Enough is enough for this disconsolate Yankees fan
I cannot keep doing this every year. I cannot keep writing the same harrowing autopsy report. I cannot keep listening to the same anguished cries of my disconsolate brethren – insulted and ignored by those in charge. I cannot keep highlighting the same existential flaws, just for the New York Yankees to do nothing. It is insane. But, more worrying, it is predictable. You can set your watch by this team’s perennial failure.
For a thirteenth straight October, here we are, dissecting another Yankees choke job. Here we are, busting blood vessels and venting spleens over another postseason humiliation by the Houston Astros. And here we are, apoplectic and distraught, awaiting another sickening press conference from Brian Cashman, the arrogant, ignorant weasel who insists the baseball playoffs are a lottery, despite the same result – premature elimination – occurring but twice this century.
This madness cannot continue, but it will. There is nothing more certain than oblivious continuity in the Bronx. Hal Steinbrenner will count his money, satisfied by 99 regular season wins and five October sellouts. Lonn Trost will sell his luxury boxes to a curated clientele of Wall Street yuppies, caring not about the common fan. Randy Levine will re-sign Aaron Judge to sell jerseys but leave the bullpen in tatters. Cashman will probably have his contract extended into a 26th year, continuing his inexplicable reign as baseball’s foremost totalitarian despot. Heck, even Aaron Boone, the woefully inept manager, is likely to stick around. Meanwhile, we, the despondent fans – the tortured souls who make these people rich with our masochistic interest – will be left to mope and mourn through another agonising winter.
I, like you, want to see this failed core blown up. I, like you, want to see Cashman fired. I, like you, want to see Hal sell the team. But I, like you, know these things will never happen. Why? Because according to the Yankees’ current business model – win enough to play a few money-spinning games in October, results be damned – this season, like so many before it, was an unmitigated success. The cabal of front office deplorables did their job, as directed by emotionless Hal, so ending their employment is not on the agenda.
Hal, Randy and Lonn will only listen – let alone act – when the bottom line begins to suffer. They do not care if a Yankee Stadium crowd of 48,000 boos the shit out of Josh Donaldson. They do not care if Michael Kay, John Jastremski and Mike Francesa are inundated with vitriolic calls about Isiah Kiner-Falefa. They do not care if Twitter crashed under the dense weight of Yankee fan rage. At least people are buying tickets, filling the ballpark and talking about the team. At least people are interested, and that interest generates dollars.
No, the only way these insouciant functionaries will sit up and take notice is if Yankees fans stop showing up; stop buying merchandise; stop subscribing to YES; and stop giving the team free advertising on social media. All these people care about is money. It is the only language they understand. Therefore, only in financial terms will they ever understand the depths of apathy eating away at a disgusted fanbase. Only when revenues drop will they rush to clean house.
It is not my place to call for a wholesale boycott of the New York Yankees, but each individual has their own prerogative. Sometimes, when all other options are exhausted, dissociating from the pain becomes an appealing strategy. It may be a defence mechanism, protecting passionate fans from the excesses of blind devotion, but perhaps abstention is the only way to penetrate the aristocratic indifference.
Personally, I have written about the Yankees since 2014. I have covered four October defeats to Houston and two playoff losses to Boston. Throw in a courtesy humiliation via Tampa Bay, and that is a whole lot of ink spilled in pursuit of a championship, which is no closer now than when I started typing about Derek Jeter’s farewell. Unfortunately, the English language only grants me so many permutations, and I’m struggling to find fresh takes on recurring problems. The story never changes with this team, and I’m all out of synonyms.
Sure, I could write an essay excoriating the overarching philosophy, but I have already done that. I could produce a rambling stream of consciousness on how to fix the franchise, but I have already done that. I could list potential replacements for Cashman and Boone, but I have already done that. Nothing moves the needle, so what is the point of wasting time and energy anymore? What is the point of pissing into the wind?
It would be disingenuous to say I will not write about the Yankees moving forward. You and I both know that fandom is a capricious beast, and there must be an outlet for all that pent-up rage. Moreover, these are the New York Yankees. They matter. Everything they do is placed under a microscope, and I will always have opinions to share. Yet until seismic change is enacted on River Avenue, my participation will be scaled back for the foreseeable future. My archives double as live commentary with this ballclub, anyway, such is the stasis.
Ultimately, baseball is supposed to be fun. Baseball is supposed to be enjoyable, energising and entertaining. It is supposed to provide escapism from the stress and strife of everyday life. On the contrary, enduring this gutless Yankee epoch – timid, tame, tedious – has become a trigger for angst and dissatisfaction. There is no excitement here. There is only the helpless annoyance of a fallen empire incapable of rekindling its might.
Some will call this classic Yankee fan whining. They will call it preposterous to criticise an owner who consistently spends more than $200 million per year on player payroll. They will brand it unfair to scold a general manager who has won four World Series titles. They will find it crude to disparage a franchise icon who has made the playoffs every year of his managerial tenure. But those people do not understand. Those people do not get it.
This is not about winning. This is not about entitlement. This is not about the Yankee birthright of juggernaut domination. Rather, it is about an untouchable ruling class immune to feedback. It is about a stubborn dictatorship unwilling to modernise. It is about a loyal fanbase whose fervour created the most lucrative sports brand in the world, only for the profits to be squandered by complacent officials. It is a scandal, quite honestly, but change is far from the horizon.
And so, until the Yankees get real and seriously adjust their hierarchy for the first time in a quarter-century, I will likely take a step back and refocus on what is important in life. Baseball is a huge part of that life, but I’m done wilfully engaging in experiences that make me angry, sullen, vehement and pessimistic. The load is too much to bear – for me and those around me. I have to wake up and smell the coffee: if those in power do not care about winning – about history, tradition, mystique and aura – there is no point expending my finite resources on it. I’m shouting into the abyss and nobody is listening.