Has anybody gotten tired of watching Yankees 2017 highlights on YouTube yet? I didn’t think so. Last season’s improbable playoff run was the most pleasant of surprises for Yankees fans, but the unexpected didn’t stop at their success on the field. Sure, the Bombers came just one game short of reaching the World Series for the 41st time in team history, but the most surprising October event surrounding the team may have been how they were viewed around the baseball world.
Somehow, the Evil Empire persona softened, and gave way to a Yankees team that was viewed as a young, gritty group that may even be (dare I say it) somewhat likable by baseball fans outside of the Big Apple.
It really was a unique experience for Yankees Universe. Fans of opposing teams didn’t foam at the mouth at the sight of the interlocking N-Y anymore, instead giving a halfhearted dose of respect for an organization that rode its home-grown talent to the precipice of another World Series berth. Some Yankees fans likely felt a sense of awkwardness, not knowing how to respond to such treatment. For those who didn’t know how to handle the underdog label, fear not. That ship is going, going, gone.
With the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees’ theme song once again became the Imperial March, with everyone quickly reverting back to their default setting of hating the Yankees for somehow grabbing the NL MVP and his 59 home runs (thanks Jeets). CC Sabathia discussed the return to normal on MLB Network on Thursday, and expressed his appreciation for once again being the hated team of the league.
Of course, whatever underdog label was attached to the Yankees last October, it was never going to stay, no matter how many Baby Bombers made an impact. Just look across the country in Oakland, where the Golden State Warriors won a NBA title with a crop of young internal talent like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Fans praised the Dubs for “winning the right way” with their own drafted players, whatever that means. Fans of all sports seem to appreciate winning when it requires little-to-no players who were acquired by any methods besides the draft.
That’s why the Warriors went from loved to hated with the stroke of Kevin Durant’s pen in July of 2016, when he signed with the Warriors to make the NBA’s best team unbeatable. The Yankees have taken a similar course in how they’re viewed around the league with the trade for Stanton. The likable underdog label is obviously very fragile, especially with a team like the Yanks, who are so used to being hated.
So, let’s all continue to watch those playoff highlights until Opening Day hits, because the feel around the Yankees will be much different. The wins will continue, but they will be met by much different reactions outside of New York, which Sabathia and the Yankees don’t seem to mind. It’s what we’re all used to anyway.