Our next pinch hitter is Ryan Lee, who brings an unusual perspective to a blog about baseball’s most successful franchise.
Ryan is 15 years old. He doesn’t remember 1996, has no real memories of 1998 and can hardly remember anything from the Yankees 2000 season. For him, 2009 was the first championship experience. He wasn’t waiting for the Yankees to do it again, he was just waiting.
Originally from New York and New Jersey, Ryan now lives on the West Coast. “Which means I’m 99 percent of the time hated by everyone when baseball’s on,” he wrote. “But, I get to watch games at 4 pm, which is a plus.”
To be perfectly honest, I asking a 15-year-old to write one of these didn’t seem like a great idea, but Ryan nailed it.
A couple of days ago, I had a conversation with a New Orleans Saints fan. He was ecstatic about the results so far in the NFL playoffs. “Ah, you wouldn’t understand,” he said. “Usually I expect them to lose, so this is amazing.” When I shrugged and said that I was used to watching the Yankees lose for most of my baseball-following life, he shook his head. “No,” he said. “You always expect the Yankees to make the playoffs.”
That’s true, but as any Yankees fan knows, the playoffs are just the beginning. Clinching the playoff berth is a minor victory on the long, nearly seven-month journey to the World Series. As a young fan, 2009 was the first time I experienced a full victory.
I was finally able to comprehend the rules of baseball around the age of 5, when I was in T-ball. By 6, I was watching games on TV, but I don’t remember an emotional response to any of it. At 7, I was following baseball on-and-off. By 8, I was a true fan.
That was 2002.
I grew up watching “Pinstripe Destiny” with my Dad — watching the glory days — but by the time I started watching the Yanks, those glory days were over. I waited, holding on to hope they would eventually get back to the glory I kept witnessing on those old World Series films.
Disappointment in ’03. Heartbreak in ’04. Losses in ‘05, ‘06, ‘07, and ‘08. I came to the realization that the Yankees might be descending into mediocrity. My friends didn’t share my feeling of dread — they followed the San Francisco Giants, and were wrapped up in Barry Bonds, Barry Zito, and Tim Lincecum. Team accomplishments, to them, became almost secondary to individual wins, ERAs, Home Run records and Cy Young Awards.
Then came 2009. Now in high school, my attitude about the world had taken a considerable turn to the pessimistic. When it came to baseball, I tried to keep the faith, but midway into April, I almost gave up. After seven years of patiently waiting, I was getting tired.
Then they started to win.
I watched all the old tapes again. “Pinstripe Destiny.” “100 Years of Pinstripes – Greatest Teams.” I was reliving the glory days.
November 5, 2009 was one of the greatest days of my baseball-following life. As I watched the players celebrating, I played a montage in my mind. John Wetteland jumping into the air, holding up his finger in victory. Scott Brosius jumping for joy in San Diego. Mariano celebrating on the mound.
I now have the 2009 World Series DVD. I’ll add it to the collection, and eagerly await more.