Comedian Ari Shaffir wasn’t born a Yankees fan; he became one in second grade. Out of necessity. Of course, in the decades since, that fateful decision has come back to haunt him, and as the Bombers reeled off championship after championship, he was accused of being a bandwagon jumper (at best), or a fair-weather fan (at worst).
Turns out, neither is true – and Shaffir’s out to prove it this year, as he hangs tough with the team through what many believe will be a season in the abyss. It seems the title of his Comedy Central show, “This Is Not Happening,” might prove oddly prophetic. Here’s Ari’s take on the 2015 Yankees.
The only part of being a Yankees that sucks is that people think you’re fair-weather, but, like, what else am I supposed to do? I was born in New York, but I was only there for a couple months – we moved to North Carolina, and they had no teams. So once I was in, like, second grade, and I was aware of sports, I just picked America’s Teams, so that was the Yankees and the Cowboys. Little did I know how much shit I’d get for it.
I remember sitting in the cafeteria, just looking at the stats every day, going, “Can Mattingly beat Boggs for the batting title?” and the Yankees were, like, 22 games of the playoffs. I was at sleepaway camp one year, listening to the All-Star Game on the radio, hoping Dave Winfield would hit one out. The only drama was over his sideburns. It was a weird time. We were firing managers all the time, bringing them back. But then we got to the Nineties, and it was great man.
But now, Derek Jeter’s gone, Mariano Rivera’s gone – we know this season’s not going to be great. The playoffs aren’t a sure thing; last year we were in it until the end. With a week left, somehow we were still in the hunt. I’m hoping we can make a run, pull it together and make the playoffs. Anything less than the playoffs would be a negative. The expectations are lowered, but once you make the playoffs, anything’s possible. Kansas City almost won the World Series last year. Kansas City. I feel like we have a 35 percent chance of making the playoffs. Our division is going to be tough, though. The Orioles are going to be great. Who knows what Boston is going to be like? Toronto, Tampa, who knows?
Masahiro Tanaka’s going to be great, I think he’s healthy and he’s only going to get better and better. CC [Sabathia’s] a question mark. He’s been breaking down. [Michael] Pineda needs to stay healthy. I honestly think our pitching will be fine. The problem is our offense. Who do they even have? There’s nobody there. [Mark] Teixeira is done. Carlos Beltran? Brian McCann? Come on, man. Didi Gregorius, who’s he? A-Rod’s done. I want that dude out of there. He’s a problem, and now he’s a bad hitter too. The problem is his contract is so big that they can’t get rid of him. They should cut him. Pay him his entire salary then sign some guy at the league minimum. I bet you’ll get more production.
I’m not even sure about our bullpen, which hasn’t been a problem since [John] Wetteland was there. I hope they don’t do a closer by committee. You gotta have a guy you trust in there all the time; I’m not sure who that guy is on this team.
But, look, I feel like Joe Girardi out-did himself last year; they had tons of injuries and they were still in it right until the end, so he did a really good job. If they can hang around, who knows? They’ve just got to make the postseason.
Famous Fan Fearless Forecast: I think they’re gonna be over .500 – I can see them going 84-78, but not making the playoffs. I’m bummed, but I’m going to keep rooting for them all year. I have my MLB app on my phone; I’ll definitely be on it. Until the Yankees are out of it, of course.