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On ramps, fandom, and taking the long way

Sports fandom is a silly thing we all do, but being part of a good crowd can be a joy like no other.

Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

If you’re a regular reader of this site, it’s more than likely you are a baseball fan, and that the Yankees are the team of choice. Every stadium has its charm, and a special spot in its fans’ hearts, Yankee Stadium is no exception. Any venue has beloved quirks, but in my experience, an unsung one at Yankee Stadium is the exit ramps, particularly after a big win, often filled with shared joy and classic Yankee chants. There is an inherent (and mostly good) silliness to fandom of any kind. The experience on these ramps after a Yankee victory are an excellent example of just that.

I’ve had the privilege of attending my fair share of important and exciting games at Yankee Stadium. Two of the most notable, in general and for the purpose of what I’m getting across here, took place in the 2017 postseason - a particularly exciting time to be a Yankee fan.

The first was Game 3 of the ALDS against Cleveland, and the other was Game 4 of the ALCS with the Astros. The first, which I covered earlier this week in our 25 best playoff games series, was a tight 1-0 victory, propelled by a Masahiro Tanaka gem and an unlikely homer from Greg Bird.

The second, which Josh will be covered today as part of the same series, was maybe the most exciting game in years, as the Yanks mounted a thrilling comeback to tie the series.

Each of these games were filled with tension throughout, and featured the very best of the postseason intensity we all love. For the division series game, my sister and I sat in the 400 level near the right field foul pole. There are many sets of stairs and elevators that can bring fans to the stadium’s exits, but there is also a big gradual ramp that does the same, at least on that side of the stadium. After an exhilarating Game 3, we took that route all the way down, for no particular reason at the time.

To our surprise, aside from the epic Bird homer, that seemingly endless trip down the ramp was the highlight of the game. The season had just been resurrected in exciting fashion, and the ramp was filled to the brim with euphoric Yankee fans cheering, high-fiving, and celebrating in any way they saw fit.

Chants rang out, varying greatly in terms of relevance to the game we just saw, but not in enthusiasm. You had your classic “let’s go Yankees” and the like, but there were also chants of “De-rek-Jet-er” and ones berating the Red Sox (after a game in which the Jeter-less Yankees beat Cleveland). I’m not much of a vocal cheerer (or chanter), but it was a pure joy to be a drop in the slowly flowing river of thrilled Yankee fans that night.

It was a funny, joyful, and supremely memorable few minutes. After the even more exciting game in the ALCS, we went a out of our way to exit via that ramp. It was well worth it.

I think there’s something to draw from this experience, as it relates to being a fan in general. As mentioned, there is an inherent silliness at the core of sports fandom. These are all made-up games with made-up rules, which have little real-world use or impact. Knowing this, we all still root for teams like it’s the most important thing in the world, or get in arguments with opposing fans. And I say this with affection, for the most part, as it is a good and fun part of many peoples’ lives, and I think it serves as a valuable source of distraction and joy.

I think those trips down the ramp at Yankee Stadium are a good example of this. It’s an impromptu community of mostly strangers, sharing in a common joy over a made-up game.

I am a big proponent of taking the long way, as a general philosophy, and baseball serves as a good vessel to enjoy the things taking this route can afford us. After any big Yankee win I have gotten to attend since that 2017 postseason, I make that effort to take the longer route down the ramp, just to enjoy the ride.