Eighteen years after my father watched Bucky Dent go over the wall, I sat beside him as Jim Leyritz turned around the 1996 World Series. Sentimental moments such as this separate me from other Yankee fans. Please allow me to elaborate as to why I belong in the 2012 MLB Fan Cave.
My idea of a good time is comparing Hall of Famers’ stats to those of Thurman Munson and Don Mattingly. Then I sit in amazement about how two guys considered to be the best player in baseball at different times will never be enshrined. What really makes me angry is how Derek Jeter didn’t win the AL MVP in 2006. Baseball writers portray the Yankees as corporate juggernauts who deserve to lose. They try every chance they can not to vote for the boys in pinstripes come award time. And more importantly, the same can be said when it comes to voting guys into the Hall of Fame. This social network, if you will, needs a fair voice. My voice is one that usually sits high above the bleacher creatures. But I’m usually watching at home in front of a Toshiba 40-inch HDTV. Sometimes I get stuck listening to the radio during another predictable day in corporate America. If I’m on a dinner date my seat is facing the television and you better believe the Yanks are on that screen. Heck, I was seeing Couples Retreat the night of 2009 ALDS Game Two when A-Rod finally came through. Always a defender of No. 13, my cell went off like a slot machine. I announced to a packed theatre the Yanks were going to win it all. When the Yanks are on the west coast I stay up as late as I can and get nervous to check the box score after my alarm wakes me. If they win, my day is off to a great start. If they lose, I know why. It is because I was not watching.
By being in the Fan Cave this season, I look forward to seeing every pitch of every game the Yankees play. While I am watching my team, my eyes will be gazing all over every other game. I will be watching when no name fantasy studs are born. I’ll also be watching when a contender becomes a pretender. The first season in which there will be a second wild card in each league is on its way. Pennant and wild card races will be like none we ever saw before. I remember being a fan of terrible Yankee fans pre-strike. Since then, however, my team has missed the playoffs only once and won five World Series titles. I cringe when customers come into my office with a Yankee hat and don’t know whether or not we won the night before. You’re either a fan or you’re an obsessed lunatic who belongs with the other crazies. Just please put me where I belong this season.
As I look forward to another promising season, three headlines keep racing through my mind.
Even though they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, the Yankees made a huge move last October. This was when Joe Girardi batted Robinson Cano third. Moving Cano up in the lineup instantly improved the Yanks’ offense. The last two seasons Cano finished sixth and third in the AL MVP voting. He had 118 RBI batting fifth through most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Now that he will be batting third, his RBI total should be north of 130 and home runs higher than 30. As long as his average is the usual, the 2012 AL MVP is Cano’s to win. This guy has the sweetest swing in the game and the best since Ken Grifey, Jr. He will not turn 30 until October and the sky continues to be the limit for baseball’s best second baseman. He wears No. 24 as a reversal of Jackie Robinson’s retired No. 42, whom Cano was named after. Cano should run away with his first MVP award but it will be far from the biggest headline coming from the Fan Cave this season.
Ryan Braun appeared to be one of the good guys. A three tool player was the obvious choice for the NL MVP last season. Some felt Matt Kemp was more deserving. However, he was playing for a team headed for bankruptcy. Braun, on the other hand, was playing for a team headed for the postseason. Then moments happen that show another side of the game. Dark moments like the Black Sox or Pete Rose betting on baseball. Since those moments sure thing first ballot Hall entries have tested positive for steroids. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Alex Rodriguez are few among the many. Add Ryan Braun to the list. He will begin the 2012 season on a 50-game suspension for testing positive with a PED. The testosterone levels were the highest in Braun than any previous player testing positive. This means that while Braun denies this, he may be the guiltiest of all time. He will forever be tainted as a guy who cheated. Brewer fans will have to defend their beloved franchise player the rest of his career. That’s the part with steroids in baseball that always seems to be forgotten. The fans that cheer for players who become known users get cheated.
Last season Derek Jeter reached 3,000 hits. Another season means another hope one of the most precious records in sports get broken. In 1941 Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games. The single season home run record, while tainted, took 37 years to fall from 1961 to 1998. As we approach the 61st season since Joe D did the unthinkable you can’t help but dream even his untouchable feat gets beat. Think about it. Sixty-one years have passed since 1941. Once another untouchable number, 61 used to stand alone. Fifty-six still stands alone but will it last forever?