Totally Unnecessary Baseball Article That Nobody Asked For

I hadn’t watched a single (read: not one) minute of baseball prior to the 2017 postseason. Being from New York (the state) I’m predestined to be a Yankees fan, or Mets fan if I had a diabolical, self-flagellating streak. I had a Derek Jeter jersey growing up though, admittedly, who didn’t? And yet, after hearing about Aaron Judge — the new, New York Adonis — and these ahead-of-schedule Yankees, how could I not watch? Full disclosure: I know next to nothing about baseball, and am writing this is as the worst kind of bandwagon fan.

The Yankees were actually underdogs this year. And yeah the Yankees are to baseball what the Lakers are to basketball, and ask anyone if they felt sorry for the brief Kobe-less stint the Lakers suffered through before acquiring both Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma (which, that Kuzma might be THE steal of the draft is just an affirmation that the universe favors certain parts of the country), I dare you.

In the wildcard game, even as a baseball outsider, I expected a win, seeing as brief research revealed that the Twins and the Yankees were not nearly as evenly matched as playing against one another in a wildcard game would have you believe. The heady, over-confident stupor that game left me in had me entertaining thoughts of a Yankees World Series, which is crazy, given that the Yankees were **supposed** to win and still had to topple a team that absolutely nobody in baseball wanted any part of: The Cleveland Indians.

Through two games, the worst fears of Yankees fans everywhere came to fruition. In game two it looked as though the Yankees were going to pull it off, but a timely Bruce homerun spoiled everything. From then on the sight of Bruce at bat was enough to send a game-two-PTSD chill down my spine. This was the team that had gone on a historically great run, over the duration of which they’d taken what felt like half the League behind the wood shed for a beating. This series was the Cleveland Indians patting the Yankees on the back saying you’ve had a wild run, but this is October, hardly the time for plucky underdogs. Of course, the Yankees, in a monumental upset, go on to win the series. Whether it’s more of an incredible win or an historic collapse is up for debate, either way we’ll (not backing down from that one) take it. Maybe these Yankees, who weren’t even supposed to be good yet, have a legitimate shot. Non Yankees Fans (N.Y.F.’s heretofore) collectively groan at the underdog language everyone is deploying in descriptions of these Yankees.

The ALCS rolls around and it’s an entirely unwelcome slap from reality. I didn’t buy the hype surrounding Jose Altuve, but every single syllable of praise, through two games, seemed warranted. The man hits everything in sight and looks like a track star running the bases. Somebody that short shouldn’t be that good, they say. Six feet is supposed to be, like, the minimum height required to be dominate in any sport that isn’t gymnastics. Altuve is the exception. In the words of Stephen A: Jose Altuve is a bad, bad man.

Things look dark as the Yankees head back home. Judge couldn’t hit anything. Neither could anyone else. I’ll admit, I was losing faith as all bandwagon fans are wont to do. Somehow I was forgetting that one phenomenon that has authored more legendary sports upsets than any other. All I have to say is: thank god for home field advantage.

I’ve been to New York (the city, which is the real New York, apparently) less than five times in my whole life and I’ve only been to the Bronx once. Thank you Google Maps. How could I know that the Bronx was a magical place where dreams come true and unlikely Pennant wins are birthed? How could I know that while people say New York (the city) is the place where anything can happen, it’s especially true about that most glorious of burroughs: the Bronx?

At home Judge ventures into his own personal Temple of Doom and emerges with the mojo that made him the lock for Rookie of The Year and a potential MVP. The Yankees in general, at home, look like maybe the best team in baseball. The Yankees win when they shouldn’t. The Yankees decode Dallas Keuchel, who’d been the Yankees kryptonite — unhittable (almost literally).

And so the Yankees rattle off three home wins and are a win away from claiming a Pennant in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. It’s funny how these things happen. You’re not supposed to be able to have your cake and eat it too. Sure, Jose Altuve could just decide to take the MVP and go on a scorching scoring binge the likes of which have not been witnessed by humankind. Judge, Gregorious, Sanchez and everybody else could fall off the face of the planet under the glaring lights, in the Lone Star State. But maybe not. If one thing is true, it’s that these Yankees are much, much, much better than anyone expected. N.Y.F’s don’t want to hear it because it’s hard to envision a team that last won the World Series less than a decade ago as a charming upstart. Yeah, the grossly hyperbolic hype-mongering that is assertions that Aaron Judge is the next Bambino, is enough to make anyone vomit. But these Yankees are for once not the looming Empire from Star Wars, and are actually fun to watch. What kind of person can’t get behind that?

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