Yankees Fans: Hope is a good thing

A Gatorade bath of hope. - The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." -Andy Dufresne. September is coming and the Yankees are still in the playoff hunt. Hope has been rekindled and it's primarily due to a wild card system that I've never liked.

One movie line that always got me right in the "feels" is the classic quote from The Shawshank Redemption, one of the greatest movies of all time. The quote, by one Andy Dufresne reads "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." Perhaps it appeals to me because I'm an optimist. I'm an optimist when it comes to life and I'm an optimist when it comes to Yankee Baseball. This whole year I have been saying that the Yankees will not only make the playoffs, but finish first in the AL East. As another famous movie quote says, "There never was much hope. Just a fool's hope." Andy Dufresne and Gandalf the White. Both wise men.

The Yankees are coming to the final stretch of this regular season. It has been a bumpy ride, to say the least. It has been a turbulent, nerve wracking, heart palpitating ride filled with injury, sadness, and Reid Brignac, to say the most. There have been players that have played, or hilariously attempted to play, for the Yankees this year whose names I cannot even remember. Yet here we stand on the cusp of September still in the race for the playoffs. Three weeks ago our hearts and souls had damn near left our bodies after being swept by the lowly Chicago White Sox, the "good guys" if you will. Today, even if it is fleeting and foolish, hope has been restored.

Numerous things can be attributed to this new found feeling of hope for Yankee fans. Allow me to explain:

Profgreg3_medium

Thanks, Professor. Winning most certainly helps. Of that there can be no doubt. Getting competent or even halfway decent players back on the roster helps as well. Having Ivan Nova come back and pitch well raised the hope meter. Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia both pitched well in their last outings. Did I mention winning? Keep doing that please, Yankees. Obviously, winning is what will get the Yankees back into the playoffs in addition to other teams in our way doing the opposite of winning. Yankee fans of this generation might not know what that's like, but I believe that is referred to as "listening to Nickelback."

As much as I hate to admit it, the reason most Yankee fans are hopeful for the playoffs is due to the wild card and the second wild card. I've never liked the idea of the wild card and I like the idea of the second wild card even less. It's nowhere near as exciting as other "second" things like second breakfast or getting to second base. However, it is what the more logical, less Greg Kirkland-y fans are hoping for at this point. It stands to reason that the Yankees are shooting for that as well. As I sit here typing this I have to take a look back at all my vitriol for the wild card system and ask myself an important question: Have you become a hypocrite, Greg Kirkland?

I'm not stupid. Sometimes. Okay, lemme phrase it another way. I do have some shred of logic in me. While still probable, it is mathematically unlikely that the Yankees will make it to first place in the AL East. Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox look too good to falter down the stretch. More the Rays than the Red Sox, because 2011. One of the wild card slots is the more logical outcome. Before this year, I never really cared if they won when they got the wild card. It's probably due to my spoiled, self-righteous attitude about them finishing in first place, which they did the majority of the time during their near two decade run of playoff births. Something about rooting for a second place team just never sat well with me. Perhaps I'm just getting old & crotchety.

Yet here I am, immensely rooting for the Yankees to make the wild card spots, despite my dislike of them and the one-game elimination death match. It could just be the thrill of the challenge. It's really one of the first major regular season challenges we've seen from the Yankees since the mid-90's. It's very possible that it has to do with my sick sadistic desire to sap the hope from other fanbases around the majors that really don't want the Yankees to make it. Actually, I don't even need to say other fanbases. There are definitely people in our own colorful fanbase that do not want the Yankees to make it. Here are some reasons why that may be:

  • It could be because they hope that a losing season will actually make the Yankees change the way they do business. Yeah, good luck with that.
  • It could be because they are, or were, hoping for good draft picks to prepare for the future. You know, because the Yankees don't do that or something.
  • It could simply be because they really just want to be right about their negative predictions and rub it in the faces of optimistic fans. Um, congrats I guess.
  • It could be because they've been enslaved in the neon claws of a gambling monster named Gamblor, and they have money riding on the Yankees to lose this year.
This is where hope comes in, at least when making predictions. Yes, it is unlikely that the Yankees get the wild card. It is even more unlikely that they get first place in the AL East, like I really want them to. Anything is possible though. The fact that this team, which has been beaten like Ivan Drago beat down Rocky Balboa, is still in the fight. That in itself is something to be proud of. All it would take for the Yankees to be right back in the heat of the race is for them to have a 5-game winning streak and one of Boston or Tampa to have a 5-game losing streak. It's not impossible. It is what makes the game of baseball so much fun to watch, more than any other sport. And again, as much as I hate to admit it, the wild card has possibly made that more fun.

I could very well spew an intense profanity laden paragraph, or seven, if the Yankees do make the wild card and are eliminated in the death match. In the year 2013, with all the ups and downs and "Oh good lord, they signed Chris Nelson," just making the wild card would be something. Winning the World Series would be something else entirely. Is that fair though? I'm not just asking this question now, but stating that it would be one of the many questions asked if they did pull off the improbable. If the Pinstripe Empire actually did win it all, the wild card system might, somewhat ironically and hilariously, be called into question. I can see it now...
  • How did a team this broken, this battered, this Alex Rodriguez'd manage to come all the way from the near bottom of the AL East and win the World Series?
  • Does this new system just give the Yankees that much better a chance to make it every year?
Obviously I'm getting ahead of myself. That's what hope does though, or what it can do. But to answer the question I asked about 600 words ago, if Greg Kirkland had become a hypocrite, it's a distinct possibility. I've never been more excited at the possibility of the Yankees getting the wild card before. Either it's a sign that I'm getting over my Wild Card hatred or a sign of just how bad this season has really been. Honestly, I think it's the latter.

*Credit and thanks to Lilly Satou for the drawing!

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