I was fortunate to be a Yankee fan born in 1988. My first full year watching baseball in 1995 with my brother the Yankees had a solid team that fell short. Of course at that age you don't feel any pain or disappointment because "it's just a game." The following year the Yankees won the whole thing. I'll never forget jumping up and down in the living room way past my bed time as Charlie Hayes caught that foul ball to seal the deal. Even in 1997 I didn't feel pain since baseball was still a "fun" thing for me to watch. The next 3 years I would get spoiled beyond belief, blessed with 3 championships that as a young fan I didn't deserve compared to the pain of long Cub or Red Sox fans. I remember the thrill of watching that 1998 team just mow down opponent after opponent, game after game with ease. I remember that 1999 team sweeping the Braves with ease defeating them once again in the World Series. I remember the buzz around school the following year when the Subway Series came and how thrilled I was to still have bragging rights after that series was over.
Then it all came to a crashing halt on November 4, 2001. It was a hard series, a long series. After the horrific events that just happened it was amazing to see all the people rallying around the Yankees. Compared to what happened the month before baseball didn't matter at all. It's a silly game that helps us escape reality. With that said I still wanted the win more than ever and to be honest, in my own fault - I expected it. From watching baseball from age 7 to 12 and seeing my team win 4 times, winning was all I knew. As I said earlier I was spoiled beyond belief. I'll always remember right before Rivera took the mound that ninth inning getting a sick feeling in my stomach. It didn't make sense, Rivera is practically a sure thing, I had no reason to feel ill but I did. Sure enough the game would end in a Yankee lose on a bloop single that still replays in my head. I'll always remember screaming and crying as I walked upstairs from the basement. I'll remember that long sleepless night that ensued. For the first time since I became I fan I was experience real pain as a Yankee fan.
After that the years just seemed to fly by with more pain, except with each one that passed I truly grew to appreciate what I was lucky enough to witness as a kid. 2002 felt like it ended way to soon with an early exit from the playoffs. 2003 gave me one of the best series (ALCS) and games (Game 7 ALCS) that I have ever seen. Unfortunately that series took so much out of the Yankees and they were no match for the Marlins. That series left me more angry than sad, I'll always remember my brother picking me up from my friends house that night and us just screaming the entire way home.
2004 really brought me to my knees. I remember running around the house when the A-Rod trade news broke, feeling that there was no way they weren't going to win the WS. I remember laughing as the Yankees killed the Red Sox in Game 3 of that ALCS. The rest is history. Nothing can ever be worse than that for me as a sports fan. That was my hell.
2005, 2006, and 2007 were similar to 2002 for me. First round exits and big disappointments. Those years didn't so much hurt, after 2004 it was hard to hurt more than that, but they just gave me feelings of hopelessness. Strangely enough I expected 2008 to be a horrible year going in so it wasn't that bad for me. I just tried to enjoy the last year of a stadium that held so many great memories to me.
2009 immediately felt different. After the offseason the Yankees had I expected them to win the World Series. Anything less will be utter failure and bitter disappointment. I have felt that this is the year that closes the chapters on those painful and disappointing years from 2001 to 2008. This is where the Yankees win their 27th championship. Baseball is more than a game for me, somewhere along the line it stopped being fun or enjoyable. However, I appreciate the great things I see in this game a lot more now with that approach.
I guess what I was trying to get at in this entire long post (and thank you for reading it all if you did) is that as a Yankee fan I was extremely fortunate to see more championships in-between 7 and 12 than most people see their team win in a life time. After going through crushing defeats in 2001, 2003, and 2004 and huge disappointments in the other years, I have always known one thing will be true. When the Yankees do eventually win that 27th World Series Title, it will be worth every ounce of pain I have felt. I will appreciate this title more than anything I have ever appreciated in sports. I will count my blessings and thank the sports gods for another title that as a fan I probably don't deserve but will accept with open arms. The sweetness factor of this title will be worth an infinity. I don't want to wait for that title any longer. I don't need to learn anymore lessons to appreciate that title the way I should. Get it done this year Yankees.
No offense intended, if you started watching baseball in 1995 and you've been a Yankee fan all those years, you don't have slightest concept of what "pain" is.
Your team has the resources to go buy whomever it wants, whenever it wants, and has a sex appeal that only the Dodgers can compete with. Players everywhere dream of what it would be like to wear the pinstripes. Heaven forbid the Yankees make the kind of mistake(s) that would cripple other teams' payrolls and flexibility? No problem...just hose it off and go buy someone else. I'm not begrudging them doing this, BTW...the Yankees aren't doing a single thing wrong...they're operating within the rules of MLB and they're paying a luxury tax for doing so. The game needs a cap with a ceiling AND a floor (at least the Yankees use their resources, unlike some other teams who barely even try...that's why the game desperately needs a cap with a hard floor), but that's a debate for another day.
"Pain"?! C'mon man! Your team is practically a lock to make the playoffs every single year, and that's something you shouldn't take lightly. MLB is not like the NHL, where making the postseason season after season isn't nearly as difficult as it is in MLB. The regular season has almost become kind of a preseason for you. Even though recent postseasons haven't worked out for you, and yeah, some of them have been tough, you're still going to the dance, season after season after season, with the lone exception of last season of course.
You want to know about pain? Try being a Mets fan. Our team is an embarrassment on and off the field, and from the ownership to the front office. Regardless of how fans feel about your team's spending the cash, at least when your team senses an opportunity they'll go all the way...unlike my team. Your team plays every season with one goal and one goal only...to win the World Series. My team plays for "meaningful games in September"...which we got in 2007 and 2008, and they sure were meaningful in the worst possible way. The Yankees have had their share of dark days (I graduated high school the year you were born, and the late 80s-early 90s Yankees were as much laughingstocks then as the Mets are now), but their best days far far FAR outweigh the embarrassing ones. I just hope you appreciate how lucky you are and what you've got. As much as you think you might know what "pain" is in a baseball sense, trust me...you don't. Count your blessings.