Certain players captivate us quickly. Often times immediate impact on the field is the driving force behind a player winning over a fanbase, but is there something deeper in us that draws us to certain players?
We all enjoy watching superstars, but I tend to fall quickly for the true underdog, the gritty player who exhibits a tough, team-first mentality. This is the type of player we all can relate to. We see a part of them in us, which allows for a greater appreciation for what they have accomplished. You can think of immediate examples on the current Yankees roster, like Nestor Cortes or Jose Trevino. However, as the end of the season approached and the postseason began, I found myself gravitating towards a player different than my usual fan favorites. Now as I sit here in the dead of winter, I am asking myself, why him?
Yankees fans spent much of the home stretch of the 2022 season wondering what Harrison Bader would be. As the Yankees stumbled through August, Bader’s lack of impact due to injury felt like an easy critique of the Yankees’ trade deadline. Five postseason home runs later and we all flipped our opinion quicker than a Bader home run bat twirl. Now I know what you’re thinking, “isn’t it easy to like a guy who hit bombs in a postseason when the Yankees offense was struggling?” Sure, fair point. But I think that thought process is just scratching the surface.
Sometimes its hard to quantify the “it” factor, but whatever “it” is, Harrison Bader seems to have it. Throw a sprinkle of cockiness, some charm, and a whole lot of swagger into a mixer and you’ll end up with Harrison Bader. I mean, we all saw that purple shirt-jacket that he wore during the MLB Network interview, and if you haven’t you should watch it immediately (what we would all give to be able to rock something like that). Whether it’s sitting courtside at Knicks games or volunteering at the Yankees holiday food drive, Bader seems very present in NYC this offseason. He feels local because he is, and I think that gives fans an even greater feeling that he belongs here.
With that said, you wonder how long a hot stretch in the postseason can carry how Yankee fans feel about a particular player. Sometimes the newness of a trade deadline acquisition, coupled with early success, can hide a player’s flaws. I’m sure there are plenty of fans out there that don’t care about brash style or moxie and just want him to prove it for a full season. Maybe you’re even in the category where you think that none of this matters as long as they win, which is valid, but also no fun for the sake of this article. Amuse me and pick a favorite player!
I started writing this article with the hope of finding a concrete reason why we gravitate towards certain players. But in the end, part of being a fan is that who we like, or why we like them is ever changing. We don’t need to be confined to a certain category. Maybe you liked Paul O’Neill in the ‘90s because he was tough and played hard, or Matt Carpenter last year because his mustache coddled his upper lip with the lushness of fresh cut grass. Whatever your taste, whatever your flavor, enjoying the play of your favorite players is what makes sports fun.
For me, Harrison Bader is the guy we all wish we could be: athletic, confident, and stylish. For now, he’s my guy, and maybe he is your guy too.