The Bronx Is Up. But Hold Off On The Ticker Tape.

When today’s MLB action is concluded, we’ll be a week into the essence of the 2024 baseball season (sorry, Dodgers and Padres fans, I still consider Korea an aberration, and eventually when the rest of the sport catches up you will, too.

So, naturally, it’s an opportune time to declare the season over.  Especially if you’re a New York baseball fan.

New York is uniquely obsessed with baseball even during the winter months, all the more so when the winter teams are terrible, as was often the case for the better part of the last few decades.  And even in a year where the Rangers lead the NHL in points and even the injury-riddled Knicks are clinging to home playoff advantage with mere days to go in their seasons (and, hey, shout out to the Islanders for a spirited last-ditch attempt to make the post-season themselves), baseball has dominated the mindset and back pages of the three tabloid dailies that still employ something resembling a staff of sportswriters.

So even the fact that the Yankees’ run at an unbeaten season ended last night with a thud in Arizona, their 5-1, division-leading start has their fan base giddy with excitement.  Remember this team barely finished above .500 and barely escaped finishing in last place last year.  And they traded a sizable percentage of their projected starting rotation for a one-shot chance at a generational talent who, in success, will demand an even higher average annual salary than Shohei Ohtani, and no deferrals into the next couple of decades will be possible.

Nothing added fuel to this particular fire more than the surprising and highly satisfying road sweep of the Yanks’ most recent arch-rival and post-season tormentor, the Houston Astros, which concluded in storybook fashion thanks to the effort of that rented generational talent, as CBS Sports’ R.J. Anderson wrote earlier this week:

The New York Yankees defeated the Houston Astros on Sunday by a 4-3 final (box score), completing the Opening Weekend sweep and securing the franchise’s first 4-0 start in more than two decades. Outfielder Juan Soto delivered the pivotal hit, notching an opposite-field single in the top of the ninth-inning against former San Diego Padres teammate Josh Hader.  Soto, the Yankees’ marquee offseason addition as part of a blockbuster deal with the aforementioned Padres, had three hits on Sunday. He leaves Houston having tallied a 9 for 17 weekend with a home run, four RBI, and three walks versus two strikeouts. Aaron Judge, new addition Jon Berti, and Jose Trevino. New York’s bullpen, meanwhile, combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Clarke Schmidt. 

And when they moved on to Arizona Monday night for a three-game set with another team that has created post-season nightmares for them, Anderson had even more to gush over:

The New York Yankees improved to 5-0 on the young season on Monday night, defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks by a 5-2 final (box score). This marks the first time in franchise history the Yankees have won their first five games of the season on the road. It also represents the fifth time overall in franchise history that the Yankees have started with a 5-0 mark.  The last time the Yankees started a season 5-0 came back in 1992, when they began the year with a 6-0 record. 

All this aside, Anderson’s final line of his Monday night summary was a sobering reminder of exactly how fragile and unpredictable a small sample size can be:

Alas, they failed to capitalize on their hot start, finishing the campaign with a 76-88 mark — or a 70-88 record after their impressive first week of action.

So perhaps it was fortituous that the D-Backs’ Zac Gallen cooled them off last night, and an outright repeat of ’92 isn’t possible.  And remember that the Yankees have not only still not played a single home game, they also haven’t played a single regular season game in the Eastern time zone just yet.

So maybe there’s upside that remains?

All I know is that I’d rather be in their fan base than the one that I’m in.  Because their cross-town rivals, who opened at home, are still winless, having lost three times to Milwaukee, once (in extra innings!) to Detroit and twice to rain.

Which means the infamous Stewie Griffin meme is reappearing all over my social media feeds.  Many of them are forwarded by Yankees fans.  Quelle surprise.

We’ll see where we both are in October.  But let’s just say my confidence right now is just a bit dampened.

Courage…

 

 

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