Well folks, it’s been a hell of a ride, but it’s just about time for me to go. This will be my last appearance at Pinstripe Alley – for now, anyway. I jumped on board a year and a half ago knowing little but Chicago White Sox fandom, and while I have to apologize (first and foremost) for bringing the stink of my franchise onto yours in 2023, I’m really happy to have had the opportunity to share the Yankees with you all, and grateful that you shared them with me.
Reading your comments, seeing your tweets, listening to your discourses, riding the highs, and waiting out the lows, if there’s one thing I’m coming away from it with, it’s that Yankees fans don’t take shit. In some respects, you have among the strongest of the love-hate relationship we all endure with the objects of our fandom. Few fans love harder than you do, none take more pride in their team and the identity it projects, and few will be quicker to put feet to the fire when things are going haywire. They’re not always the right feet, but nobody’s perfect!
Above all, the thing about you guys that might have registered the hardest is the way that Yankees fans are always demanding better. As the Dodgers are committed to showing us every year, nothing is guaranteed in baseball, and there’s always room for improvement because you could knock down the single-season wins record by 10 and still wind up three-and-out come playoff time. The White Sox being as bad as they are now is a relatively recent phenomenon, but even so, I’ve watched a lot of losing baseball in my life, and I couldn’t help but enter this sphere with an outsider’s “What are you all complaining about?” kind of attitude. A season later, I’m slightly embarrassed at how long it took me to figure out why, exactly, everyone seems to loathe Brian Cashman so much. Isn’t it as simple as winning and losing?
Now, I must say, I get it. In pro sports, winning a championship requires a kind of single-minded determination that’s mathematically impossible for more than a handful of teams to muster every year. The Yankees are one of the few teams whose fanbase can genuinely say they bring that kind of energy to the table every year, whether the front office follows suit or not. Every team’s fans can bring the energy when the stakes are high, but the environment and energy that the Yankees and their fans cultivate day-in and day-out, on the internet and in real life, is hard to find anywhere else. Standing in the bleachers for an August game against Boston in even a mildly competitive race can leave even the most experienced sports-watcher jolted out of their shoes through the sheer passion they find themselves surrounded by. It’s worthy of respect.
Nonetheless, in shifting focus from the among the poorest to the wealthiest of franchises, one can’t help but laugh and appreciate at how many of the afflictions and neuroses we suffer from as fans are simply universal, no matter who we’ve hitched our wagon to. Analytics are, as a great philosopher once said, both the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. The manager has no idea how to handle a pitching staff or bullpen. The owner cares more about profits than winning. One of the announcers can be kind of a jagoff. The sixth-best prospect in the system is way too valuable to be included in that trade proposal floating around the internet. You can be a fan of the best organization in the league or the worst, but there are problems that touch us all!
As a writer, it’s hard not to be energized by a team like the Yankees. Things are simply always happening, even amidst the worst season on the field in nearly three decades. Most of the time, when a team is having the worst season a generation has ever seen, you don’t also get to cover the promotion of the one of the most hyped international signings of the last decade and a blockbuster trade for perhaps the best left-handed hitter in the game. Whether you’re good or bad, baseball is fun when things are happening, and there are a frankly gross number of teams content to simply opt out of participating in the hot stove activity that keeps us going during the dead periods of the season and offseason. The Yankees, though? Things are always happening with the Yankees, and that’s something I’ve developed a deep appreciation for over the last 18 months.
At the end of the day, the Yankees are still going to be the Death Star and Evil Empire to the rest of us, even if the analogies are a little bit less sticky than they were a couple decades ago. But it’s a position that’s well-earned and well-maintained. You’re the number one team in the biggest city in the country, with the history to match. As long as don’t allow complacency to set in and let things get embarrassing with more than a few 2023-like seasons at a time, you can act like it. Just keep on demanding better.
It’s been a pleasure writing for all of you! I’ll be following the 2024 as close as anyone else, and I sincerely hope it’s a less infuriating one in the comments section than the one they just put you through. Happy baseball season!
Editor’s note: Our sincere thanks go out to Malachi, who was a huge help for us over the past year and a half and offered terrific perspective from the outside. Best of luck!