The 2017 Yankees season felt peculiar because they were underdogs.
A team not expected to make the playoffs going all the way to game 7 of the ALCS with predominantly young players was unfamiliar territory for this franchise. For the first time since 1996, they exceeded expectations and were playing with very little pressure as underdogs.
That quickly changed once Brian Cashman acquired Giancarlo Stanton last December. Any feelings of goodwill toward the team from the average baseball fan quickly evaporated. The Yankees officially went from the hunter to the hunted this offseason. And on Wednesday night, everything will come full circle when the Athletics visit the Bronx in a do-or-die game.
This is the way it’s supposed to be, right? The big bad powerful Yankees at home against the underdog Athletics. Cashman, with every statistical, analytical, and financial resource at his disposal, going up against Billy Beane, the Moneyball folk hero who is a role model and inspiration to small market fans everywhere.
Neve rmind that the Yankees payroll is no longer in the top five in baseball. If you ask the average fan who has the highest payroll in 2018, I’m sure they would say the Yankees. They’d forget that the Yankees are under the luxury tax, and definitely forget that Beane, despite his genius reputation, has won one playoff series in 20 years as a General Manager.
No one outside of the tri-state area will be pulling for the Yankees on Wednesday. If the Yankees win, people will think they will have “bought the win” and if the Athletics win, they will be lauded for their grittiness, resourcefulness, and fearlessness. This is part of being a Yankees fan. The average fan and sports writer gives them zero credit when they win, and they shower the opponent in praise whenever the Yankees do go down.
On Wednesday night, everyone will be rooting for the upstart Athletics to upset the Yankees and send them golfing earlier than expected. And that’s exactly the way it should be.