The Decline and Fall of The Evil Empire

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are the ancient Rome of Major League Baseball.

No, I'm not talking about how the Yankees' run of dominance, with 27 World Series championships in the comparatively-short history of baseball, can be compared in the West only by Rome's run of dominance as the supreme military power in the Mediterranean Sea for almost a millennium. Nor am I comparing the team's recent track record as analogous to Rome's decline and fall, with 2017 similar to the reign of Justinian serving as a final "golden age" before a long and drawn-out collapse that had begun before and continued for eight hundred years after.

I'm not talking about performance at all. I'm talking about attitude.

Pessimism is as old as Western Civilization itself. Hesiod lamented a moral decline from a mythical "age of heroes" to his own time, and since then, everybody has thought that they lived in the end of days. Cicero thought so, as did Sallust, Cassius Dio, and Herodian - and those are just four pagan sources! I challenge you to find a positive ancient historian, who looked at his own time and spoke positively of it; I'll even provide the shovel so you can start looking, although the plane ride to the archaeological sites is on you.

What does this have to do with the modern Yankees? This negative attitude has surrounded the Yankees for as long as I can remember. That is not to say that everything is great - Stanton's and the bullpen's struggles are not great - but it's April, not the end of the world. If this happened in for two weeks in the middle of July, there would not be nearly this much concern. Baseball is inherently streaky; the season is 162 games for a reason. And there is plenty of reason for optimism - Judge and Gregorius's hot starts, Sanchez is starting to come around, and the bullpen's struggles have included a lot of bad luck that should stabilize given enough time. Injured players (minus Ellsbury) are moving their way towards returning, and on the horizon, Gleyber looms.

Don't let the detractors fool you. We're a long way from the baseball equivalent of 476 or 1453.

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