Thursday, September 18, 2008

What's a Yankees Fan to Do?

With 10 games to go in the 2008 Major League Baseball season, the Yankees "tragic number" currently stands at 3. That is, any combination of three Boston wins and New York losses will result in the Yankees missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993, not including the cancelled post-season of 1994. This leaves fans of this disappointing edition of the storied Bronx Bombers in some very unfamiliar territory. So, facing a late September of virtually meaningless baseball followed by a huge October void, what are Yankees fans to do with themselves?

First, let me say that this doesn't apply to me as much as I suspect it does to many others. I love the season's stretch run and October baseball, whether my team's in it or not. Don't get me wrong, it's more exciting when they are involved, but more stressful as well. So, I offer these suggestions as my short list of what Yankees fans still have to root for this year.
  1. Mike Mussina's quest for the first 20-win season of his career. As I write this, he looks to be in position for win #18 tonight, as the Yankees lead the White Sox 9-1 in the top of the 6th. I have to believe that, if he wins tonight, the Yanks will skip over Phil Hughes' next turn in the rotation, and let Moose pitch on the 23rd and then on the 28th, the season's final day. Mussina's comeback season has greatly improved his Hall of Fame credentials, and if he truly has reinvented himself a la Greg Maddux, he might not even need that 20-win season to secure his place in Cooperstown.

  2. The emergence of young pitchers Alfredo Aceves and Phil Coke, both of whom have been nothing short of impressive since their recent callups. Aceves, who joined the team on August 28, has a 1.80 ERA, and has allowed 15 hits and just 3 walks, while striking out 12, in 20 innings, including earning the win in his first major league start. Coke, a September 1 callup, has pitched 10 innings in 7 relief appearances, and has been virtually untouchable, allowing no runs on just 3 hits and a walk, while striking out 6.

  3. Most importantly, Yankees fans can pray that their team is not eliminated from playoff contention in the final game played at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night. With three Red Sox games and three Yankees games, including tonight's, between now and then, a combination of two Boston wins and New York losses could put them in the unfortunate position of needing to win that night to prevent the worst from happening. Being eliminated before that game would even be preferable to that scenario.

  4. Finally, of course, there's rooting against the Red Sox. While this sounds simple, I'm not talking about just rooting for a first round playoff exit. As difficult as this sounds, I challenge Yankees fans to actually pull for the Red Sox to reach the World Series, only to lose to Joe Torre's Dodgers, powered by Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra. If not the Dodgers, the Sox could fall to the Mets in some kind of approximation of the 1986 World Series, or make history by being the team to fall to the Cubs in their first Series victory in 100 years.
So, don't worry fellow Yankees fans. There still is plenty to be excited about this fall. You just have to exercise a little creativity. That, of course, and promise yourself that next year will mark a return to glory, or at least be a little less frustrating than this season has been.


  1. Ah you wear it well. Tis a great season to find out who are the true Yankee fans. Chas - there is no doubting your allegiances - Bravo!

    Working in a high school building with over 1500 adolescents it is interesting how the Yankee garb has dropped off significantly.

    Ante-2004 there was no need to doubt the fans of the Sox. Now I am unsure who are Sox fans and who enjoy the opportunity to gloat because their latest team is winning.

    Please bring all your Yankee hate - it can only make for good karma.

    Thanks for the lead with Seamheads - I will be contacting them.

    Please continue writing about baseball.

  2. I would describe it less as hate than as simply wanting to see order restored in the baseball world.

    The Red Sox winning multiple World Series? That can only mean the end is near. I think W.P. Kinsella wrote something about that...or maybe that was the Cubs.

  3. OK Simone (or whatever the %$#* your name is)-- you've officially lost your mind.
    I wouldn't take your foolhardy "challenge" for all the tea in Boston. These pricks have already won twice in our cursed lifetimes, and you're daring to allow a third? You're playing with fire, man!
    I'm brainstorming various bizarre rituals to be performed by yours truly at Sunday night's grand finale. Burning some sort of Yankee artifact in the upper deck? No, someone already did that. Running out onto the field during Ronan Tynan's inevitable "GBA" to challenge one of the several hundred uniformed servicemen to a wrestling match? Too dangerous.
    I will say this... ESPN can go to fucking hell for moving the game past my bedtime. I could've gotten trashed at a 1pm start and had plenty of time to sober up before work Monday morning-- now it's choirboy city for me. DAMMIT!

  4. You're getting quite curmudgeonly in your middle years Mazz. I doubt if I could actually root for the Red Sox in the AL playoffs myself. Just thought it could make for some interesting drama.