For the last decade, "number 2" signified Yankee greatness, as it graced the hallowed jersey of Derek Jeter.
Starting tonight, "2" might define the team's place in New York - maybe for the next decade.
Statistically and realistically, the Subway Series cannot ruin the Yankees' 2015 season beyond three games. Three and out. That's all. The Yanks could botch all three, and then next week sweep the fumbling Tampa Rays and return to normalcy - that mythical location along the .500 parallel.
Statistically and realistically, these games are a fart in the wind storm. It's still April. I speeeet on you who slobber hyperbole upon the Yankiverse. Pttuui. Statistically and realistically, the next three games do not matter.
But psychically and spiritually - well, that's a different story. This weekend could define the pecking order of NYC, where the tipping point is perilously close
It's like those Oklahoma earthquakes, which the political oil cans were denying for years. Suddenly, the ground is shaky, and everybody is saying aloud what they knew all along: You frack with nature, and you better know what you're doing. The Yankees have been fracking themselves for five years. It's still not clear what they are doing.
It's been years since the Evil Empire dominated the American League. That ship sailed in the Collapse of 2004, still the most defining Yankee event in this Millennium. And whatever prideful attitude once remained, it dripped down the chin of Owner Hal Steinbrenner two months ago, when the "I'm Not Cheap" son of George pitifully couldn't outbid Boston for Yoan Moncada.
Still, the Yankees owned NYC... at least until this weekend.
Today's NY Times says Yankee TV viewership has tumbled by 21 percent - one in five fans has jumped ship - while Met ratings are dramatically rising. That huge Yankee TV advantage has vanished like a 10-point Knicks lead. The two teams' ratings are nearly equal. Then again, one franchise is sky-rocketing, while the other is drilling injection wells into the ground. This isn't about just 2015. It's about a decade when the earth is going to shake.
In today's NY Post, some guy named "Howie" - (at last, a true Post byline name!) - lists 10 story lines for the Subway Series. Yatta-yatta-yatta. There is only one story, and it is that the Yankees could emerge from this weekend as NY's second team. Realistically and statistically, it's just thre games. But in the ways that matter, it may be the end of an era.