I've been a Yankees fan my entire life. Hell, the first picture ever taken of me I was wearing a Yankees hat. Sure, I really couldn't understand what I was wearing or why, but that put me well on the way to being a lifelong fan.
And the late-'90s Yankees dynasty marked the very start of my sports fandom.
I still maintain the 1998 Yankees are the greatest team of all time.
I was there when the Yankees clined the 1999 World Series Championship. I still remember all the flashbulbs that went off down the first baseline as Roger Clemens puffed out his chest mid-windup as he went to throw the first pitch.
Maybe it's caused by my youth, and with youth comes feelings of invincibility, but I felt almost as if the Yankees were supposed to win all those years in the 1990s and into the 2000s.
But, if the Yankees succeed in their yearly owner-demanded quest to bring a 27th World Series Championship to the Bronx, the 2008 title will be the most fulfilling one in a while.
The Yankees dugout began to resemble a black hole of veteran talent around 2001, and none of that veteran talent really gelled, proved by several early playoff exits. Most of the time, the solution quickly became get more expensive players. This theory was disproved with more early playoff exits.
But, now, much of that talent is gone or benched in favor of younger players.
The pitching staff is decidedly home-grown. Chien Mien-Wang is the opening-day starter. The team will have to rely on the likes of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy for quality outings if they are to win games. Shelly Duncan looks like he's going to have a more important role this season.
They re-signed long-time, durable, defensively-strong catcher Jorge Posada instead of outright buying somebody else. Derek Jeter is back to lead the team, and Alex Rodriguez is back at the hot-corner for the Yanks.
The 2008 New York Yankees look more like the New York Yankees than the Hired Gun MLB All-Stars they resembled in earlier years.
If New York enjoys another championship this year, with the Yankees crashing the Giants championship party, 2008 will prove to be the most fulfilling baseball season the city has seen in a long time.