I'm a Yankees fan. I have been ever since the days of Don Mattingly and the perpetual management merry-go-round of Lou Pinella, Bucky Dent, and Billy Martin. They were a mess, but they were a storied mess. I say all this because I don't want people to get the impression that I'm a bandwagon fan.
Anyway, at the beginning of the year things seemed to be going right badly for the Yankees. They were old, sucking wind, and everyone and their dog was getting injured. It seemed like they might be on the ropes and that Steinbrenner would return to form and wipe out the team like he did in the good old days, trading for aging superstars past their prime. A funny thing happened on the way to the bottom though. The Yankees turned it around. After being 15 1/2 games back they're now almost to the wild card and within certain striking distance of the AL East title. Some Yankees fans might have been afraid, but I think most felt that they would turn it around. After all, they always have during the Joe Torre era. That right there is the biggest difference between the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Yankees feel like they are always in it. Even after the World Series, it seems like most Sox fans are still waiting for the other shoe to drop because it always does. I am not quite sure why that is the case for the Sox. Other than their spectacular 2004 postseason performance, they're always falling short. I think that part of it might be because they derive everything in how they are versus the Yankees. When I was wandering around Boston a few weeks ago it seemed like every t-shirt shop had "Yankees Suck" or something similar on their t-shirts. I don't know of any other team that have as many t-shirts that are anti their chief rival as are pro their team. They might be playing not to lose as much as to win. As a result, the other shoe is always close by. It's like football teams that are ahead towards the end of a half or game and they suddenly go into a prevent defense. They've been playing solid D the entire game, but decide to go soft to prevent the deep ball. Suddenly they end up on the ropes. You have to play for keeps, and that's what they don't do. They did in 2004 and then they went back to normal. That's why my delusional newish Red Sox fan sister-in-law will never understand...they're not normal. With any other team I would believe that a 15 1/2 game lead would be plenty. But not with the Sox and not with the Yankees. I'm looking forward to things unfolding this month. It will be exciting.