.
They’re at one game apiece with the Texas Rangers, having won the first game 6-5 after trailing 5-0 in the fifth inning at Texas, and losing the second game by an ugly score of 7-2. The series now moves to The Bronx,
I don’t know if they’re going to win it all. I just know, if they do, it will be normal. If they don’t, they’re contenders next year. They’ve got 27 World Series titles. Why worry?
Anyway, I’ve already been through their worst days.
When I was a kid, I started out as a Mets fan. But going to see the Mets was too much of a hassle. The trip from Brooklyn to Shea Stadium, way out in Queens, involved transferring to too many subway trains. Mets tickets were too expensive, and the cheapest ticket put you in the top tier in right field.
Finance drove my early interest in the Yankees. I could take the No. 4 train to the stadium in The Bronx. A ticket for a bleachers seat was a buck. And a bleacher seat put you right in the outfield, close enough to yell at the centerfielder: Bobby Murcer, who was out there when I was old enough to go to games by myself.
The Yankees sucked when I started rooting for them. They were owned by CBS, a major corporation that knew broadcasting but didn’t know how to run a sports franchise. Our biggest players were Murcer and second baseman Horace Clarke. That period, 1967 to 1973, the time of Yankee futility was known as the Horace Clarke era. And I had a front row seat to it. Then, in 1974, a guy named Steinbrenner came along, turned the place into a soap opera and built a champion.
I have two vivid Yankee memories.
I attended my first Yankee game with my family before the Horace Clarke era. I don’t remember the year, but it was a daytime double header against the California Angels. The Yankees were behind, bottom of the ninth, two out, Mickey Mantle at bat. Mantle smashed a game winning home run, and the place went nuts. The cheering continued through the break between the games and didn’t stop until the second game started.
The second was during the Horace Clarke era. The Yankees against Cleveland, and the stadium was practically empty. The Indians were ahead late in the game. I was in the second row of the bleachers behind a couple of drunken Puerto Ricans, who were riding Bobby Murcer to no end. “Murcer you suck! Your team sucks!” … on and on, inning after inning. Finally, after an especially vulgar tirade by the fans, Murcer went up to bat, hit a home run to center field and put the Yankees ahead. The drunks shut up. Cleveland didn’t make a comeback. The Yankees got a W.
I left New York for school in 1969, and only got to Yankee games for summer break. I’ve lived in a number of states and countries over the years, so only get to a Yankee game maybe once every two years or so. I’ve been to one World Series game. The first game of the 2000 subway series between the Yankees and the Mets. Guess who won? Final score 4-3. Yankees take the series in five games.
Wherever I reside, I root for the local teams as they get in the playoffs, but when it comes to baseball, if it’s between the locals and the Yankees: The Yankees win! THUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHH YANKEES WIN!