As I am always eager to do, I speak with other Yankees fans to get feel for the state of mind Yankees fans have. The polling I am conduct is very un-scientific, and often un-verifiable. This is the only way I can gather any real material other than my own thoughts for this blog. Bear in mind, I don't have any press credentials, and the only way I'll have access to anyone on the Yankees roster is if I buy a ticket and attend a game. I don't think anyone on the team will answer any of my questions there either as they wouldn't be able to hear me screaming at them from the "nosebleed seats."
Imagine this scene playing out in the stands:
Me: “Hey A-Rod! How do you explain your recent hitting slump!”
Drunken fan: “Shut up and sit down, you #@&*%^$! loser!”
Here's an example of my reporting methods. After striking up a conversation with a man wearing Yankees gear at my son's Lacrosse practice, I asked them what he thought of the Yankees’ current nine game deficit in the AL East. He immediately chimed in with an optimistic comparison of this team to the 1978 Yankees. I couldn't be sure if this guy in the Yankees cap and jacket was offering his own analysis of the situation, or if he was merely repeating what he heard on a popular sports radio program verbatim. I’d heard the same opinion on the radio as I drove to the practice field in my environmentally unfriendly SUV only minutes before our conversation.
However, I could sense the mood of this man. I could tell this Yankees fan and dad who was watching his son run across the field, lacrosse stick in hand along side my son, actually believed that this 2007 Yankees team could overcome their current nine game deficit and go on to win the World Series. "After all", he offered, "You have to remember that the 1978 Yankees came back from a fourteen game deficit in July behind Boston to enter the post-season and win the World Championship". He spoke with such vigor and authority that he made this writer believe that this team composed largely of listless, paycheck players could match the stellar spirit or talents of Thurman Munson, or Goose Gossage, just to name a couple.
Another Yankees fan, a co-worker of mine had extreme optimism as well, offered a different take, rather than the 1978 Yankees comparison.
“By July the Red Sox will go about a ten or twelve game skid, right around the time the Yankees will become really hot, and then things will change.” He said. Then, for good measure he added “Don’t worry. The Red Sox will fall. They usually do.” I can’t say that I didn’t worry after that prediction. It was hardly based on anything but the gut feeling of a seasoned fan that sees the Red Sox as unwitting dupes standing in the path of his beloved Yankees. Inevitably, he believes, the Red Sox will fall by the wayside so the Yankees can charge past them and on to World Series victory.
If I was new to baseball and to the Yankees I might just believe him. But replay the final game of the 2004 ALCS in your head and you’ll get the same creepy feeling that I’m getting now as this team goes into the Subway Series against the Mets, and then after that (gulp) up against Boston. As of this writing, I’m scouring the internet doing research on how to build a time machine. 1978, here we come.