You could have laid down. You could have gone to Ghostbusters, Ladies Edition. You could have faked a Zika outbreak - (Question: Seeing as how the governor of Florida rejects global warming as a hoax, why does he believe scientists' warnings about Zika? Why not call their bluff?) You could have lost those three games, lifting the Yankees to an astronomical six games above .500! - where the rarefied air would have dizzied Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner into trading prospects for Steve Pearce or Randy Choate. You could have killed our next decade. You could have sent us back to John Mayberry.
That happened in 1982, Maybe's last gasp in MLB. For 15 years, Mayberry killed the Yankees, so in one of George's signature botches, we traded three prospects - Dave Revering was the best - to bring Goliath to Gotham. Through August, Mayberry hit .209 with 8 home runs - numbers that eerily match A-Rod's - and occupied the middle of our lineup like a Shriner's fart in an elevator. By June, whenever Mayberry came up, I was praying for him not to get a hit - because it would prolong the agony. A home run would mean another lost month.
Listen: I don't claim to know prospects. I am a box score scout. I never claim to know who what Girardi should do in the ninth inning. But I do know fan-hood, and I can tell you that the absolute worst feeling for any fan is to be reduced to rooting against his team, because he wants the players to disappear. Yes, it's irrational, but it is a human reaction, and it's the reason this country might elect Donald Trump: People just want to burn everything down. (That's why we need sports, by the way.)
Last night, for the first time in months, I actually rooted for the Yankees to win, without fearing the long term consequences. (It didn't hurt that we were playing the Mets.) Last night, I actually rooted for A-Rod to come up with the bases loaded and the game on the line. When he was pulled from the on-deck circle, so that Ben Gamel could deliver a critical bunt, it didn't bother me. A-Rod cannot hurt me anymore. (In fact, with no pennant race, he's likely to start hitting; isn't that the way he's always done it?) Ben Gamel? I can root for the guy. He has never hurt me.
In a mid-game interview, Brian Cashman inferred that Gary Sanchez will soon be on the team. I can't wait. I don't even care if he looks over-matched. He'll be learning. Same with Tyler Austin, Jake Cave, Aaron Judge, and the cast of Gilligan's Island, otherwise known as the pitching staff of Scranton. Let's see what we've got. We can root for these guys.
Last weekend, the Yankee world changed. Thank you, Tampa. Now watch out for the mosquitoes.