In the latter part of the 20th century, Yankee Pride reached a fever pitch. After all, the Bronx Bombers just wrapped up their third straight World Series – their fourth in five years. They were the most dynamic baseball team since the late 70s, with a core of young players and veterans that helped put the finishing touches on the most dominant team of the 90s – truly a fitting end to the millennium for the Game’s most storied franchise.
However, just like the Roman Empire, all good things must come to an end. That happened in 2001, when the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks dethroned the New York Yankees in what would be one of the most thrilling Fall Classics in recent memory. And as such, Yankee Pride waned. The fan base was strong, perhaps strongest in baseball, but even it was not impervious to the inevitable regression of a team. Most fans stayed after Luis Gonzales roped a liner over the heads of an (inexplicably?) pulled in infield in 2001. A few more jettisoned after 2003, when a 14 year old Josh Beckett skipped his prom to toss a complete game shutout on three days rest to thwart the attempts at number title number 27.
But it was 2004 that rid Yankees nation of all the faux-hards, when the Red Sox helped the Yankees complete the most epic collapse of all time in the history of collapses of the epic persuasion. On the strength of Johnny Damon’s beard and Kevin Millar’s tenacity, did the die-iest of the die hards reconsider their love for the Yankees.
(Now I know there are a group of Yankee fans who never stopped loving their beloved boys in pinstripes. And it’s fair to say that a vast majority of those fans were on board before 1996 and never got off. But this being a Phillies website, and for all intents and purposes, the Yankees are now our mortal enemies. So, I’m going to ignore that.)
Hence, I say “Welcome back!” We’ve all missed you. It’s been a while, but you can finally climb aboard the Yankees train and root on your beloved 25 as they go for their 27th World Series title. But a lot has changed since 2004, which is why I’m here; to ease you back into things.
I give you the definitive bandwagon jumper guide to the 2009 New York Yankees…
You see that guy in left field? That’s Johnny Damon. Yes, THAT Johnny Damon. The same one that more or less ended your courtship with the Yankees after he hit a grand slam in game seven of the 2004 ALCS. He is now on your team, and not because he lost a bet. He willfully signed with the Yankees, so don’t throw garbage at him. With an assist from @valerieduhaime
CC Sabathia – No, that’s not the same of a sandwich in an Italian deli. He’s actually your game one starter. He won the Cy Young two seasons ago, and was instrumental in dismantling the title hopes of the 2007 Yankees. He’s a hefty fella, so don’t be put off by the pajama bottoms that he calls his uniform.
AJ Burnett – He’s new to the team. You might remember him from the 2003 Marlins squad that toppled the Yanks in their last trip to the Fall Classic. He can be good, but be can also be pants-shittingly bad. His tattoos are the most interesting thing about him, and that’s not saying much.
Nick Swisher – He is the Kramer of the team, minus the racism.
Robinson Cano – Not the same guy who was marooned on that island. He plays second base, just like Chuck Knoblauch. (Oh, and you don’t want to know about what Chucky has been up to. Let’s just say one of his erratic throws landed on his wife’s face.)
Derek Jeter – Certainly you remember him, right? Well, Jeets is back up to his old tricks. He will finish in second place in the MVP voting for the second time in three seasons to a Twinkie, except this time, he actually deserves the silver medal. So far in October, he’s either made 15 great defensive plays (if you ask Tim McCarver), or he’s made one (if you ask anyone else).
Melky Cabrera – It’s totally not a made-up name.
Joba Chamberlain – In 2007, he was the second coming of Mariano Rivera. Now? Somewhere between the second coming of Rob Dibble and Eric Nies. Also, he used to look like this.
Andy Pettitte – He’s b-a-a-a-ck! He played for the Houston Astros for a few seasons, then he admitted that he used HGH with Roger Clemens. Speaking of The Rocket, he played for the Yankees two seasons ago, but he flamed out (get it?) and has replaced Barry Bonds as the poster boy for PEDs, and Tucker Max as the world’s biggest douche.
Hideki Matsui – He has a penchant for porn. Seriously. His skin collection is rivaled only by that of the late Bob Crane and Ray Romano.
Joe Torre – He was ousted after 2007, when the Yanks were bounced from the first round of the playoffs by the Cleveland Indians. He now manages the Los Angeles Dodgers. Larry Bowa and Don Mattingly are on his bench, and Manny Ramirez is his cleanup hitter. Mind. BLOWN.
Chad Gaudin is your number four starter. I’d make a joke here, but that would only be redundant.
Alex Rodriguez – After 2004, A-Rod went on to go something like 1 for 80 over the next three seasons in October play. At one point, he was relegated to hitting eighth. He would have hit ninth, but the Yankees had that blind guy playing left, so. He would spend the next three seasons having monster Aprils and meek Octobers. Earlier this season, it was revealed that he failed a drug test in 2003, which is absolutely meaningless considering that in 2003, even the umpires were juicing. He’s since shed his prima donna image (along with Madonna and her snake arms), divorced his wife, nailed a stripper (allegedly), and is now seeing Kate Hudson, who has gone on to star in one Dane Cook movie (he’s popular now) and two Matthew McConaughey movies. Also, A-Rod is hitting something like 1.345 in the playoffs. Yes, his batting average is north of 1.000. That’s what happens when you managed to get 45 hits in 32 at-bats.
Joe Girardi – He’s no longer the catcher – he is now the manager. But don’t worry, he carries the same disdain for the bullpen that Joe Torre did. With an assist from @kierankelly
Jorge Posada – He’s still peeing on his hands. The disturbing thing is that he does it during the games now. Most of the players don’t mind, but Joe West is straight up creeped out by it.
Chien-Ming Wang – Two years ago, he won 19 games. Last year, he hurt his foot while strolling home from third, and this season, he was the founding member and sole contributor of the “Give a fuck-load of homers up to David Eckstein” fund.
Benji Gustavo Gus Yadier Pablo Charleston Jose Molina – He catches.
Mark Teixeira – This Gold Glove first baseman spits in the face of phonetics and pronounces it “Tee-Share-Uh.”
Phil Hughes/Coke – There’s a difference?
Eric Hinske – Say hello to your left-handed bat off the bench. He has exactly one more World Series ring and two more appearances than your three of your five highest paid players.
Mariano Rivera – He’s trained his cutter to scream “fuck you” as it approaches home plate.
Well, that’s about it, Yankees fans. All you need to know about the 2009 squad.
Oh, and you should probably know that the Yankees are now playing across the street, so don’t be surprised when you show up to game one being played on a pile of rubble.
See you in Game One.
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