It must be like rooting for the IRS

No one expects to celebrate as much as a Yankee fan expects to celebrate, and I almost envy that. Almost.

Before the Mariners played the Yankees on Wednesday night, there was a video that played at the stadium, composed almost entirely of New York celebrations.

Pitchers shouting in exultation after an apparent strikeout. Hitters tossing the bat triumphantly. Fans with their fists raised. So many fans.

There was no baseball being played in this montage, as I remember it, just Yankee players and their fans celebrating, which struck me as hilariously appropriate. The Yankees are unique in American sports in the way they unflinchingly present success as part of their fan experience: You cheer for us, you get to win. That’s just how it is.

This was not something I realized until later in life. You see, I grew up in the 1980s which means I learned baseball in that glorious era when the Yankees went 18 years without winning a championship. They went 14 years without making the postseason. The first time I remember them making the playoffs was 1995 when they got their asses bounced out by Edgar Martinez and his double.

But New York won the championship in 1996, the first of four titles the would claim in a five-year span. I remember telling another, significantly older, sports writer how surprised I was at the sudden arrogance of Yankee fans given how long the team had gone without mattering. He looked at me as if I had two heads because for him, this is exactly who Yankee fans were.

My lord, they’re insufferable though they still don’t top Notre Dame fans or Boston fans on my national axis of evil. What distinguishes Yankee fanse, however, is their cocksure certainty that success is coming, and they’re just waiting so they can properly celebrate.

This confidence is utterly foreign to me as a sports fan. Even last season – when the Huskies were in the midst of that incredible unbeaten run – it was very difficult to bring myself to say that they should beat the brakes off the Cougars in the Apple Cup because I feared what could – and almost did -- happen. Even in 2001, when the Mariners won 116 games, I kept waiting for the bottom to fall out, and when they fell behind I would wonder if this was the moment when Cinderella’s coach turned back into the pumpkin.

Not Yankees fans, man.

When Aaron Judge hit a two-run homer in the first inning of Wednesday’s game, it wasn’t relief that you heard in Yankee Stadium or even joy really. It was the sound of a fan base that knows it has a monster straight out of the Greek mythology batting third in the order and playing centerfielder.

“There it is.”

“That’s what I’m talking about.”

Then Juan Soto homered. Twice. Each of those – like Judge’s blast – went to the opposite field. And while Cal Raleigh hit a three-run homer to add a pinch of uncertainty to the final two innings, Alex Verdugo quickly squelched that by absolutely crushing a two-run homer to right-center, the Yankees winning 7-3.

As a Mariner fan, I found it hard to be too mad. Seattle had won the first two games of the series after all, including that comeback on Monday, when two infield hits in the top of the ninth, a couple walks and a pair of solid singles erased a three-run deficit in the ninth inning of a game where the Yankees had some bad luck on some incredibly hard-hit balls.

Seattle is in first place, which isn’t saying much because the Mariners are the only team in the division above .500, but still. First place is first place, and this team is going to hit better eventually, right? RIGHT!?!?!?

Now, I’m sure some people will attribute my lack of indignation over Wednesday’s loss to the passive-aggressive nature of the Pacific Northwest fan. In our weekly Husky podcast, Christian Caple even observed how typical I was being when I pointed to last season’s success to help offset the very real possibility that the Washington Huskies are constructing an offensive line out of papier mache.

And it’s true. I don’t see the point in getting virulently mad about the offensive linemen who transferred out, and I can’t blame Jedd Fisch because he inherited a difficult situation and while I’m not exactly wishing Kalen Deboer well in Alabama, I also don’t think my angst is going to cause him to lose any sleep given that he’s probably laying down on a bed made of money.

Perhaps if me and other Pacific Northwest fans were more caustic after losses, more angry, it would provide an incentive for not just the players to perform better, but for the people in charge of those teams to do better in the construction.

But somehow, I think the Yankees resources have more to do with their success than the expectation level of the fans. In fact, the resources might be -- in many ways -- the root cause of those elevated expectations as opposed to vice versa.

We stayed through the end of a game in which the Mariners struck out 11 times and listened to Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “New York” echo through the stadium as we walked out. Hell, I even sang along, but I can’t wait until they lose in the playoffs (again) because one of the things I enjoy most in sports is watching this fan base that views success as a birthright go ultimately unfulfilled.

Now THAT’S something I look forward to celebrating.

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