We Yankee fans won’t get much sympathy from the folks in Chicago or Cleveland, but it sure has been a long wait for the Yankee faithful. It has been nine long, sometimes painful, years since the Yankees last hoisted the trophy. Back then I was only ten years old, and I thought the Yankees won the World Series every year. I was incredibly spoiled as a young fan, as I unknowingly watched one of the most special teams in the history of baseball win four World Series in five years. My father always told me that someday I’ll realize how special that group really was, and I’ll realize how much I took it for granted as a young kid.
I’m 19 years old now. I’m a sophomore journalism student at Saint Michael’s college. I’m still a die hard Yankee fan. And let me tell you, I’m not taking anything for granted this time baby. I still remember crying in 2001 after the Diamondbacks stole Game 7 to win the series. I still remember being shocked when the Yankees, fresh off Boonie’s blast to send them to the World Series, looked so bad against the Marlins in 2003. I especially remember feeling so ashamed and embarrassed in 2004 that I begged my parents to let me stay home from school. And of course, I remember last year; how could the Yankees not even make the playoffs? It was enough to see them merely sneak in with the Wild Card the year before, but they had not missed the playoffs since before I was watching baseball. As much as all of that sucked, it made last night that much sweeter.
Let’s face it, as fans of the greatest sports franchise in the world, we’re constantly spoiled; not only with championships but with the greatest ownership, players, facilities and fellow fans. It’s a lot of fun loving a team everyone else hates so much. For me, 2008 was my first taste of what it felt like to be a fan of one the 22 teams that don’t make the playoffs every year. All the sudden, the October baseball I looked forward to so much every year was pointless and boring. I didn’t care about anything except seeing the Sox lose. But for most teams, missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years would often be the start of a downward trend. Not the Yankees. They treated us to one of the greatest seasons ever in 2009.
It was all over the headlines last off-season: big changes are coming. I knew they needed pitching, but I was weary of handing out big contracts to free agent arms after the Pavano, Brown, Wright (and etc.) sagas. I was a big fan of not trading for Santana the previous winter and holding on to Hughes, Joba and Kennedy. So when the Yanks shelled out three contracts worth $423.5 million dollars for CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and AJ Burnett, I was a bit skeptical and nervous. I had already seen so many pitchers fail in the Bronx, and I had seen Jason Giambi not live up to the hype as a free agent. I really had no idea what 2009 had in store for us.
Luckily for all of us, Carston Charles was every bit the ace we hoped he’d be; Mark Teixeira was a monster both offensively and defensively his first year in pinstripes; and AJ Burnett, while sometimes frustrating, pitched plenty of big games, didn’t miss a start, and ultimately was a huge asset for the team. In year one for this trio, they certainly didn’t disappoint.
So the mainstream media and bitter fans can bitch and moan all they want about how much money the Yanks spent on this season. But none of them can take away the trophy. No one can take away all the walk-offs, all the classic games and most of all, no one can take away our memories of watching the Bombers in ’09. Live it up Yankee fans. And let’s hope it’s not another nine years before number 28.