Heading into Thursday night’s game, the Yankees stood on the precipice of 90 wins. When they cross that threshold, it will mark the first time the Bomber have done that since 2012. With a postseason berth already clinched, and several Yankees in the mix for major awards, it’s hard not to consider the 2017 campaign an unequivocal success. What makes this team different from previous counterparts, however, comes down to the amount of fun they have together.
Believe it or not, the Yankees have earned a reputation for being a boring organization. Their businesslike attitude towards the game of baseball alienated the casual viewer. Pride, Power, and Pinstripes works for some, but it doesn’t necessarily expand the viewing demographics. Relying too heavily on tradition, combined with the “act like you’ve been there before” attitude, makes for a bland product.
The 2017 Yankees, however, shattered that perception. Throughout the entire season the club defied the norms, embracing levity all the way. To trace the roots of the fun breakout, one has to go back to spring training. The latest installment of the Yankees on Demand commercials, and their subsequent outtakes, showed off the team’s sense of humor.
As the season got underway, pop-up moments of fun became more routine. The odd couple pairing of Aaron Judge and Ronald Torreyes instantly comes to mind. What started as home run celebrations turned into a recreation of the movie poster for Twins.
Super fun photo shoot today with Aaron Judge and Ronald Torreyes. Story to come! ❤️⚾️ pic.twitter.com/nMkTHn8zdd— Yankees Magazine (@YanksMagazine) May 2, 2017
The celebrations didn’t stop there, though. They evolved as the months passed by. For example, in early August the team took to pointing to the dugout after big hits. That transitioned into the Thumbs Down movement, which took baseball by storm. Now Torreyes has orchestrated the best celebration to date. When a player hits a home run, he organizes a mock press conference, complete with cameras, microphones, and Aaron Hicks as the boom operator. It’s probably the most fun I’ve seen a team have.
When A-A-Ron isn't robbing home runs, he holds the boom on the Toe-Night Show. pic.twitter.com/X40RprRu4O— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 28, 2017
That’s not to mention promotional opportunities such as the Judge’s Chambers or the Players Weekend uniforms. Think about it for a second. The Bombers and Hicks embraced a Key and Peele sketch. Keegan Michael Kay even reprised his role as Mr. Garvey to support Hicks! These truly aren’t your father’s Yankees.
What explains this shift in attitude? The team’s age likely has something to do with it. The Yankees have a relatively young club. The youth movement resulted in an energetic squad that genuinely enjoys playing with each other. It’s no surprise that Gregorius, Judge, Torreyes, Starlin Castro, and the likes are always at the center of these activities.
Credit also has to go to the veterans. They went along for the ride and embraced the lighthearted mood. CC Sabathia, for example, stood out as the team’s most prolific dugout pointer. Todd Frazier co-founded the Thumbs Down army. Even Chase Headley, the Reverend Lovejoy of the team, got behind shenanigans.
“I resisted early on,” Headley told the New York Post during the pointing phase. “It’s kind of a fun thing, how everybody pulls for each other. That’s about all I’ve got.”
Matt Ferenchick recently mentioned in the Pinstripe offices that although this isn’t the best Yankees team ever, it’s certainly the most fun squad. The clubhouse atmosphere exudes joy and excitement. Even the most casual of observers can detect the camaraderie. It’s been a pleasure to watch these gentlemen over the course of the season. No matter what happens during the playoffs, the 2017 Yankees will stand out among the most likable teams in franchise history.