For the first time in recent memory, the Yankees changed the script on what had been a hallmark of their franchise: they didn’t condone being very fun. Not in the winning-a-lot-of-games sense, but in the enjoyment and emotion shown by the players on a day-to-day basis. This season gave Yankees fans a glimpse into a future where their team could have fan favorites for both performing well on the field, and for being an enjoyable personality. There were many moments that defined both of these qualities, but here are five of the best moments from the 2017 season.
#5) The Comeback vs Baltimore
This happened early into the season, but it came to define a lot of what the Yankees were throughout the year. Trailing 9-1 in the sixth inning, the Yankees were in the midst of a pummeling courtesy of Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo. Each had homered, and Trumbo’s bomb, a grand slam, seemed to seal the deal.
Until, that is, the Yankees proceeded to throw counterpunch after counterpunch. Starting with a two-run shot by Aaron Judge, just his ninth of the season at the time (#8 had been hit earlier in this very game). After a Jacoby Ellsbury grand slam, and an epic two-run home run by Starlin Castro, the Yankees overcame the massive deficit and forced extra innings.
They would not disappoint after that. In the tenth, Matt Holliday hit what was probably his signature home run as a Yankee, a shot into the home bullpen to walk it off at 14-11.
#4) The Home Run Derby
Oh, what a night this was. The national media had caught onto the phenomenon that is Aaron Judge by this point, as he had produced mammoth home run distances and MVP caliber numbers in the first half, and many were predicting he would put on a show in Miami.
Judge delivered, all right. His closest competition came in the first round, when Justin Bour surprised many and pushed him to hit 23 to advance. After that he coasted through Cody Bellinger and Miguel Sano to win the derby and provide us all with incredible reactions like this:
#3) The Wild Card Game
A game that we were heavily expected to win became a classic after the Twins knocked out Yankee ace Luis Severino before he could record a second out. From there, the rally was on as Didi Gregorius blasted a three-run shot to right field, Brett Gardner and Judge contributed a pair of bombs, and the strength of the Yankee bullpen was put on display.
Chad Green had an incredible season, but his entrance into the first inning to close the door on a potential death blow by the Twins after Severino’s exit was his greatest performance of the year. It cemented his place atop the bullpen alongside David Robertson as the Yankees best shutdown pitchers. All of the work done by the pen that night showed to the world the threat the Yankees had in these playoffs, and they would capitalize of them multiple times throughout the postseason.
#2) Aaron Judge Breaking McGuire’s Record
Part of what made this moment so amazing is that after an unstoppable first half where it seemed inevitable that Judge would pass the 50 home run mark, a terrible second half slump seemed to kill the possibility.
September would find Judge revitalized however, and that was unfortunate for the Kansas City Royals. On September 25th, Judge hit his 49th and 50th home runs off of Royal pitching to tie and then break the rookie home run record set by Mark McGuire back in 1989. Judge’s hitting in September was one of the main reasons the Yankees righted the ship and finished the regular season in strong fashion, but this game was the highlight of that period, and the regular season in general.
#1) Game Five of the ALDS vs Cleveland
The feeling around the Yankees after they blew Game Two of the Division Series against the Indians was damaging. Many felt that they had blown their only chance to win this series, and a clearly superior Cleveland squad was now going to steamroll right into the LCS against Houston.
That was not the case. The Yankees had to win a very close Game Three to avoid a sweep, and after that momentum remained on New York’s side. Game Four was almost never in doubt, due to Yankee power and several Cleveland errors, and suddenly a do-or-die Game Five loomed back in Cleveland.
Game Five was a fight the entire night, but a fight that the Yankees controlled. Gregorius had the Yankees leading immediately, shooting a solo shot off Corey Kluber into the right field stands for a 1-0 lead. He would tag Kluber again in the third inning, this time a two-run shot, and the Yankees had a lead that they would never relinquish.
CC was dominant for most of his outing that night, surrendering a couple runs before being lifted but tallying nine strikeouts. The bullpen would ride the rest of the way, and a clutch at-bat by Gardner in the eighth scored another two runs and effectively ended the game.
So many moments stood out among the Yankees season, and regardless of its ending they truly did outperform most of our expectations. What were some of your favorite moments from this year?