The Yankees are about to lose. For most people this is a welcome fact, but for me it is sad. You see, I am a Yankees fan. How did that happen, not being a native?
I was born in DC and saw the Senators play once in the old field. I was very young then. We moved to Baltimore, and I spent my formative baseball years in that place, rejoicing in their rise in the 1960s and their successes (and struggles) through 70s and into the 80s. We did live briefly in Detroit in the 1970s, but I was in college then, in St. Louis, and so did not form an attachment to the Tigers (through I did see a game at old Tigers field.) In the late 70’s I was in Chicago, on the south side, so I rooted for the White Sox (but did see a few games at Wrigley including a wild blowout of the Padres.)
My first ten years in ministry was served in Massachusetts, so I fought for the Red Sox. I remember to this day the evening in 1986, after an evening meeting, lying down to bed in my rural home and barely touching the mattress when Bill Buckner let the ground ball get past him in the series and said, right there to all who would listen, “It’s over.”
Then we lived in Texas, right between Astros and Rangers. College ball was bigger for us then, and we enjoyed Rocket Roger even more, as he came from UT to the Sox. Our connection, as it were.
Anyway, we moved to NYC in 1994, and because the Mets stole it from the O’s in 1966, and again from the Sox in 1986, I could not love the Mets. So I went to the dark side, and rooted for the Yankees. I lived there longer than anywhere else. It is my home in terms of years spent.
People love to hate the Yankees, and rejoice in their downfall. I understand. They have won more series than any other team. They are almost always in contention. They spend gigabucks to steal talent away from other teams. No wonder so many people hate them. I do not begrudge them, as it is part of their baseball weltanschauung.
But there’s the secret you need to know. We Yankees fans do not hate you. Sure, we love to win, but when we lose we do not begrudge it because so often it is a team that has been away from the series for a while.
So right now, as they are on the verge of losing to the Tigers, I am sad for them but glad for the Tigers. They deserve a shot and by golly they are playing like they mean it. You go guys. And as an American league boy who lived in Detroit for a while, I will root for you to womp the pennant and lay the Nationals low in a few weeks.
That’s the advantage of being a Yankees fan. We never really lose, because whoever wins deserves it and we’ll be back in the race next year. It would take about a generation for any other team to equal that record, and only if they won most every year and the Yanks lost as many. We have nothing to prove and thus nothing to lose.
Still, another subway series would be fun to watch. Maybe next year.