Friday, October 7, 2011

Great Expectations

There's a big difference between hoping your team will win and expecting them to win.

I'm not plowing new ground when I point out a slight, shall we say, arrogance that comes with rooting for the New York Yankees. After all, the pinstripers have won 27 World Series and no other team has even played in more than 18. Plus, as we all know, New York is the center of the Western World (see familiar illustration).

Still, you couldn't help but notice the strange silence at Yankee Stadium as Game 5 of the American League Division Series went to the bottom of the 9th. The Tigers held a 3-2 lead, and the Yankees would be sending the heart of the order up against Tigers close Jose Valverde, who hasn't blown a save in 2011.

Time for the Stadium to turn into a howling cauldron of noise, right? Not so much. Despite TV's best efforts to find clapping, shouting fans in the stands, what we saw (and heard) was a pretty sedate scene. Compare that with what happened time and again at San Francisco's AT&T Park late this year--even when the Giants had been eliminated from playoff contention, even when the team was down by several runs. Noise, and lots of it.

The AT&T Park situation was so striking that broadcasters often commented on it and new Giants CEO Larry Baer made note of it in a postseason letter to season ticket holders. In San Francisco: hope. In New York: well, not hope. More like a sense of entitlement.

And once Valverde had 1-2-3'd the Yanks (frosting the cake by striking out Alex Rodriguez for the final out), did the assembled multitude stand and offer thanks for the Yankees' AL-leading 97-win regular season?

Fuhgeddaboutit. What have you done for me lately?

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