Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Help
Remember When?
2005-04-13 04:47
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Like most Yankee fans, I have a special feeling for the Joe Torre teams of 96-01. But I'm not one to constantly compare every subsequent Yankee team to those squads. It just doesn't interest me. However, I was reminded of how winning they were when I wandered across Roger Angell's 1996 piece, "One for the Good Guys," last night:

The burden of [the] relentless and irrelevant P.R. during the Yankees' long struggles to regain their October form can at last be thrown aside--what a load it was!--and we are free to celebrate the new champions not for what they represented but for what they were: a competent though far from overpowering amalgam of engaging young stars and gritty hired guns who absolutely enjoyed themselves and each other during a succession of hairbreadth escapes in the late going, and were almost as entranced as the rest of us when they won. The Yankees--who'd have thought it--had become lovable.

Who, indeed? But if the team was lovable in 96, and admirable for the next five seasons, it was hard for non-Yankee fans to embrace them when all they did was win. Hell, it was hard for many Yankee-haters to like them in 96. Angell continues:

I mean, sophisticated old baseball cognoscenti with a fully developed, long-standing coolness toward the club in question...were absolutely turned around by six weeks' worth of terrific hometown ball. Not every New Yorker came over to these Yanks in the end, but the holdouts were rare and flinty of heart. Encountered in the elevator on the morning after Bernie Williams's eleventh-inning homer had beaten the Orioles in the first A.L. Championship playoff game, an upstairs neighbor of mine held up a warning hand when he saw my face and announced, "I hate the Yankees."

"But this Yankee team is different," I insisted. "Last night--"

"Fuck 'em," he said, and we finished the journey in silence.

The Yankees are easy to hate these days. Of course, Joe Torre is still around and he commands respect. But Bernie Williams is in the final days of his career; Rivera, Jeter and Posada are all veterans. Tino Martinez and Mike Stanton are back, but they are both role players at best. I don't compare the current team to the 1996 bunch, but I think it's safe to say that the Yankees won't be lovable again for a long time.

Comments
2005-04-13 06:30:19
1.   rbj
I think the key line is "absolutely enjoyed themselves and each other". That's more likely to happen when there are a bunch of young players on the team, for whom 6 hour bus rides are still fresh in their minds.
2005-04-13 07:18:22
2.   NetShrine
It's hard to be lovable after you've already won one or two. (Oustide, of course, of the city in which you play.)

Already, baseball fans across the land have had enough of the 2004 Red Sox.

People like to see a guy climb the mountain. They could care less about how he gets back down.

Only way the Yankees would be lovable winners again would be if they went 17 years without winning one and then won again. Just like in 1996.

2005-04-13 09:11:04
3.   Beth
how unimaginative that losing would make the yankees less lovable. if anything, i'd think it would make their story more interesting, and the team and fans more human.

but what do i know. i'm a red sox fan. and apparently everyone's sick of me and my team.

i could ask exactly what scientific poll was conducted to arrive at either this conclusion or the conclusion that no one loves the yankees. but honestly? i don't care what other fans across the land think of my team. and neither should a true fan of any team--yankees included.

2005-04-13 09:33:43
4.   Simone
"Only way the Yankees would be lovable winners again would be if they went 17 years without winning one and then won again. Just like in 1996."

Pretty much. There are few sports dynasties that are lovable.

2005-04-13 10:16:26
5.   Marcus
My love of the Yankees will never go away, but it'd be nice if I could watch a game without some Yankee Hater laughing or sneering at me every time Giambi strikes out or A-Rod makes an error. I doubt there are many Cubs/Royals/White Sox/etc. fans that have this problem.
2005-04-13 10:50:24
6.   Rob
teams aren't loveable, people are.. the yanks of those years had a collection of people that you wanted to root for. i think that's the key difference. they showed more emotion, fought, scraped and left it all out on the field.. or at least that's my perception. i don't get the chance to watch every day anymore, but it doesn't stike me that this team shows the emotion that those 96-01 teams showed.
2005-04-13 12:11:15
7.   Paul
It's important that people new to baseball fan-dom (and I've met a lot in Boston over the past 12 months) understand that the Yankees don't win the World Series every year. 1995's wild card spot felt like such a miracle, even if it ended in heartbreaking fashion in Seattle. I'll never forget the late season run by that 1995 Showalter-led team.

So what's my point? As a long time Yankee fan during dating back to the lean years of the late 1960s, I think these 10 straight years of post-season play are pretty remarkable, even if they haven't won the world series since 2000.

2005-04-13 12:45:45
8.   Patrick
Not sure what you mean... I love these guys!
2005-04-13 12:59:18
9.   soxeattle
"I doubt there are many Cubs/Royals/White Sox/etc. fans that have this problem."

Who is the victim, Marcus? Are you suggesting that Cubs/Royals/CHISOX fans don't dish out dirty looks? Or that they don't receive them? And why did you pick these teams?

Just curious... peace

2005-04-13 14:19:26
10.   Marcus
Nobody is a victim really. I picked those teams because I have friends who like them. They generally don't have to endure the scornful laughter that accompanies every small Yankee mistake on the field. There's a saying by Red Sox fans that they have two favorite teams: the Red Sox and whoever's playing the Yankees. I think nowadays that rule has applied to a lot more fans. It's all in good fun though, after all, it's just baseball.
2005-04-13 14:51:03
11.   Dan M
I think what Marcus is saying that when non-Yankees teams make mistakes - either on the field or in the market - you don't have a bunch of idiots at espn.com making fun of them.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.