It's A Weird/Confusing/Awkward/Exciting/Surreal Time To Be A Yankee Fan
Since the day I was born, the New York Yankees have been a perennial powerhouse in Major League Baseball. That year, in 1996, the Yankees won the World Series. It was the first time they had won it since the 1978 season. Older fans that year got to witness the end of drought that lasted for, what seemed like, forever. Especially for Yankee fans. Not only did the Bombers end an 18 year World Series drought the year I was born, but by the time I was five they had won three more. Before I was even out of diapers (it took me longer than most toddlers to make that transition, judge me not), my hometown Yankees had gone from an underdog to one of the greatest dynasties the sports world had ever seen. After their historical three-peat from 1998-2000, the success of the team was bound to come back down to earth eventually. It did. Kind of.
Over the next decade, while there was never any success comparable to that of the late '90's, the Yankees were still a powerhouse and highly regarded as one of the favorites to win the World Series year in and year out. In those ten seasons, they missed the playoffs only once (2008), won three more American League Pennants (2001, 2003, 2009), and one more World Series title in 2009 as well. They were good. Really good. But to me it never came as much of a surprise, because the Yankees being good was quite literally all I had ever known.
While the Yankees haven't necessarily been bad over the last five years, it definitely was beginning to become clear after the 2010 season that major change was coming to the Bronx in the near future. That change began to become painfully obvious when long time Yankee legends like Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte called it quits, ending their illustrious careers. In my mind, Yankees management should have taken the Captain Derek Jeter's retirement in 2014 as a clear cut sign to begin the rebuilding process. At that point, the team was beginning to turn into a roster filled with overpaid, washed-up former superstars. Granted, these same superstars won us a World Series in 2009, but it was clear that by 2014 these superstar type numbers were way behind most of them. The thing about rebuilding though is that you have to be a bad team to want to do it. Because the process usually takes a couple of years to come to fruition, teams often wait until the last possible minute to take the leap.
The Yankees finally decided to take that leap, and at this year's trade deadline they dealt away a lot of big names in an effort to officially begin that rebuilding process. The confusing part of it all is that the Yankees haven't been that bad of a team, which like I said is usually par for the course of a team that's trying to rebuild. They've been wildly mediocre, yes, but they have not been a bad team really by any stretch of the imagination. I do agree with their decision to finally rebuild, and the young players they are adding to the equation are giving a lot of Yankee fans very high hopes for the years to come, but there's just something funky about a team that made the playoffs last year rebuilding. I think it just goes to show how high of a standard this organization holds themselves to. While most clubs would have to be well under .500 and miss the playoffs for them to decide to rebuild, the Yankees are a team that began the rebuilding process right around the All-Star break while no more than just five games back in the Wild Card race. I don't think they've had a realistic shot to win anything in the past five years, and that's why I think this type of change is completely necessary, but the fact that they haven't dipped below .500 over that span yet are still rebuilding is something I have yet to see in sports.