Something interesting has developed in my reconciliation with baseball this year. Aside from trying to understand and accept the new, analytical side of baseball, I have grown deeply interested in what happens to players in the minor league system.
What sparked this interest was this whole notion and narrative of the Yankees’ “Baby Bombers” and how the team has rebuild with such force by using its own talent. Shocking, I know! However, this is a whole new side of the Yankees that I did not see or experienced as much as I grew as a fan.
My formative Yankees years were those in the early 2000s, where many players have already established themselves and the Yankees were burning up cash acquiring well-known and established talent around the league. So coming back to following the team in 2018, it was a pleasant shock to see so many players I knew nothing of. I’m aware I’m a few seasons behind, but this 2018 roster is something special. It’s not only my gut speaking, but those who have been following the Yankees and the Baby Bombers have said pretty much the same.
I find it amazing and truly special that this was the year I decided to get back in. I followed the Yankees late last season, but it wasn’t enough time for me to get to know the players. There’s a difference of seeing Aaron Judge headlines and watching him play throughout the season. You truly appreciate a player’s impact to the team if you see them grind day in and day out, go through their struggles and contribute to the team’s success with big and small plays.
So enamored with this whole concept of the Baby Bombers, I turned my attention to the other players on the team. I wanted to know their backgrounds and their pathway on becoming a Yankee. This was in April, but I still was not paying attention to the minor leagues. There was too much unknown about the Yankees that I wanted to focus on.
And then, one of my new favorite Yankees was sent to the Triple-A Railriders.
As fun as the 2018 Yankees season has been, it has also been frustrating
At first, it didn’t bothered me. I knew that players (especially young ones) will be called up and down in the first half of the season. But something felt different, and after a few weeks I knew that my player was going to have a hard time finding a spot on the Yankees dominating roster. I found myself invested in the player’s progress, and looked for any hint of hope that he would be getting that call soon.
I cheered him on from my phone, tracking his at-bats and stats, and making a defensive argument of how he truly did not belong to be there. But then I started noticing other players with the same story: talented, ready for the majors, but stuck in the minors due to a bad break. As fun as the 2018 Yankees season has been, it has also been frustrating. It is not like those on the Yankees roster don’t belong there (well, I have a few names but I’ll give them a few more at-bats before I pull the plug on them).
For me, there’s nothing more satisfying and fulfilling than watching a hard-working person succeed because, in spite of their adversities, they take every opportunity to make things happen. So it makes sense that I have gravitated more towards players that are trying to find their opportunities and performing in such a way that is deserving of the glory of making it to The Show.
I have found this season so rewarding, in so many different and surprising ways. The appreciation of the Baby Bombers and the new Yankees has also helped me appreciate more my local Double-A team. Those players also have the same dreams and aspirations of making it big, and it will be rewarding seeing it where it all started.
I have described my love for baseball to my friends as irrational. They have argued that I show passion, and it is the stories of the players that fuel it.
I’m so glad I’m back into baseball, and with a new found appreciation of the league, team but most importantly the individual players. For they are the ones who put the heart and soul into the game, and it makes us appreciate the sport on a whole new level.