Posted Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, at 2:53 PM
Some people wait for that warm spring day when summer dresses and tank tops come out on the streets of New York all at once. Me, I cherish a particular day in the fall, a day that some years sadly never comes. But when it does come, it's a beautiful and unmistakable thing:
Before I first moved to New York, I hadn't fully understood what sad, wretched front-runners the legions of Yankees fans really are. I always knew they were awful people, the most obnoxious fans in sports, but I hadn't grasped how weak-hearted they were. When the Yankees lose, there is no defiance, no residual pride, no we-want-a-rematch resolve. (The closest the Yankees come to that is their annual scheming to
.) People root for the Yankees because they want to identify with a winner—not just a winner, but
winner—and when the Yankees are losers, it blows a hole in their identity. They didn't sign up for this to root for a loser.
And so the caps vanish, overnight. They always tell you, when you're growing up, that a bully will cut and run the first time you punch back. Most kids are skeptical. Bullies are bigger and stronger than you. That's why they're bullies! It doesn't make sense that they would just cave like that.
But at least for the Yankees, it's true. The fans fled Yankee Stadium before the games were even over. The manager panicked and started handing out intentional walks. Robinson Cano jogged out a ninth-inning grounder. Alex Rodriguez stood frozen for the season-ending strike three. The first baseball cap I saw at Fairway today was a San Francisco Giants one.