Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Underdog Yankees Finally Deserve Fans’ Support

I have no patience for the New York Yankees. Even if I’m not holding it against them that they participate in a sport that still fraudulently markets itself as “America’s pastime,” there is still so much to dislike.

To begin with, as every Map-taking SFS student knows, their $195 million payroll is more than the GDP of several of the world’s poorest countries. You have to scroll through the arshall Islands, Kiribati and the Falkland Islands before you come to the Kingdom of Tonga, which, with a GDP of $223 million, is the first country that could fully cover New York’s payroll. They’d even have a scant $28 million left in case Roger Clemens decides to come back next season.

Yankees fans will explain to you that their financial situation is actually a point of pride, since it has led to the creation of an organizational culture which views anything other than a World Series victory as inadequate. But I have a hard time seeing the positives in a system that pushes its fans to turn on Joe Torre and Alex Rodriguez. Because of the organization’s demands for perpetual success, they are forced to live with knee-jerk reactionaries constantly questioning their worth. It’s likely that New York fans will not appreciate them until they’re gone – which will probably be next season.

Considering the way that I feel about the Yankees, it seems logical to conclude that I had a particularly enjoyable summer as the Bronx Bombers fizzled and fell 14.5 games out of first place.

But that’s where my relationship with the Pinstripes got a little complicated. As the early season embarrassments and losses mounted, it seemed that every news outlet rushed to report that the demise of the Yankees was finally at hand. This was it: the season for which everyone outside of the New York metropolitan area had been waiting. Not only would there be no division championship or wildcard, there wouldn’t even be any hope. With the way New York was losing games, it figured that they would be well out of the pennant race by the all-star break.

It must have been sometime during that disastrous month of June when, for the first time since I was seven years old, I started actively rooting for the Yankees to win. It’s not as if I began watching their games regularly or planning my schedule around Derek Jeter’s dinner dates, but I very surreptitiously began keeping one eye on the box score. I was intrigued. It was almost as if a sports hypothesis was being tested before my eyes: the number of Yankee losses was inversely proportional to the number of bandwagon fans, and when it appeared that ranks of their ship could sink no lower, it was time for me to ask for permission to come aboard.

Ironically, the Yankees vindicated themselves because the baseball gods decided to cast them in the one role they never deserved to play: underdogs. With such a limitless payroll and celebrated history, the Yankees seemed forever typecast as insipid frontrunners. And with all that money, all those expectations and all that chatter about nothing less than a World Series victory being acceptable, the Yankees just weren’t very fun to be around. But much like a broken down Charlie Sheen or Winona Ryder rising from the ashes, New York was only able to regain its appeal after hitting rock bottom.

Something tells me that George Steinbrenner might beg to differ, but the truth is that for the rest of this season the Yankees are playing with house money. Not only have they turned things around and secured a firm grasp on the wildcard, but they are also suddenly more likeable than they have been since 1996. When the Yankees came from nowhere that season, it was a special moment that captured New York’s attention after years and years of frustration. 1998 was amazing, too, because by then the Yankees had assembled one of the most perfect teams in baseball history, winning 114 games and outscoring their opponents by 309 runs. Yet in each successive season, it really seemed like the Yankees’ World Series victories were akin to a spoiled, rich kid throwing a birthday party for himself and still expecting everyone to be truly happy for him.

For the first time in years, it’s no longer embarrassing when the Yankees win. Considering that the Red Sox have become something of a spoiled, rich brat in their own right, it’s exciting to hope that New York crashes their party.

So am I a true Yankees fan? When they were struggling during the dog days of summer, I never suffered a second or lost even a wink of sleep. If it so happens that come October Mariano finds himself again closing out a World Series win, there’s little chance that I will be watching.

But always one to appreciate sports’ savory ironies, I don’t want to blink and miss the finish to this summer’s most captivating fairy tale. It seems that Cinderella’s proverbial glass cleat fits the New York Yankees. And if their evil stepmother finds within herself the patience to let them keep swinging until midnight, then they could once again be in for a season to remember.

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