Pity the poor Yankee fan. For the past 48 hours, since Alex Rodriguez struck out looking to send — Schadenfreude alert! — his former Texas Rangers ballclub to its first World Series berth in franchise history, the atmosphere around Yankee fans has been funereal. We wanted another Fall Classic appearance; we wanted another trophy; and we’re going to mourn our loss like it’s nobody’s business.
Since the game ended, the Yankees have gotten it on all sides as the haters have come out of the woodwork. You have your “told you so” folks who just knew the Yankees wouldn’t win. You have your commentators examining the team with a fine-toothed comb to find the flaws in every player. You even have your displaced Orioles-fan Marylanders fans who live in New York City but take special glee in a Yankee playoff loss. Even as we realize that the Yankees were outplayed by a very good Texas team, we know that theonly people sad this weekend were the Yankees and their fans.
And Major League Baseball.
As the league office reminded the media this weekend, the two 2010 League Championship Series were the most-watched series in the past three years, and the ALCS was TBS’ most successful. “The 2010 ALCS was the most-watched LCS on TBS since the network began airing the round in 2007 averaging 8.22 million viewers,” the release said. “Game 6 of the 2010 ALCS registered 11.86 million viewers making it the second most-viewed baseball game ever on cable television beating the game where Mark McGwire tied Roger Maris for the most home runs in a season on ESPN on September 7, 1998 (10.62 million viewers). Only the 2008 ALCS Game 7 between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays registered more viewers (13.36 million) on cable.”
Everyone, it seems, loves the bad guys. While most of those millions were rooting for the bad guys to lose, as long as the bad guys are still around, baseball enjoys its popularity. No one likes the Yankees, but where would be without them?
As the Yanks’ own 2010 season draws to a close, we can look back at a successful year and shouldn’t let the dull finish in the ALCS ruin the fun we had. We watched the Yankees win 95 times this year, and only two teams in all of baseball enjoyed more victories. A Major League-best 3,765,807 fans saw the team win 52 of their 81 home games, and on the road, Yankee games averaged a league-best 34,939 fans per game. Overall, the Yanks’ average per-game attendance of 40,715 was best in the game by nearly 2000 fans. Everyone loves the bad guys.
On the field, we had our memories. On April 22, the Yankees turned their first triple play since 1968. Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter banged out some inside-the-park home runs. Jorge Posada tied a career high with three stolen bases. Robinson Cano came into his own, hitting .319 with a .914 OPS, and he could be due for some post-season hardware. Alex Rodriguez launched his 600th career home run. CC Sabathia won 21 games. Mariano Rivera sported a 1.80 ERA at the age of 40.
Of course, we saw our fair share of frustrations too. Derek Jeter, playing out the final year of his contract, turned in a down season. Mark Teixeira struggled through a dreadfully cold start and an injury-plagued finish. A.J. Burnett couldn’t turn his stuff into outs, and Javier Vazquez flat-out lost his stuff. But over the course of 162 games, the bad will come with the good.
So this year, we won’t get a parade or a trophy. We won’t get 11 wins in October and November. We won’t have the joys of seeing 27 turn into 28, and we won’t get back-to-back titles for the first time since 2000. We’ll get the hate and the gloating, but we’ll always have the Yankees. Most fans love to hate the bad guys, but we just love ‘em through thick and thin. Here’s to 2010. It didn’t end as we wanted it to, but it was a very good year.