Shortly after the Bruins dropped their four consecutive game to the Philadelphia Flyers, losing a 3-0 lead both in the series and in the game, a Twitterer with the handle of JConnole14 dropped a little phrase that was, one presumes, both bitterly and eagerly retweeted by Bill Simmons: “Now I know how it feels like to be a Yankee fan.” It’s a joke that writes itself, and one that urged Bruins fans to laugh rather than cry. You just suffered a devastating, scantly-precedented defeat. Why not make yourself feel better and twist the knife that’s still wedged into the back of the average Yankees fan, six years and their 27th World Championship removed from the darkest moment in their history?
I like the pluck. I like the motivation. I like everything about it except that it’s not true.
Let’s be careful not to equate hyperbolic situations just because it’s easy. The Bruins loss was horrid, and, for diehard followers of the team, must have felt like being hit by a cement mixer careening down Mt. Washington with busted brakes and a razor wire-barbed cowcatcher on the front. The facts are these: the Bruins have a long history of disappointment that was exacerbated by this newest glorious way to express futility in the face of success; it was an infection that got worse. It’s not Aaron Boone-level pain yet only because it’s merely Bucky Dent-level pain or even, at this point, Bill Buckner-level pain. Being the second round of the playoffs, though, maybe Buckner would be a stretch. Still, it sucked.
Now let’s look at revisit what happened to the Yankees. They are the winningest American sports franchise of all-time. They have won about a quarter of all World Series ever contested, and just to piss you off, have lost 13 of them. They were coming off maybe their most satisfying elimination of the persistently, unapologetically losing Red Sox, and had built a three games to none lead in a sport that’s fickle enough that the Sox were the first team to ever even tie it at three games after that, let alone win the series. Beyond that, the Yankees were beaten in back-to-back overly winnable extra inning games by the same batter in the same day; they followed that up by losing to their most willing gum-flapping antagonist who was pitching with a very obviously injured ankle tendon that was bleeding through his sock, and they lost largely due to their new prized acquisition’s illegal, un-“Yankee”-like open-handed slap of an opposing player; and followed that by being blown out of their own building, their only solace being their one-inning, two-run crusade against the Pedro Martinez vanity experiment. The sport was never the same, and the sport will never be the same. Hockey will continue more or less as it should, even if the headache for B’s fans lingers into August. The pain will eventually fade, and in hockey’s anything-goes playoff system, patience will eventually be rewarded.
Yankees fans who are waiting to reverse what happened in 2004 will have to settle for winning 10 World Series in a row, or having A-Rod break the all time hom runs record in their uniform, or having all civil liberties suspended on their new lockdown campus. I suspect if those things happen, they really won’t care about 2004 any more. But I will, and while I’ll know what it’s like to see my favorite hockey team get felled by four swift kicks to the nuts, I’ll still never know what it felt like for Yankees fans to be so humiliated. Don’t let this one go until you absolutely have to. You earned it.