Last night, the New York Yankees completed a surprising comeback against the baseball team from Cleveland, winning the American League Division Series 3-2 after dropping the first two games on the road.
Cleveland, owning the best record in the American league thanks largely to a legendary 22-game winning streak, came into the series heavily favoured over the Yankees, who defeated the terrible Minnesota Twins in the wild card game to reach the ALDS. As a result, the Yankees are being heralded as this endearing, underdog, little engine that could, which is bizarre considering they own the second biggest payroll in Major League Baseball at a whopping $224 million.
The Yankees, of course, are incredibly frustrating, especially when you cheer for the Blue Jays. Growing up, I watched the Yankees pound the crap out of the Jays over and over again, rolling into seasons in which there was no prayer of taking down the Evil Empire at the top of the American League East.
They made the playoffs 13 seasons in a row between 1995 and 2007, winning the AL East 10 times and the World Series four times. They gave the East some breathing room in 2008, missing out so the Tampa Bay Rays could finally have a chance to make the playoffs, then went right back at it in 2009 and captured another World Series.
2010-2016 are sort of purgatory years for the Yankees. The team was nowhere near as dominant as they were during their hay day, as Alex Rodriguez was exiled for PED usage, Derek Jeter’s corpse dangled at short, important core members like Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera retired, and some expensive free agent acquisitions didn’t pan out.
But now the Yankees are back. They’re in the American league Championship Series in a season that was supposed to be more downs than ups as they injected young talent into their roster. They’re rapidly turning into a new age version of the dominant team we loathed for the years, and they didn’t even have to go through a long, painful rebuild to get it.
That’s the most infuriating thing about the Yankees. They were so good for so long, and even when they took a step back, they weren’t even bad. Between 2010-2016, the years I suggested were purgatory, they won the division twice, made the playoffs four times, and never finished below .500.
They were solid, competitive but below their standards for a few years, and built up a farm system that consisted of Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Clint Fraizer, and so on over that time. In the next couple of years, they have a bunch of money owed to CC Sabathia, Chase Headley, A-Rod, and Brian McCann coming off the shelf and a free agency class that features Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw, and *gulp* Josh Donaldson right around the corner.
"The Yankees are gonna be a .500 team."— New York Yankees (@Yankees) October 12, 2017
"It's a rebuilding year."
"There's no way they overcome a 2-0 deficit."
WE'RE STILL HERE. pic.twitter.com/sjYYbs33pH
What am I getting at here? Nothing, really. Just, like, fuck the Yankees.
They enjoyed so much for so long and were supposed to fade into a period of darkness for it, because that’s how things are supposed to work. We enjoyed 2015 and 2016 after AA went all in, and as a result, the team is old and sort of bad. But the Yankees, the goddamn Evil Empire, don’t have to follow the rules. They got to be dominant for a decade-and-a-half, then they made us watch year-long Derek Jeter infomercials while they still competed for playoff spots with Carlos Beltran batting cleanup, and now they’re well on their way to being back on top.
Where was the period of darkness?! Was it CC Sabathia being meh? Was it Jacoby Ellsbury not living up to his contract? Jesus Montero? Michael Pineda? Ichiro? Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay? It wasn’t even bad! They certainly didn’t suffer enough to warrant this impending dynasty we seem to be on course to watching.
Whatever, it is what it is. The Yankees are good and they’ll always be good. There’s nothing anybody can do about it. But for fucks sake, let’s stop pretending this 200-million-dollar juggernaut loaded with expensive veteran talent and incredible young talent acquired from an expensive bureaucratic machine is some kind of underdog story. Nope. Nope. Nope. The Yankees are, and always will be the Yankees, and they should be treated as such.