Did you know as of July 19, 2014, the New York Yankees trail the Baltimore Orioles by 3.5 games in the American League East standings?
I didn’t. And that’s a damn shame.
You see, despite the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers and whatever other professional sports teams insist on their relevance, no team in sports means more than the New York Yankees. From the Wikipedia article on the NYY:
… due in part to their success, the Yankees have garnered enormous popularity worldwide and a dedicated fanbase, as well as widespread enmity from fans of other MLB teams.
The Yankees won their first World Series in 1923. Since then, they’ve won 26 more World Series, in every single decade since then except for the 1980’s.
If your favorite baseball team has actually contended for a WS championship, the Yankees have had something to say about it. In my early years on the east coast, I followed the late-70’s and early-80’s Baltimore Orioles. I can’t tell you how many times my sister and I went to Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium to watch Earl Weaver’s Orioles do battle with the NYY. You know, the Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Rich Gossage, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, Sparky Lyle NYY. Those were real battles because the teams were closely matched, talented and well managed. Of course, the Yankees had a running battle with the Boston Red Sox. It was unbearable to watch the Red Sox play the Yankees in those days because something extremely negative was going to happen to Boston. The biggest of these on-field disasters occurred in 1978.
The Red Sox held a 2-0 lead in the (in)famous playoff game against the Yankees. Light-hitting shortstop Bucky Dent went into the Green Monster net to give NYY a 3-2 lead. If you ever have Red Sox fan start giving you junk about how they’ve suddenly become a juggernaut, remind them of that little moment. The Yankees gained a 5-2 lead, then held on for a 5-4 win. The NYY later went on to win the 1978 WS over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
You’ll see in the comments how one person says Dent’s home run is the most overrated in the history of the sport. No, actually there’s very few home runs more meaningful than that one. And as you know, I don’t like the NYY.
Did we mention the late George Steinbrenner (1930-2010), a symbol of all that’s right and wrong with sports? His spending excess led to what a lot of people believe is wrong with sports … pay becoming more meaningful than the sport itself. It also led to a style of ownership that’s more popular with fans … an owner willing to pump profits into the only thing that matters … winning. Some owners attempted to duplicate Steinbrenner’s style, but none have done it for such a long and sustained period, roughly 30 years.
You as well as I do know the Yankees have had a number of painful moments. The Lou Gehrig retirement speech.
Thurman Munson’s death, and the Yankees playing the night of Munson’s funeral.
And who would ever forget the post 9/11 first pitch, thrown by the previous U.S. President?
The NBA and NFL didn’t even exist in their current incarnations when NYY won its first WS. Why do we lose sight of the Yankees, the most storied and long-lasting franchise in sports? We are no longer about the marathon. We only get sound bites, momentary items in our ADD society. It’s time we go back to baseball, the Yankees and what really means something.