What’s a Yankees Fan to Do?
With eight games to go in their 2008 Major League Baseball season, the Yankees’ “tragic number” currently stands at 2.
That is, any combination of two Boston wins and New York losses will result in the Yankees missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993, not including the cancelled post-season of 1994. This leaves fans of this disappointing edition of the storied Bronx Bombers in some very unfamiliar territory. So, facing a late September of virtually meaningless baseball followed by a huge October void, what are Yankees fans to do with themselves?
First, let me say that this doesn’t apply to me as much as I suspect it does to many others. I love the season’s stretch run and October baseball, whether my team’s in it or not. Don’t get me wrong, it’s more exciting when they are involved, but more stressful as well. So, I offer these suggestions as my short list of what Yankees fans still have to root for this year.
- Mike Mussina’s quest for the first 20-win season of his career. I have to believe that, by winning his 18th Thursday night, the Yanks will skip over Phil Hughes’ next turn in the rotation, and let Moose pitch on the 23rd, and then again on the 28th, the season’s final day. Mussina’s comeback season has greatly improved his Hall of Fame credentials, and if he truly has reinvented himself a la Greg Maddux, he might not need that 20-win season to secure his place in Cooperstown.
- The emergence of young pitchers Alfredo Aceves and Phil Coke, both of whom have been nothing short of impressive since their recent callups. Aceves, who joined the team on August 28, has a 1.80 ERA, and has allowed 15 hits and just 3 walks, while striking out 12, in 20 innings, including earning the win in his first major league start. Coke, a September 1 callup, has pitched 10 2/3 innings in 8 relief appearances, and has been virtually untouchable, allowing no runs on just 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 8.
- Most importantly, Yankees fans can pray that their team is not eliminated from playoff contention in the final game played at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night. Just one Boston win or New York loss could put the the Yankees in the unfortunate position of needing to win that night to prevent the worst from happening. Being eliminated before that game would even be preferable to that scenario.
- Finally, of course, there’s rooting against the Red Sox. While this sounds simple, I’m not talking about just rooting for a first round playoff exit. As difficult as this sounds, I challenge Yankees fans to actually root for the Red Sox to reach the World Series, only to lose to Joe Torre’s Dodgers, powered by Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra. If not the Dodgers, the Sox could fall to the Mets in some kind of approximation of the 1986 World Series, or make history by being the team to fall to the Cubs for their first Series victory in 100 years.
So, don’t worry fellow Yankees fans. There still is plenty to be excited about this fall. You just have to exercise a little creativity. That, of course, and promise yourself that next year will mark a return to glory, or at least be a little less frustrating than this season has been.