We live in a fast-paced world. Hot takes, instant reactions, and quick news cycles dominate our lifestyle. It often takes years to appreciate players, moments, and careers in the midst of all the noise.
The fondness of looking back at the good-ole-days is a sensation that we all have experienced. It feels good, but that twinge of nostalgia can also feel slightly sad. The dream is that we could relive that moment with a greater appreciation for what we were witnessing at the time. Baseball fans, in general, have a strong bond with the past. And for a team like the Yankees, which has a rich history, grasping for a time that once was is a go-to topic for many fans. As we embark on a new season, I think it is a good time to begin valuing the time we are experiencing right now.
When Aaron Judge was announced during the Opening Day pregame ceremonies, I could not help but wonder what it would have been like if he were wearing a Giants uniform instead of a Yankees Jersey. It was honestly a horrifying thought. Those few minutes when the reports surfaced that he was a San Francisco Giant were shocking and terrifying. You can convince yourself of anything when coping with the reality of a player leaving, particularly that it will be okay without them, but in those few moments it was nothing short of devastating. I think one of the reasons I felt so strongly was that for a few seconds, I had a chance to look back, to realize what the Yankees had just lost. And that reality was that a generational talent was gone, and I wasn’t sure if I appreciated him enough when he was here. I needed more moments.
Luckily for Yankee fans, Judge ultimately decided to stay with the franchise, and the rest is and will be history. But history isn’t the only way we can appreciate players; we can value them right now. Judge’s home run in the first inning on Opening Day was greatness personified. We should let plays like that sink in so that we cherish them in the moment. If the scales tipped in a different direction this offseason, maybe that moment never happens. Or, a more daunting thought, maybe it happens for the opposing team. A lot of plays will get lost in a 162-game season, which is understandable given how long a season is, but we don’t have to move past them so quickly. It can be difficult considering that the players and coaches have a “next-game” mentality that is fed through the media.
But the Yankees have a possible Hall of Famer in Gerrit Cole, another potential Hall of Famer and the reigning AL MVP in Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, who hits the ball harder than most of the league and a plausible future member of the 500-homer club, and a 21-year-old shortstop prospect looking to start a long, storybook major league career. With the new league schedule, Yankees fans will also be exposed to many of the great players in the National League. We can afford to slow down for a second and appreciate the talent on the field.
Greatness does not have to be reserved for the past. Greatness can be a present player or a singular play. If we don’t take the time now to be present, we will look back with fondness, but also some regret. Even though everything around us in this world indicates otherwise, we are allowed to live in the “now”. Yes, there will be more Judge home runs and more great Gerrit Cole performances, but we shouldn’t take them for granted. Respect the past, anticipate the future, but appreciate the present. Lets go Yankees!