Yankee fans have become extremely negative. Not one time in this post season were the Yankees in trouble. The only time they were down in any of the rounds was when they trailed 0-1 in the World Series to a Phillies team with exactly one good pitcher. How that team went that far with so little pitching remains a mystery. Yet the sense of doom was always palpable among the fan base. The Yankees had some key games, but they never really had a must win game in the entire post season. In following the fan reaction on WFAN in New York, on Twitter, and in the frequent texts between friends, so much worry and negativity was evident that I am not sure these fans could really enjoy this team's success. That joylessness defeats the purpose of the vast time suckage of following sports.
The most depressing thing for a fan, to me, is to follow the very long regular season, and then for your team to undergo a quick exit in the wild card series. Your team plays 162 games to qualify, and then they can be bounced out in three games in the division series. That has happened to the Yankees a lot in the last ten years, which I suppose is where some of this negativity came from. They were bounced in round one in 2o02, 2005, 2006 and 2007. In 2008 they didn't make the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years and went on a spending spree for the ages. With a division series loss, the season is just over in a blink. Such a quick and unsatisfying ending makes you feel like a chump for watching all year. When it is a great series, such as the famous 1995 series against Seattle, it is easier to live with. In all those other years, it wasn't even much of a series. For many of those years, the biggest issue was living up to the amazing success of the 1996 to 2001 teams. I took the above picture in 1999 when I was working in New York city and had a company office on Wall Street. This team in 2009 looked a lot more like those vaunted teams in the relentlessness and the comebacks.
I think some negativity also comes from that and from scars from the Boston collapse in 2004, not to mention the still grating World Series loss in 2003 to the Marlins when the Yankees underperformed. This joylessness, which wasn't even as bad as it was in previous years, is still overblown in my opinion.
The other striking thing is how brilliant Mariano Rivera still is at nearly 40 years old. I think every Yankee fan is either a Jeter guy or a Rivera guy. I'm a Rivera guy and always have been. I pulled this from Jon Heyman's column:
For the 19th time in 29 postseason series, Rivera did not allow a run. His
patented cutter is a mystery to practically everyone, but especially to National
League batters who haven't seen it. He actually lowered his lifetime 0.77
postseason ERA to 0.74 by allowing one run in 16 innings. He might be the most
valuable player of his generation.
The other striking thing about being a Yankees fan is that nothing can match 1996. For Red Sox fans, I'm sure the same can be said about 2004. In 1996, the Yankees were the underdog. They hadn't won in 18 years. They lost the first two games of the World Series to the Braves. No one expected them to come back. Then Cone gutted one out. Then Leyritz hit that homerun, then Pettite beat Smoltz 1-0 and then Girardi hit that triple at the stadium. As great as this post season run was, nothing in my lifetime of watching sports can match the joy of 1996.