Let’s Go, Yankees!

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There is nothing like “serious October baseball” for fans


  • At the Big Ballpark in the Bronx. Photo: Jon Friedman

On Wednesday night, Yankee Stadium will be the center of the universe in New York City. The Yankees, fresh off a glittering 100-victory regular season, host the upstart Oakland A’s in the American League Wild-Card smackdown, in game no. 163.

The home team has some unfinished business.

Last year, the overachieving Yankees squandered a 3-2 series lead to the Houston Astros and failed to make it to the World Series. A hush came over the city’s sports scene and it has lasted.

What else do New York fans have to celebrate? The lamentable Mets? The horrible Giants and Jets? The ever-rebuilding Rangers and the always-terrible Knicks? The beyond-dull Nets? (The Islanders and Devils don’t even count.)

There is nothing like — as the witty host Steve Somers of WFAN likes to put it — “serious October baseball” in Yankee Stadium. With respect to the venerable Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium, those places are like camping out, Ivy, Green Monster and all.

Yankee Stadium reeks with glorious tradition. The post-9/11 World Series home runs by Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius ((FIXED SP)) to save the day in 2001, Derek “Mr. November” Jeter’s game-winning home run also in 2001, Reggie Jackson’s three home runs — on successive pitches — against the Dodgers to win the World Series in 1977, and Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956, to name but a few.

Chill, Cubs fans. Remember, your super fan, Steve Bartman, gave the team such bad karma during the National League playoffs in 2003 that it blew a big lead and failed to win its series, costing the tem a play in the World Series. By contrast, young Jeffrey Maier, sitting in the front row of the right-field bleachers, impulsively intercepted Derek Jeter’s fly ball in the American League playoffs in 1996 and turned a sure out into a go-ahead homer.

To recap: A Cubs fan helps to cost his team a playoff game. A Yankee fan helps his team win one.

Yankee Stadium is The Big Ballpark in the Bronx, The House That (Babe) Ruth Built. It is a baseball cathedral. The Oakland A’s, an excellent team of mostly young, anonymous players that has boasted the best record in Major League Baseball since the late spring, plays in a stadium designed first for pro football and its chief inhabitants, the Oakland Raiders.

Somers of WFAN, a native of the Bay Area, likes to needle Oakland fans by calling the stadium, The Mausoleum, a play on words from its origins as the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. Yes, the A’s have won more World Series since the 1970s (four) than any other franchise except one — the Yankees, of course (with seven). But the A’s have won one since the Earthquake World Series of 1989. The Yankees have captured five since 1996.

If the Yankees-led Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez and Luis Severino team wins the World Series this year or in the near future, the franchise will step out of the long shadow of the Derek Jeter-Mariano Rivera-Andy Pettitte-Jorge Posada “Core Four” and establish a legacy of its own.

Hey, the Yankees haven’t won the World Series since 2009. That seems like a lifetime ago in the Bronx. It’s time for a new crown.

Before the baseball year commenced, I picked the well balanced Houston Astros to repeat as baseball champs. My head is in Houston. My heart is in the Bronx, “yes, thonks.”

Jon Friedman writes the Public Eye column.

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