To be born a fan of the New York Yankees, the greatest team in sports, one has to be lucky. After all, how many other teams have 27 World Series championships? How many teams have a storied history with legends such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantle?
Only one. Just think, you could have been the unfortunate soul who roots for the hapless San Diego Padres. How many no-hitters have the Padres pitched? As many as you and I put together have. Or, even worse, you could have been a (gulp) New York Mets fan. However, just because the New York Yankees are a superior franchise doesn’t mean that the Yankees always have superior seasons.
This 2013 season has not been a superior season. It’s not bad, not bad at all. But it’s not great. The Yankees are multiple games above .500 for the season, yet are in fourth place in the AL East. For some teams, these numbers could be seen somewhat positively (Houston, Miami, Chi Sox).
While the three ballclubs would much rather reside at the peak of the mountain than in the dank cellar, it seems expected (for at least the Astros and Marlins) to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in May. Yankees fans, however, demand greatness. “Championship or bust” seems like every year’s motto. Most of the time, the Bombers bust, even though they consistently make the playoffs, and the season ends as a disappointment.
Unfortunately, approximately two-thirds through this season, it’s already starting to feel like a lost year. The team looks overwhelmed at times, and winning only half of the remaining games on the schedule would probably keep the Yankees out of the postseason. October baseball is beginning to seem like a stretch.
But, as former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano told the world twenty years ago at the ESPY awards, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” And while the inspirational coach’s battle with cancer was much more dire than any sports game, the adage still applies to everything.
The fans and the players know that hope is still alive for the Yankees, even if the future looks bleak. Because to be a baseball fan, “Ya Gotta Believe.” Nobody followed his advice more than Yogi Berra, the winner of thirteen total championships. Not every season, series, or game started spectacularly, but he never quit on his team.
That’s what our job is as fans: to hope, believe and inspire. And sometimes our wishes are not granted. But as a Yankees fan, we don’t pout or complain. We don’t blame our shortcomings on Billy goats or Bambinos because a gracious winner is not a sore loser, even if a team with a bandwagoning fan base wins the ultimate prize in baseball.
After all, the Yankees have arrived in the World Series seven times in the last twenty years, and the franchise will definitely return again. And while I know that I am exaggerating, romanticizing, and fantasizing about the allure of the Yankees a bit, you, fellow fan, know there is nothing wrong with having a little pride in a team as storied as the New York Yankees.