They’re the greatest franchise in American sports. They’re the juggernauts of the AL East. They’re the team that employed George Costanza. They are the New York Yankees.
I myself am a fan of the Bronx Bombers, so I think I’m qualified to imagine life in their absence. (And I’ll even try to be objective.) In a world without the New York Yankees…
…I Might’ve Had a Happier 2004
This is the year I got into baseball. My grandpa had always loved the Yankees, but I wasn’t hooked until I met several school chums who followed the same sport.
Bad timing on my part. Any baseball fan worth their salt (or infield dirt, as it were) remembers 2004 as the season the Boston Red Sox reversed the Curse of the Bambino and won the World Series. On their way, they surmounted a three-games-to-nothing series deficit against my beloved Yankees—the first such comeback in baseball history.
There are moments from October 2004 that still haunt me. Tony Clark’s ground-rule double. Johnny Damon’s Game 7 grand slam. My friends Jimmy, Jake, and Ben cackling like hyenas when the Sox finally won, making me wish I’d faked an illness to skip school.
If the Yankees didn’t exist, I might’ve been spared all this anguish. But, to quote the late great Yogi Berra, “You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you.”
…New Yorkers Would Have to Root for the New York Mets
Look, even Mets fans don’t want to root for the Mets. They’re either abjectly terrible or painfully close to (yet always short of) greatness. The recent injury to big-money closer Edwin Diaz is just another example.
To be fair, the Mets have appeared in the World Series more recently than the Yankees. But one of my best buds Jeremy is a Mets fan, and he’s currently reading a book about his team called So Many Ways to Lose. Its very existence proves my claim.
…The 50s Would’ve Been a More Interesting Baseball Decade
I’m a lifelong Yankees fan, but even I have to admit the 1950s must’ve been a boring time to watch baseball. During that decade, the Yankees appeared in eight World Series and won six of them. I’ve never even had that kind of success in video games, and I always play on rookie mode.
…The Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Rays Would Be More Relevant
Aside from the Red Sox, no other AL East team accomplishes much (usually because the Yanks double their payroll). Without the Yankees, the Orioles might have more championships than three, the Blue Jays might have more than two, and the Rays might have more than zero. Plus, all three teams might have more fans in general.
For example, the only Orioles fan I’ve ever met is my friend Cole. When people discover this, they all ask him the same question: “But why?”
…The World Would Lose a Beloved Folk Hero
I am, of course, referring to George Herman “Babe” Ruth, the man many consider the greatest baseball player of all time. As I alluded to earlier, the Red Sox infamously sold Ruth’s contract to the Yankees in 1919, kickstarting nearly a century of misery in Boston and glory in New York.
If the Yankees hadn’t existed and Ruth had remained a Red Sock, he might’ve continued primarily pitching, in which case he would’ve needed new nicknames, like “The Pitchino” or “The Thane of Throw.” They just don’t have the same ring.
…And What About the Candy Bar?
Without the Yankees there’s no Ruth, and without Ruth there’s no Baby Ruth candy bar. What a tragic loss!
JK, this would change nothing. In my life, I’ve met more Orioles fans than Baby Ruth fans.
…Sports Fans Would Lose a Bitter Enemy
Red Sox Nation hates the Yankees, as do pretty much all other fans. But deep down, they all know sports are better with rivalries. After all, how compelling would Star Wars be without the Empire?
…Pinstripes Wouldn’t Be a Thing
Other teams wore them first, but nobody wore them better. One of the earliest uses of the word in English came in The Canterbury Tales, proving beyond a doubt that even Geoffrey Chaucer was a Yankees fan.
…Judge Judy Would Still be the World’s Most Famous Judge
She had this title on lock in the 90s, and though Judy’s still famous, she carries a little less cachet these days. I mean, are people entering her court wearing judge outfits?
Nope. But they sure are for Yankees captain Aaron Judge. All rise.
…Joe Torre Would’ve Been Remembered as a Scrub
If you know baseball, you know Joe Torre. He led the Yankees to six World Series appearances, winning four of them (including three consecutive from 1998 to 2000).
Yet people forget that when the Yankees hired him in 1996, many considered Torre a failure. In fact, the previous three teams he’d managed had all fired him. The New York Daily News even went so far as to run this headline: “Clueless Joe.”
A sick burn, though one that hasn’t aged well. Good thing for Joe and us Yankees fans alike.
…I Might’ve Turned Out a Little Different
Growing up, my role model was Yankees shortstop and captain Derek Jeter. Not only was Jeter a Hall of Fame baseball player and leader—he was a genuinely good guy. I always strove to be like him (though the only time I played shortstop, I made three errors in one inning).
Without such a positive role model, who might young Kyle have idolized? The list is narrow and filled with fictional characters: Fox Mulder, Homer Simpson, and Gollum. Good thing Jeter existed.
…The World Would Be Far Less Interesting
Whether you love them or hate them, the New York Yankees are one of America’s defining franchises. And in a few short weeks, they’ll return for Opening Day. Here’s hoping this season doesn’t end with yet another painful elimination by the Astros.
Kyle A. Massa is a comic fantasy author living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His published works include three books and several short stories. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, running, and drinking coffee.
Originally published at https://kyleamassa.com on March 20, 2023.