Blessed. Grateful. Even spoiled. Those are some words that come to my mind when thinking about how it feels to be a Yankee fan.
Ever since I was a kid (well, I'm still a kid for the most part, 19 isn't THAT old), the Yankees have played a major role in my life. My first and greatest memories I have were times I spent at my uncle's house, having a mid-summer barbecue outside, listening to the Yankee game on the radio.
If I got sick of playing in the sun (which I never did), I could always go inside and watch the games on TV in my uncle's bedroom, which had as much Yankees merchandise as a Team Store at the new Stadium.
Beyond that, I remember times in school when kids would come in wearing other teams' colors, such as the Braves or the Padres, or especially the Mets; the teams the Yankees faced when they won 4 of 5 World Championships from 1996 to 2000. Of course we all know how that ended. The only shirt that ever lasted was the one with that white background and nice vertical navy blue pinstripes.
Even today, I still stand in amazement when I pick at everybody from my great uncle all the way to a professor of mine, who describe to me times of when they met Joe DiMaggio, or were in attendance for a game in ‘61 when Mantle and Maris hit back-to-back home runs. This is stuff people just can’t make up!
Times have changed, and those times might be gone. But being bred a Yankees fan is still the greatest thing that can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, some might take this privilege for granted. How many times this year have you heard someone say "forget it, they're done!" Last time I checked it's 15 games into the season, and the only thing that's standing in our way of first place is an overachieving Blue Jays team; yeah, we're done alright!
Seriously, though, as I learned from being around people who have been through the 80's teams, you can NEVER turn your back on this team. You can debate all you want, badmouth the GM for making stupid decisions until you're blue in the face, give it to the overpaid clean-up hitter who goes 0-20 in the playoffs, but you can't badmouth the franchise, as a whole, that gave you so many incredible moments!
I'm lucky to have grown up when the Yankees were on an incredible roll. The last thing I think about are the titles, though; that's just the icing on the cake. What I really take from these teams are the incredible moments.
Moments spanning from coming back time after time after time as if it were clockwork, such as Tino Martinez's grand slam in the '98 World Series.
Moments that killed Boston fans, in Aaron Boone hitting a home run in Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS to send the Yankees to the World Series.
Moments that seem improbable like Brosius getting the go-ahead homer off the man that is "supposedly" one of the greatest closers of all-time, Trevor Hoffman.
Moments that seem IMPOSSIBLE, such as Don Larsen throwing out the first pitch to Yogi Berra on his namesake day to commemorate their perfect game, only to witness David Cone pitching one of his own a few hours later! As Tim McCarver said on air, “This can’t happen, can it?” It did.
Moments that have no words to even describe how incredible it is, like Scott Brosius (there's that name again!) hitting a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie it in Game Five of the 2001 World Series.
Awesome moment in itself after what happened a few months before. But it happening after Tino Martinez did the EXACT same thing the night before? COME ON! How much better can that get?
In 19 years I already have more “moments” than fans of other sports teams compiled in 30 or 50 years. The best part of it is that just about every generation of Yankee fans can say the same thing! That’s what makes this team and its fanbase so great.
I guess I don’t have a major point in this article, other than to remember what made me become a Yankee fan, and hopefully jar some memories for other people on what made them become one.
The Yankees are the premier club in all of sports, and I never go a day without thinking about why I put all the energy into wearing my t-shirts or jerseys, yelling at the TV countless times for 162 games (and sometimes more) a year, or trying to win countless debates with Mets fans who think their team is better.
Blessed. Grateful. Spoiled. Yeah, those work.