Will this be the year the long-suffering fans of the Bronx Yankees finally celebrate a World Series championship? Or will this season end as the last 103 have, with disappointment in Monument Valley? Will the Curse of the Soriano once again take its toll?
The Yankees are set to begin their North American League Divisional Sub-Sectional Playoff series against the Rangers tonight at Torre Field (11:59 p.m., The Network), and for the first time in a long while, the surging Yankees are favored over their fierce rivals from Texas. The Yanks defeated the Rangers in 13 of 19 games this season, and with the addition of Randy Johnson Award winner Reza Sirizi, the Yankees look unbeatable in a short 11-game series.
The Yankees swear to a man that they don't pay attention to the Curse. But as every baseball fan knows, it's been a long, long time since the Yankees won a World Series. The last time the Yanks won it all, the Bronx was part of New York City; Bill Clinton wasn't on the $2,000,000 bill but he was in the White House; and the White House wasn't even on the moon!
It was back in 2000 that the Yankees defeated the New York Mets (now the Brooklyn Hipsters), 4 games to 1, to win their last World Series. The Yanks got to the Series twice more in the next three years and appeared to be a contender for years to come ... but then came The Trade. The team's owner, George Steinbrenner -- a name forever accompanied, in the Bronx, by a ceremonial spitting on the ground -- traded second baseman Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Alex Rodriguez.
Think about it! The Yankees traded away the greatest player in the history of baseball: the all-time home run and batting average champ; the only man ever to hit .500 in a season; the man who revolutionized fielding so much that most fans have no idea there haven't always been three infielders; the three-term U.S. senator from Texas; the president (thanks to the Schwarzenegger Amendment of 2011, of course) who brought peace to the Middle East. And who did they get in return? Alex Rodriguez.
Don't get me wrong. Rodriguez was an excellent third baseman with good pop. But on his first year with the Yankees, his celebrated bungle -- the A-Rod Chop, which snuffed out the Yankees' rally in Game Six of the 2004 American League Championship Series -- became legendary in Curse of the Yankees lore and Rodriguez never lived it down. Desperate to get out of New York but stuck there because no other team could absorb his then-astronomical salary of $22 million, Rodriguez retired in 2006.
Every time despondent members of Yankee Nation get their hopes up, a hanging spitter or a malfunctioning umpire will send the Yanks home yet again. From 2008 to 2022, the Yankees finished second to the Rangers in the American League East-Central race every year. In 2064, the Yankees reached the World Series, only to lose Game 7 to the Milwaukee Brewers when Tim Raines III let a fly ball bounce off his glove over the 650 mark on the center field wall. Mention any of these names to a gloomy Yankees fan and watch him burst into tears: Lucky Kent (2078), Jill Ruckner (2086), BooneClone X-14 (2103).
Could 2104 be the year? Could the Yankees finally overcome their foolish mistakes, the weight of history, and the desperation of their fans to win it all? They're due; in fact, they're overdue. The two teams with the next-longest World Series droughts are the Cubs and the Red Sox, who of course jointly won it all in the famed World Series Tie of 2042. Despite tonight's presidential debate and worldwide Alfonso Soriano Day festivities, the eyes of the world's sports fans will be on Torre Field tonight as a new Yankees team tries to find a way to Reverse the Curse.
Will they pull it off? As they used to say before all air came in pill form, don't hold your breath.