Who needs a pep talk (or at least a good reason to bash some subpar Yankees fans)?

Yankee Stadium ALDS Game 5 crowd during the National Anthem (Photo credit: @DShulman_ESPN)

Yankee Stadium Game 5 crowd during the National Anthem (Photo by @DShulman_ESPN via Twitter)

If you’re looking for something blaming blown fan interference calls from years ago or foul poles for Orioles playoff losses to the Yankees, you might want to close your browser now. You won’t find that here.

For any of you who saw the Orioles get knocked out of the playoffs by the Yankees Friday night and who are too young to remember the last time the O’s made the postseason, I want to pass along something someone probably told me back in 1997: “There’s always next year.”

That feels great, doesn’t it? Hearing a phrase like that, after your team’s just been eliminated until April, is kind of like the punch in the gut that anyone who actually utters those words at a time like that probably deserves more than you. You can imagine how it made things not a bit easier the last decade and a half as Orioles fans watched Baltimore finish out of the race every single “next year.”

I also don’t want you to forget what my mom told me in 1983. I was 8 years old and had a ticket to Game 6 of the World Series between the Orioles and the Phillies at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The Orioles won it in five, in Philly. I sobbed, happy they’d won but disappointed I wouldn’t get to see a game.

As part of her effort to cheer me up, my mom explained that there would be other Orioles World Series games to go to. Next October will mark the 30th anniversary of what was a great pep talk at the time from a truly fantastic mother; I would have told my kid the same thing, especially given the club’s history of success at that point. But, the total number of Orioles World Series games that have been played since that day stands at zero.

If none of this is making things better, you can at least take comfort in the fact that Yankees fans are people too and Friday night’s game meant a lot to them, so much in fact that 40,000 or so of them weren’t in the stadium for the start of the game. Maybe they were waiting until the last minute to see if they could sell their tickets to someone else—well, 20% of them at least.

Some Yankee fans will blame traffic for their home field being a ghost town for the first few innings Friday evening. If only that city had a mass transit system large and efficient enough to motivate people to leave their cars at home! Oh, the traffic! The horrible traffic—in a city with enough Yankee fans that don’t even own cars to get stuck in traffic with, that they could fill The House That Jeter Built (and then likely complained to an umpire about) multiple times over.

Another excuse is that the real Yankee fans have been priced out of the new stadium. That’s a valid concern, but were they priced out of all those tickets to Game 5 that other “fans” were dumping for around $20 on StubHub?

Some New Yorkers will also say it’s too hard to leave work a few hours early on a Friday. It’s funny how a weekend in The Hamptons is reason enough for that, yet the final game of a first round playoff series no longer is.

I say “no longer” because it’s beginning to look like some Yankees fans have become so spoiled by their team’s success that the deciding game in a first round playoff series just isn’t enough for them anymore. It’s a shame how doing well year-after-year-after-year, and watching teams filled with almost any megastar management feels like signing, will beat you down like that. Maybe being one of the final four fan bases out of 30 with a team still in the race will inspire more Yankees fans to make the ALCS games important, unlike that good-for-nothing ADLS Game 5 that Major League Baseball had the gall to schedule at 5 p.m.

The one set of Yankee fans I don’t blame for not making Game 5 attendance a priority are the people who’ve jumped on the team’s bandwagon in cities across America that are too far away for them to realistically make it to Yankee Stadium. Like that guy on the west coast who has no ties to New York whatsoever yet wears that Yankees cap because the colors are cool and roots for them as soon as he hears from a friend that they’ve made the World Series again. I don’t blame that guy or the thousands like him at all. Those guys out there are doing great work and were never following most of the games (or the fact that baseball season has started) anyway.

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