New York Yankees fans have a reputation for being spoiled and ungrateful. This is largely due to two specific age groups of Yankees fans: the baby boomers who witnessed the late 50s and early 60s, and the Gen X/early millennial fans who experienced the dominant 90s. But there is one specific generation of Yankees fans who go unspoken, forgotten, and most fueled with frustration beyond that of any other age group of Yankees fans. I am talking specifically about the late millennial fans (birth years 1993-1996).
If you are older than 30 years old, you are likely rolling your eyes already. Another privileged and complaining millennial? Late millennials have a terrible reputation in modern society, mostly due to becoming the scapegoat for everything stupid done by those just barely older, and just barely younger (Ex. Participation trophies were our parents doing, and Tide pod eating was Gen Z). Late millennials are also known for their short tempers, high alcohol consumption, high anxiety, and dark humor. If you ask any millennial why this is so, they may respond something similar to the age group being thrown under the bus and taken advantage of while helplessly having to sit through the ride.
With all of that being said, I believe the late millennial Yankees fan is far more emotionally connected to the 2022 Yankees than any other generation of Yankees fans.
Consider this: Those born between 1993 and 1996 have only seen one Yankees World Series win. The other four happened while we were either in diapers or being potty trained. As a result, we were told by our parents and older siblings of some supreme and unstoppable expectation, and our first two tastes of that were in 2003 and 2004. Our whole baseball-watching lives have been sky-high expectations followed by heart-shattering finishes, with the one exception in 2009.
Here’s the catch: the Yankees have been pretty darn great throughout our lifetimes, and we never noticed it. The problem is that we late millennials have been conditioned by our siblings, parents and grandparents into believing that the product we saw was unacceptable failures. We never got to enjoy the great ride we have been put on, so when we criticize the Yankees, we get lumped into the spoiled Yankees fan stereotype of our elders. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense why other fan bases get annoyed with us: other fan bases would kill to have the consistent success of the Yankees, and here we fans are truly believing it is not enough.
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Late millennial Yankees fans are brainwashed. We do not know what real failure is, but we have been conditioned to believe that failure is all we have ever seen. The expectation we were conditioned to set for our team is so unrealistic that it can never be met. As a result, we have almost never been satisfied with the product on the field, and we exist year-to-year in unbreakable frustration.
This brings us to the 2022 Yankees, a team with a division lead in July so massive, that the second-place team has a record closer to last place than to us. This team has a record so good, that it has become a storyline whether they can give chase to the 2001 Mariners for the most amount of wins in a season, while simultaneously producing a player who can break Roger Maris’ homerun record. This is more than just a baseball team, this is everything that our parents and grandparents brainwashed us to accept.
This could be the team of our generation. This is the team we were told to expect for nearly 20 years. I would be lying if I said this season is not nerve-wracking. I want so badly to enjoy this ride, but every time I turn on the radio or TV, all I keep hearing is "but October." Please, please, just let me enjoy the 162-game season! I am so tired of hearing about the past that you got to enjoy but just dangle in front of me. I am so tired of being told that the product I enjoyed in my life is a failure. I am so tired of being told that I am not allowed to enjoy the season while 29 other fan bases get to. But it is too late, my wires have already been programmed, for better and for worse.
If you are a late millennial Yankees fan, and you find yourself constantly nervous and frustrated with the Yankees, I believe this may be your answer. The 2022 team, is more than just a team, it is the embodiment of everything our fandom has promised us. This could be the team that gets written in immortality, in a way that transcends 2009. This is THE biggest, baddest, and best bullet that has even been in the chamber. In some ways, it also feels like it may be the final bullet. If this bullet misses its target, I do not know what we are going to do. But whatever we do, we will do it proudly in pinstripes.
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