Here Come the Yankees


(Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

By Joseph Esposito

(Courtesy of Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

The New York Yankees have always been the team to beat; dominating baseball with 27 world championships. Notorious for spending big money to buy the best players, they have been despised by most. Last season was quite the exception.

Hoping to rebuild, General Manager Brian Cashman initiated a selling phase in 2016, trading away talented key players. Cashman then looked to the youth of the organization for the 2017 season. Led by the powerful or young bats of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Yankees were dubbed the “Baby Bombers.” At the start of that year, expectations were quite low as many saw it as a time to revamp the team. But as the playoffs approached in late September, it was clear that the Baby Bombers had far exceeded those early expectations.

The Yankees finished the regular season 91-71, performing far better than anyone had imagined. Judge, a rookie, hit the most homeruns in the American League (52) and became a face of the team. Talented players like Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorious brought excitement to the clubhouse with their passion and hopefulness. Simply put, the team was fun to watch.

I was able to bask in that fun while attending the American League Wild Card game, one nobody thought the Yankees would compete in at the start of the season. When the Yankees fell behind 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning and had to remove superstar Luis Severino, it seemed their run was over and their magic gone. In one of my favorite fan moments, Gregorious once again proved everyone wrong in the bottom half of the first inning when he hit a three-run homerun to tie the game.

The Yankees then went on to win that game, beating the defending American League champion Indians in a 5-game series and taking the Houston Astros 7 games. The Yankees weren’t supposed to make the playoffs in 2017. But despite expectations, they continued to impress, exceed expectations and awe fans all season long.

The 2017 Yankee season was one of the greatest sports adventures I have witnessed, and I loved every minute of it. Following a team of young talent that played with heart and then seeing them find success was truly satisfying. As a Yankee fan, one really doesn’t get to journey with the underdog. Seeing the underdog prevail is a fulfilling experience: last season allowed me to participate in that.

When the offseason came around, the Yankees did something extraordinary- they signed Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees went back to their roots by signing Stanton, arguably baseball’s best power hitter. He won the National League MVP award and hit the most homeruns in the game (59) in the 2017 season. Stanton will be joining Judge, Sanchez and Severino, a trio now seen as superstars to many after their outstanding performances.

By trading for Stanton, the Yankees inherited his $432 million contract: something the organization is familiar with doing. A part of this deal involved trading Castro, a player who brought great vitality to the Baby Bombers. They also let Todd Frazier walk, the man behind the rallying thumbs down movement.

The time of the Baby Bombers, in my eyes, is no longer. Sure, the Yankees still have a lot of youth on their team, but that is no longer the focus. In 2018, the Yankees will be all about money and power once again. Their starting lineup will consist of the American League and National League 2017 homerun champions, a fact that is truly remarkable. Add the talented bats of Sanchez, Gregorious and Brett Gardner, as well as the powerful arms of Masahiro Tanaka and Aroldis Chapman to the mix, and you have arguably the best team in baseball.

The emphasis has shifted from a young group of underdogs filled with hope to an all-star team of power, whose season is a loss if they don’t win it all. As a fan, I’m not happy about this change. For one, setting the bar so high would render even a relatively successful season a disappointment. Also, while it will be fun to watch Judge and Stanton aim to combine for 90 plus homeruns, seeing the Yankees walk into the playoffs will be boring.

Finally, this year I will not be able to experience the kind of fulfillment I did in the 2017 season watching a unique team turn energy into results. Last year’s group had something truly special, and in my eyes, that is gone.

While I am not happy about it, it is time to say goodbye Baby Bombers, here come the Yankees.