October 2011

Grieving of a Yankees Fan

It’s been quite some time since my last post, and of course school is partially to blame for that. The big reason is because I’ve been mourning – mourning the end of the 2011 season. Every year you don’t win the World Series, it ends this way: losing. It happens more often than not, though the Yankees were lucky enough to come out on top more than any other franchise. If it occurs more than it does not, then why am I taking it so hard this season?

I’ve been contemplating this since October 6, and still I am empty handed.

As I’ve said throughout the entire 2011 season, nobody really expected the Yankees to win it all this season. There were too many question marks. And I remember trying to convince myself that I wouldn’t be too disappointed if they lost. I thought I had myself fooled.

I was wrong.

I think it hurts so much this year because my Yankees were the underdogs. People didn’t have high expectations, and the Yankees surprised them. This season was so magical, and I hoped the magic would continue and carry them to #28. It didn’t happen, and I still can’t believe that it is over. In that ALDS game 5, they came so close. I’d rather they had been blown out.

It’s tough knowing that baseball is going on without the Yankees in the mix of it. To me, the offseason starts when the Yankees are done. I know this postseason has been exciting, but it really doesn’t do anything for me.There’s no emotional attachment to any other teams, to any other players, so I don’t feel personally involved. Sure, I’m picking the Cardinals to win because they were my NL choice (I hoped for Yankees vs. Cardinals World Series) when they made it into the playoffs, but to think I’m going to sit down and watchthis Rangers vs. Cardinals World Series with enthusiasm? It’s just not going to happen.

Though it’s not easy, things are getting a little better with time. That loss is becoming farther and farther behind. Every once in awhile, I have a bad day, and the same questions and hypotheticals bombard my mind: “Why couldn’t Jesus Montero play?” “If only Jeter’s long fly in the 8thof game 5 went over the wall…”

If only…

I’m hoping that once the playoffs are over and the holidays are getting closer, I won’t be thinking as much about baseball and my grieving will be over. I’m just wondering how much is left. Here’s what I’ve been through so far:

1) Denial

Even though I knew that game 5 meant being on the brink of elimination, I never really thought the Yankees would lose. They were at home, they had rookie sensation Ivan Nova on the mound, and they were coming off an incredible victory that was courtesy of A.J. Burnett’s step-up performance. It just didn’t seem possible that it would end right there. I was thinking about the ALCS, and the fact that Jesus Montero would get playing time because the Rangers have so much left handed pitching, which he kills. Even when the Yankees were behind, Ithought they’d come back. Joe Girardi managed to keep the opposing offense off balance for most of the night by piecing together the innings with different pitchers, and I thought they were destined to win. When they were down in the 9th with Granderson, Cano, and Rodriguez due up, I was thinking about a walkoff pie. Thoughts of failing were quickly brushed away, and when it happened, I entered stage two.

2) Shock

Alex Rodriguez’s pathetic strikeout ended the season for my Yankees. All of a sudden, I was taken back to one year ago, where I was sitting downstairs with my brother while we were semi-watching Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS against the Rangers. A-Rod stood there looking as the called third strike sailed by, sending the stadium into a celebratory frenzy. I didn’t know how to react, so I threw my shoe at the TV and stormed upstairs. 2011 was a little different. After A-Rod struck out, I really didn’t know what to do. I stood there in disbelief and wondered if what I was seeing really happened, thinking, “There has to be another inning, right? It’s not over.”

It was.

I pleaded to myself, “NO! This isn’t right.” It began to sink in that the season was over, that the Yankees lost, and that I wouldn’t see them for a long time. My emotions then began to boil over.

3) Anger

Once I realized it was all real, I was livid. I tried to find something, someone to blame. The barrage of cursing made my brothers laugh a little, but I was in no mood for laughter. I thought of perhaps just going to bed, but I knew I was too pissed to sleep. I logged in to facebook, where I chatted with a friend who too was experiencing the same stage of the grieving process. Then the angry statuses emerged from myself and many Yankees fans. Mine was directed at A-Rod, and let’s just say it wasn’t very ladylike. But who can maintain their composure in a time like this?

4) Sorrow

This is by far the hardest stage to deal with, and the one that reemerges randomly. When I finally decided to go to bed after venting on facebook for a few hours, I cried a little. The fact that it was October and I wouldn’t be able to watch a real game until April was too much to bear. That’s a long time. Past the holidays, past winter, and well into my second semester. It seems that it will never come. I wore my Brett Gardner jersey to school the next day anyway, because he was one of the only guys who actually performed well in the postseason. Some kids scowled at me, saying, “Why are you wearing that today? They lost.” Obviously I didn’t need to be reminded. Randomly on that Friday I felt the tears well up. I went to the lounge where my friend, my fellow facebook venter, and I sat in remorse. I told him I had cried a bit, and then almost started to right there before I pulled myself together. He was just as devastated, and we talked about the “if onlys” of that fateful game 5. We were mad, but by this time the sorrow had definitely taken precedence. My friend rolled up his sleeve and rubbed his Yankees tattoo, and said, “Always and forever.”

