Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Did We Do Last October?

The Yankees have only been away from the postseason for one year, but the excitement in New York for tonight’s ALDS Game 1 seems different than in recent years. For as long as vivid memories allow, the month of October has been tantamount to Yankees baseball in my mind. Over time, unfair expectations have scoured away some of the fun and repeated early exits from the postseason have resulted in bitterness from Yankees fans. With the historic (and at times, frustrating) Joe Torre postseason era finally in the rear-view mirror and a fun-loving 103 win team firmly employed, anticipation for the 2009 postseason has a refreshingly positive vibe.

Every year, I start a countdown from 11, representing the number of games it will take for the Yankees to take home another championship. Sadly, that number has only dwindled into single digits once since 2004, when the faltered in game 5 of the 2005 ALDS. During the 2009 season, everything has felt so new. There is a new stadium, a new core group of players, new post-game traditions (walk-off pies!), a relatively new manager and for the first time since the early ‘00’s, I really believe that my postseason countdown is going to last for more than a week.

In the 3,267 days since the Yankees hoisted championship trophy No. 26, I have had the opportunity to grow up and reflect on what being a fan of a sports team means to me. I really do expect the Yankees to win another championship this year, but I finally realize that regardless of high payroll, high expectations, history of excellence, I will have enjoyed this team thoroughly – win or lose.

The Yankees go into their first round matchup as major favorites and I truly believe they will live up to the expectations and beat the Twins in 3 games. In the second round, I have a feeling that the Yankees will have their tradition ALCS showdown with the Red Sox and it will go the distance. I like the Yankees in 7 games. In the World Series, the Yankees should take down the Cardinals in 5 and the championship drought will be over. I will finally be able to take my fiancé to the tickertape parade that I promised I would take her to after we arrived too late for the celebration way back in the year 2000.

I have a feeling that many Yankees fans have similar predictions. While opposing fans will view it as "typical New York arrogance," it is simply faith in a team that has given us a season full of amazing memories. The journey to championship No. 27 begins tonight and the buzz is palpable. It just leaves me wondering – what did we do last October?

Nick will drop in later with his reflections on this season and his thoughts on the 2009 postseason.
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