The Yankees have won 17 of 18 games — playing some of the toughest competition they’ll face all year, by the way — and in the space of 20 days they have turned a 7.5-game division deficit into a one-game lead. They ripped the heart out of the Red Sox last night, coming from behind to beat Craig Kimbrel with Brett freakin’ Gardner of all people playing the hero. Yes, things are going spectacularly for the Yankees. Baseball’s most successful and storied franchise is enjoying what, even for them, is some of the best baseball they’ve ever played.
Which, actually, is sort of a problem, because what do you complain about if you’re a Yankees fan?
Every fan base complains, obviously. Sports fandom has a huge subjective and emotional component to it, so not all of those complaints are logical. If you’re an Orioles fan, fine, you are 100% objectively justified in complaining about the product you’re seeing these days, but there were likely Orioles fans complaining in the late 60s and early 70s when they won all the dang time. Such is the nature of sports complaints. They’re not always logical or justified. But, just as you’re entitled to boo and cheer anything you’d like, you’re allowed to pick nits too.
Based on my experience of reading the comments of this blog, people get a bit more upset when Yankees fans pick nits. Mostly because the Yankees have such a history of winning. The particularities of (how shall I put this?) a certain sort of New York personality and its differences with a certain sort of non-New York personality enrich this mix to some degree as well. People like to give crap to what they perceive to be arrogant and entitled Yankees fans and Yankees fans, God bless them, love to not give even the slightest crap about what those people think. It’s all rather glorious, honestly.
Between the recent winning and that dynamic, I’ve noticed a few comments here of late from Yankees fans which underscore the existential crisis of those souls. They have at least been prefaced by an acknowledgment that the fan in question was entitled and unreasonable, but the nits were still picked:
Kevin is a longtime commenter, well-liked by this site’s commentariat and seems like a good guy to boot, but no one was really buying what he was selling. If, for no other reason, than the Pirates turned down a straight-up Cole-for-Frazier deal, but we’ll let that go for now.
Today another one:
There may be more substance to this complaint — Green has been heavily used and it is just May — but “our setup guy who is better than a lot of team’s closers has pitched too much during this blitzkrieg through the AL East because our other lights-out relievers have been temporarily unavailable” is still something of a high class problem to have. It’s early yet, but I’m guessing Boone’s Farm won’t find a ton of shoulders on which to cry.
Either way, I’m reasonably certain that these minor quibbles will make way for real problems as the season wears on. Remember last year when the Dodgers were rampaging their way through baseball, only to then go on a horrible skid in August and September? The baseball season is long and, even if you don’t suffer injuries (note: everyone suffers injuries) bad stretches happen to everyone eventually. Come July, the Yankees may be in genuine turmoil for reasons we cannot now anticipate.
But part of me worries that won’t happen. Part of me worries that they’ll just keep winning and winning and winning to the point that they make legitimate history. This doesn’t worry me because I don’t want the Yankee to win. They’re a neat team and history is always fun to witness. No, I’m wondering what, if that occurs, Yankees fans will complain about. I’m worried that they may become desperate.
It’s late October and Aroldis Chapman has just struck out, I dunno, Anthony Rizzo with a 102 m.p.h. fastball for strike three, completing the Yankees’ World Series sweep, in which they’ve outscored the Cubs 52-2. That came after going 7-0 in the AL playoffs which came after a 120-win season. It comes just a couple of weeks before Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius tie for the AL MVP Award, Luis Severino wins the Cy Young, Gleyber Torres wins the Rookie of the Year Award and Aaron Boone takes top managerial honors. Two days after that, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado agree to sign with the Yankees with massive amounts of deferred salary because, and I quote, “we could not imagine accomplishing anything in baseball that wouldn’t feel better accomplishing it in Yankee pinstripes.” As they say that, a bald eagle cries, soars around Yankee Stadium twice and lands on the shoulder of Joe DiMaggio’s ghost, who nods approvingly.
What then, I ask? WHAT THEN?!
Jake’s joking there. But someone won’t be.