I’ve always felt that once you sign on to be a fan of a sports team, you’re a fan for life. Like a marriage, good times and bad, and till death do us part. Fan support has been a big topic this weekend as for the first that I can remember a professional post season sporting event in NYC was played before a lot of empty seats, and in all places, Highlanders Stadium.
I was very surprised to see so many tickets available for Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS games in the Bronx. The tickets that were available on Stub Hub were way under face value as well so what the hell happened?
Myself and Mike Silva discussed this last night on our Sports Media Watchdog Podcast going over many different reasons from cost of tickets, commuting, and traffic all play a part but the feeling I get is many Highlanders fans just have no faith at all in their team and with Derek Jeter done for the remainder of the post season, it seems the fans have packed it in for the year just like the Highlanders offense.
It was discussed a lot during the season as the Bronx Bastards were hitting home run after home run many fans and media types had concern that this club was not built for the post season where most game runs are at a premium. The Highlanders look at playing small ball like it’s an affront on their manhood, but a bunt here, a stolen base there, a little hit and run might be how they have to go after the Tigers. The Highlander pitching has been superb to the point where I feel C.C. Sabathia is underrated as a pitcher and big game performer and you cannot say enough about the job Hiroki Kuroda did on 3 days’ rest. Problem is I can’t find a Highlander fan who shares my feelings, all they see is an impotent offense and their Captain lying prone on the infield dirt.
The Highlander fans have really turned to heels when it comes to their team, the players, especially Nick Swisher are having a tough time accepting the taunts and cat calls from a fan base that has “if we don’t win the World Series the season is a failure” mentality that management and the teams PR department has branded into their heads. This is what happens when you promote ad nausea that you are the 27 Time World Champions, and put up billboards like this around the city and sell obnoxious t –shirts and generally act like no other team in baseball is worthy of being in the same league as you. Even your fans stop buying that bullshit.
Problem for the Highlanders is their fan base is not prepared for failure. The Highlander fan of my generation who remembers when attendance figures of 3,000 or less at the REAL Highlander Stadium were the norm and how the Mets were the darlings of New York, knows that as great as the winning feels, the cycle does bring you to hard times as well, but you stick with your team thick or thin. The new Generation of Highlander fan that jumped on the bandwagon the last 20 to 25 years doesn’t have the heart to support a losing team. Let’s face it with the combination of age, Hal Steinbrenner looking to cut payroll, a barren farm system and the teams in their division not only getting better but they also smell Highlander blood in the water knowing that the once mighty New York Highlanders are no longer feared.
It happens; the great Core players that led the Highlanders to championships are gone. Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are the Four Horsemen of the great Highlander run. Rivera and Jeter will be back but they are both will be coming off severe injury and an age where players decline rather than improve. There could be tough times ahead for the Highlanders but just think fans you have a whole lot of Highlander Classics and Highlander-ograhpy’s to watch on YUCK until the next cycle of winning comes along hopefully that won’t come around for a long long time.