The 2014 Yankees' tragic number continues to dwindle to zero while a second straight year without a playoff appearance looms ahead. The team's looking old and it appears to be at a crossroads of sorts. The dedicated fans will stick with the team through the tough times, just as longtime Orioles and Pirates fans survived lengthy droughts without so much as a winning record until the 2012 and 2013 seasons, respectively. To keep the faith, I find it's best to reflect on what made me fall in love with the Yankees in the first place.
There have been posts on Pinstripe Alley in the past asking fans about how they became Yankees fans, but that hasn't happened in a while. Additionally, I'm sure there are more members who might have stories we haven't heard before. Even if you've shared your Yankees fan story on PSA before, I highly recommend doing it again to get the conversation going and to enlighten the new members. We'd love to hear what everyone has to say!
I've shared my story before, but here's the SparkNotes version. Growing up, I was terrible at Little League, so like with many children who aren't good at something, I grew uninterested in baseball. It was a damn unfortunate time for me to be that way because that was right when the Yankees were winning all those championships in the '90s. The Yankees won four World Series titles in five years and made the playoffs every year from 1995-2000, and the most I actually caught of it live was a random snippets here and there when family happened to have the game on. I was just more interested in the Simpsons, the Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Yep, I was one of those kids.
It all changed early during the 2001 season. My family was full of Yankees fans, and on Memorial Day Weekend, the Yankees-Red Sox game was on. It was pretty competitive with Andy Pettitte facing off the recently-departed David Cone, who was driven from the game early on when the Yankees scored three runs against him; he was gone by the end of the third. Boston rallied by chipping away against Pettitte though, and the game was tied entering the eighth inning. Paul O'Neill, who had homered earlier, doubled against Pete Schourek to lead off the eighth, and Boston brought in burly Rich Garces to face Jorge Posada. The hard-hitting catcher came through with an RBI double, and Mike Stanton and Mariano Rivera combined to close it out in a 4-3 victory. It was a fairly typical game for that Yankees era, but it was enough for a relative newcomer to get hooked.
The next thing I knew, I was watching almost every game in the 2001 season, as I took a step back from most of my other activities to track the Yankees instead. It was, of course, a thrilling season to watch, as countless baseball storylines stayed constant throughout, from Japanese rookie Ichiro Suzuki's stunning dominance of MLB pitching to Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn's departures from the game, and Barry Bonds's mind-blowing 73-homer season. The Yankees won the pennant in dramatic fashion by coming from behind againt the A's in the ALDS and surprisingly running roughshod over the record-breaking 116-win Mariner, then played a captivating World Series with the tragic backdrop of 9/11 looming on everyone's minds. If there was a season one could handpick to cultivate baseball fans, 2001 was it.
How about you? What made you like the Yankees? Tell us in the comments! The stories can be as short or as long as you'd like. I will make a second post at a later point detailing some of my favorites.