5) Hopefulness

Although I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I did, it was helpful for me to know I was not mourning alone. Discussing sorrows with another who knows what you are feeling is a healthy way to keep moving forward. He was right: “Always and forever.” No matter what, we Yankees fans will remain fans. After a while, I began to think about what I thought all season: that if the Yankees didn’t make it, I wouldn’t be too disappointed, because it was a surprise that they even made it that far anyways. And my friend had a point that for some reason comforted me. He said that just because they lost didn’t mean they weren’t the best team. All throughout the season, the Yankees have lost a series here and a series there. They just so happened to lose when it counted most. They still put together an amazing season as AL East champs with the best record in the AL. How can you argue with that? Especially when the Phillies were knocked out when everyone thought they would win it all? He’s right. The postseason is a crapshoot. It didn’t go our way this time, but maybe next season it will.

I’d like to take this time to thank my boys:

Yankees, I know you have been eliminated for almost two weeks now, so hopefully you are getting over it as I am. I just want to thank you once again for an amazing season. It seems that with each new season, I feel even more excited and intense. Though time for blogging is scarce, I make sure to watch you every night. You guys are such a part of my routine and my life, that I don’t know what to do without you. That is why the offseason is so hard. I don’t want you to misunderstand: I’m not upset because you lost. I’m upset because it’s over and other baseball is still going on. The farther you guys go, the quicker I get to welcome you into my home again. I hate not seeing you more than anything. You guys are family to me since you are always in mylife. And as each season gets more intense for me, each offseason gets harder. I want you to know that I am extremely proud of what you have accomplished this season. You have exceeded my expectations and have blown my mind.

Congrats on yet another incredible season, Yanks. It didn’t end the way I wanted, but we’ve got a whole lot to smile over. The future is looking mighty bright, my boys.

I’ve got April 6th circled on my calendar.

Yankees, rest up, relax, but stay in shape. Enjoy the offseason and the holidays, and come back to me driven and ready to start the Chase for 28.

I know I’ll be ready.

Still In Disbelief

The last time I posted was September 6th. Although I haven’t been active with the blog, I have remained active in watching baseball. I’ve come to the conclusion that 2011 has been the single-most surprising season that I have ever watched – and that I might EVER see. I still can’t believe that anything I’ve seen in the past month has actually happened.

So remember way back when I said I’d still have time to blog and that the college workload didn’t kick in yet? Well, it kicked in. Big time. Commuting is tough. But I’m glad I don’t live at my school, because they don’t have the YES Network! I wouldn’t be able to survive. Although now, the games are nationally broadcast because IT’S THE POSTSEASON! DAHH! How did this happen?

Last time I posted, the Yankees had a slim but solid 2.5 game lead over the Red Sox, who possessed a seemingly-insurmountable 7 game lead over the Rays in the Wild Card. I’m sure any conscious baseball fan is aware of what happened next: that Red Sox lead began to dwindle, while the Yankees and Rays kept on climbing.

Although I witnessed it all happening, I never really processed it, and I still can’t wrap my mind around it. What happened? The Yankees finished with the best record in the AL. Now I love my boys, but that stat surprises me. The Yankees are the best team in the American League, with all the question marks they have? The Rays made it in to the postseason on the last day of the regular season despite trailing all year long? And the Red Sox – the anointed World Champions – went 7-20 in this past month, failing to even make it into the playoffs? And their pitching had a 7 – something ERA over that stretch? And the Yankees pitching was good? It shouldn’t be a surprise. The Yankee pitching was beyond “good” all season long. But for them to have held up, and the Sox to have fallen…it’s incredible. Only in this game will something like this ever happen.

It still pains me that I missed blogging about so many things that happened in this month. In the spare amounts of time I had to write a blog, I had to do it for my PHILOSOPHY class…yeah. Blogging for class. The “class participation and engagement blog.” 10 percent of my grade for that class. And considering that philosophy isn’t easy (How do we know we exist? What? I’m right here!), I have to do well on that part.

As always, the season ends too quickly. I enjoyed the last week of regular season play, in which my Yankees took things easy, rested, and contributed to the Red Sox collapse. It’s fun not worrying whether they win or lose. But after awhile, both they and I begin to itch for that intensity…

So here’s the postseason. ALDS. Yankees vs. Tigers. Set to start on a Friday. I was excited. This week was long and strenuous, and I wanted to come home and relax in front of my boys. But actually, there was no way that was going to happen. I probably would have fallen asleep, despite the adrenaline of the postseason. Already being exhausted, and then exerting so much energy watching the game…don’t think I would have made it through last night. Nevertheless, I was still annoyed when the game was postponed in the 2nd inning. But maybe it’s for the best…maybe the Yankees and I will be more ready for the resumed game tonight. Sure, CC’s not pitching, but neither is Verlander. It’s gonna be a good matchup tonight.

I just want to say a few things to my Yanks: Yankees, I want to thank you for an amazing season. I know it’s not over yet, and I know you will play to your fullest potential to reach your goal. I honestly never expected this much from you this year. Best record in AL? Despite everything? I’m still in disbelief. I never thought you’d be where you are right now. But since you are here, I want you to win. You have shown me what it means to be strong, to fight the odds, and to play like a real team should (as opposed to the Red Sox who sit around and get drunk during games). I love you. I’m still processing everything that’s happened this year. I do believe you can win, though when I think about it, I don’t know how. On paper, surely, you are not the best team.

But paper can’t measure heart.

Good luck in this Chase for 28. I’ll be watching.

GO YANKEES!

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