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The Yankees fan experience of 2013

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In the middle of last season, my father randomly called to ask a question about Matt Adams. He wanted to know something about where Adams went to college or where he grew up, something like that. My response: Who in the world is Matt Adams?

Must have been the first time since 1984 that I’d never heard of that night’s Cardinals starting first baseman.

My relationship with baseball has changed a lot since I graduated college, left Missouri and began covering the game. It’s especially changed in the three-plus years since I took this job. Maybe that’s why I so loved this morning’s Pinch Hitter post. It was beautifully written and completely different from anything I would write here on the blog. I’m afraid it’s impossible to have my job and keep a true fan relationship with the game, but it was nice to have the fan experience described in 477 words.

As a follow-up, I thought I’d pull some of Sarah’s words and apply them to this Yankees team.  

[3]… you read all the books and you learn all the names and you memorize all the stats and collect all the stories…
This is for all you prospect huggers out there. At this point, getting to know Derek Jeter’s story doesn’t take much, but this line made me think of all the emails I’ve gotten about Rafael DePaula. The guy’s never pitched a single game in the U.S., he should be a complete unknown, yet I’ve had people ask me about his fastball, about his destination for 2013, and about a reasonable timetable for his arrival in New York. It’s kind of like when I got to college and found out that there were people who traded recordings of my favorite bands’ live shows. I always thought I was an intense fan, then I discovered an entirely new level. And just like with the prospect huggers, there are plenty who say it’s a step too far and takes away from the stuff that really matters. Also, this is why Jesus Montero is still brought up all the time. Because fans — and media — were legitimately invested in him.

… over time, maybe the intensity dulls. Maybe the novelty just wears off. …
I think we’re seeing a lot of that with the Yankees fan base this offseason. Jeter is great and all, but he’s old news. So are Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. Even CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have grown too familiar to build much excitement. The novelty is long gone, and players like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton are playing somewhere else, and there’s already an anticipation of what comes next in the Bronx. The familiarity — and the lack of a shiny new toy — is perhaps leading people to underestimate how good the Yankees could be in 2013.

… you realize you’re married to this game, or maybe to this team, but it’s not the game or the team you fell in love with. …
The Boss is dead, Jorge Posada is retired and Melky Cabrera became a steroid-enhanced all-star in San Francisco, not New York. For crying out loud, Kevin Youkilis is being fitted for pinstripes! Change is inevitable, and for those who have attached themselves to one  Yankees idea or one Yankees identity, change can be too much. Even those familiar faces who stay don’t stay the same. Alex Rodriguez is broken again, Jeter’s not a lock to hit .300 any more, and Francisco Cervelli is no longer an excitable backup, he’s a potential starter who might not be up to the job.

… It’s still there with you when you come home, a steadfast companion, ready whenever you turn on the TV or flick on the radio…
Of click onto the LoHud Yankees Blog! Come on Sarah. A little shout out, that’s all I ask.

[4]… maybe something comes up and everything reverses polarity again. …
Sarah mentioned a lot of individual moments that might re-ignite a fan — one great game, a smart discussion, an argument with a non-fan — but couldn’t the big picture do the same thing? If these Yankees stay healthy and actually make a run, wouldn’t they be a lot of fun to watch? Rivera and Pettitte making one last stand. Jeter, Youkilis and Ichiro making a statement at the end of their careers. The very reasons that this team might struggle — a lot of age, a handful of unproven regulars, fewer home run hitters than last year — are the same reasons that this team would be fun to watch if it succeeds. If guys like Michael Pineda and Austin Romine can solidify the future, even better, but strictly on a short-term basis, I think fans would really get into watching this group make a legitimate run.  

… It’s hard to give your heart, again and again, to something that might not deserve it. …
That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? How often have you dismissed a Yankees fan who jumped on board in 1998, gave up on the team in 2008 and suddenly became a “super fan” again in October of 2009? Sports are only exciting because of the unknown. The possibility of failure is essential, and without it, the success doesn’t matter. I’ve been asked time after time whether fans will bail based on the current financial plan and the short-comings of the new Yankee Stadium. My answer: Not if the team keeps winning (or starts winning again). A few might look at the bottom line and decide to move on, but for the most part, you’re either in or your out, and your devotion was set long, long ago. Fans have the right to indignation, but at the end of the day, the team is holding all the cards. You have little choice but to trust them — the players and the front office — to come through.

Associated Press photos