After a certain point last night it became clear to the average Yankee fan that the Yankees were not going win the game. When a fan makes that realization there are certain options available to them. Many people can choose to move on from watching baseball and occupy themselves with some other fulfilling aspect of their lives. Others can simply go to sleep.
I am not one of those fans. I am stark raving mad about baseball. If I shut the game off I know it won’t be long before it is back on again. A coworker of mine once told me he doesn’t watch many of his team’s regular season games because it is too stressful. This revelation left me dumbfounded. The very idea of not being able to follow each pitch whenever possible for the yearly 162 game season sounds like torture. I am sure I would be need to be tied down in a room with no television, wireless, or even semaphore flags with which I could signal to the outside world, “What is the score?” for me to miss too many games in a baseball season. Many a time I have attended a play, concert, or some live sporting event and made certain my cell phone was charged and ready for baseball tracking whenever I had a moment to do so. Gameday saved my life during a two hour graduation ceremony for my niece this past spring.
Which brings me to the point of my Feelings. Certainly, one does not watch a game like last night’s from a Yankee perspective and feel content with the situation. In a tough loss, I usually look for one thing in the later, inevitable innings to cling to–a great play, a booming home run, a nice strikeout–in order to move on with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my chest. There was very little to choose from amidst the Yankee play in Game 3 of this ALCS.
And yet, I found a certain satisfaction in knowing that, although my team was losing the game while fans and the media lost focus, the ache in my chest was one of mourning and not anger. Because I wasn’t mad at anyone on the team. Because I was determined to sit there and lose right alongside every one on the 25 man roster and coaching staff. Because it wasn’t about pulling out the weaknesses and previous failures of each player like one would pull out previously “forgiven” incidents in a fight against a loved one in an effort to really show how critical and analytical I am in a blog post or on Twitter.
It was all about knowing that even when my Yankees were being put down like little leaguers in my chest was the furious, passionate fire of appreciation. I know how good each and every one of those hitters in the lineup are. I know how impressive it was that Andy Pettitte allowed no more runs after a bad first inning. I know that no matter how much talent or will David Robertson has that one night he might not be able to put anyone away.
Because I am a Yankee fan. It’s as simple as that. That doesn’t mean I am a fan of the Yankees only when they win World Series or I am a fan of them when they do not look historically foolish in a playoff game against a great pitcher but one who isn’t the greatest of all time. It means when the low-slugging left fielder forgets whose basepath it is and slides into near injury to make an out, I’m still a fan of him. When the team is down 8 runs in the bottom of the ninth and Derek Jeter strikes out I’m still a fan because he worked a ten pitch AB and I know that’s quality ball fouling work. Because I’m not a fan of the rings. I’m a fan of everything it takes by every player on the team to get to the point of earning one.
So I feel some camaraderie for the fan sitting in the empty stands after the game was finished. You’re left with a lot to think about in a moment like that. But in the end it doesn’t matter if the Yankees lose two more games in this series. What are you going to do, root for the Rangers? Please. They aren’t the Yankees. Nobody else is. Nobody else gets my fandom, no matter the final score.