But nothing prepares a man for seeing a plucky, homegrown, and dare we say likable New York Yankees team. Somethings are simply too jarring to the senses to process immediately. After six heart-pounding postseason games, though, it’s clear — objectively and subjectively — that this Yankees team is different.
So with that in mind, I’ll make a public admission free of shame. I like this Yankees team. I do not feel dirty when they succeed. The Evil Empire has fallen. A rogue band of big dreamers who don’t know any better now roam the Bronx.
If they somehow capture the 28th World Series crown in franchise history, it won’t be like all the others. Few expect them to do that, but then again …
Few expected Joe Girardi’s team to climb out of an 0-2 series hole and stun the Cleveland Indians. Who could have seen this blistering three-game renaissance coming against arguably the most talented and feared team in all of baseball?
Who expected to see a manager own his mistake honestly and emotionally as Girardi did? Who expected a lithe shortstop to momentarily match Derek Jeter’s clutchness and popularity as Didi Gregorius has? Who expected a 6-foot-7 folktale caricature to come to life and trot out to right field as Aaron Judge does nightly?
The Yankees did not buy their way into the American League Championship Series. They carefully nurtured young talent and made savvy trades. They relied on guys like Aaron Hicks and Chase Headley. They relied on veterans believed to be on the downslope of their career arcs, like Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, and Todd Frazier.
Most nobly, they fought tooth and nail. Wednesday night’s victory was their fourth consecutive while facing elimination. There is something admirable about this team, something compelling and blue-collar. Something uniquely antithetical to the Yankees ethos.
If a man lives long enough, he’ll see everything. Even a, gulp, downright likable pinstriped crew making a serious case to become America’s underdog darling.
Weird times, man.