The Yankees dream season ended last night in game seven of the ALCS. Now we are left to appreciate what they have started, and dream on when they might finish.
Some Yankees fans know where Yorkville is. It is a snug and revered corner of NYC, taking up a chunk of the Upper East Side. It has retained much of its unique feel as no subway cuts through this bustling and friendly New York neighborhood; the closest one comes is Lexington.
That’s a long way from First and Second avenues. Residents there take a lot of pride in that, and view the upcoming subway line with a mixture of anticipation for what is coming, and fear for what will change.
What makes it hallowed ground, though, is it is the boyhood home of the immortal Lou Gehrig. That’s the reason we moved there some years ago.
Theeeeee Yankees Win
We found more than just a memorial, though; we found one of the most magical corners in Yankees Universe. When the team gets deep into the playoffs (ALCS and World Series), the entire neighborhood becomes as much a Yankees epicenter as any seat in the right field bleachers, or bar stool at Billy’s.
The neighborhood restaurants still have their sidewalk seating, and every bar still opens wide their wall-sized windows. And from inside every bar and restaurant, the deep, dulcet tones of John Sterling embrace you like an old friend sharing your favorite memories, just as they’re created.
You can walk from The Two Door Cafe to Gino’s Pizza and never miss one sweet, Sterling syllable, or Judgian blast. I know there are other New York neighborhoods like Yorkville, but it’s the one I know, and love.
So many great Yankees fans live there. I thought of them during these playoffs; my dog and I have gotten lost somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. I know how much they have enjoyed this ride, and how truly sad they are today, like most people in Yankees Universe.
Reflections of the Way Life Used to Be
But I know that at some point they will reflect on what a great young nucleus is now in place, and how unexpected this postseason was.
They’ll remember that of all the best AL teams, the Yankees are the ones who will improve the most in the off-season. The team has more money to spend than any of the others at the top, as well as having more and better minor leaguers coming.
Eventually they’ll remember that this was a win-soon team, that won now. And that the team Cashman will put together next year will include at least one additional front line starter, the best minor league player in baseball, and a free agent power hitter worth his contract.
This was a fun team; that should be a super team.
But that is for another day. Today is for saying goodbye and thank you to the 2017 New York Yankees, while peeking at next year with optimism.
And it is a day to say congratulations to the Houston Astros. Jose Altuve was the best player for four games, Aaron Judge for three. That puts Houston in the World Series. They played better and deserve their hard-won victory. Good luck, Houston, and beat LA.
But now, for the Yankees players, coaches, and managers—and Yankees fans from Yorkville to Yorktown and from the Bronx to the Belt Parkway—here is a last, loving truncated tribute to you, inspired by my fond feelings for Yorkville.
And of course to Phin, nee Ernest L. Thayer.
The Yankees at the Bat
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Yankees nine that day,
The score stood four to nuthin’, with but one inning more to play;
But when the first two batters died at home, and the third one did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the Yankees patrons of the game.
There was ease in each Yankees manner as he stepped up to the place;
There was a pride in each Yankees bearing and a smile on each Yankees face.
And when, responding to the crowd, each humbly tips his cap,
No stranger in the crown could doubt ’twas a Yankee at the bat.
Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled in Hudson Valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon Bear Mountain, and recoiled upon the flats,
For the Yankees, the 2018 Yankees, at least are closer to at bats.
Next year from the bleachers, we’ll send up un-muffled roars,
Like the beating of the storm waves on stern and distant shores.
“Beat the Red Sox! Beat the Red Sox!” we’ll all shout from the stands,
And it’s likely that we’ll beat them, with our soon-to-be farm ’ands.
Oh, somewhere in this baseball land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, where Houston hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Yorkville…the Mighty Yankees have struck out.