By Steve Silverman
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When a team wins a championship and its long-suffering fan base gets a chance to rejoice, it is a cathartic event that can be life-changing.
Family members laugh and cry, and they shake with nearly uncontrollable veneration. It is a temporary event. The shelf life of championship excitement is about a week. Life goes on as we know it, and some other earth-shattering event takes hold.
(In the case of the Cubs’ victory, the earth-shattering event came six days after the title — and it was a doozy.)
The stories of the championship celebration become part of the lore, and what happened in Chicago is similar to what happened in Boston in 2004 when the Red Sox finally ended their long run.
Celebrants remembers their roots and they want to share the win with those who no longer can. They go to the cemeteries and leave pictures and artifacts at gravesites to share the moment with those who have passed.
After that week of celebration, the victory becomes a memory, and an important one. The hole in the heart is filled with the knowledge that their team has one wonderful victory to its credit.
It can be helpful on those upcoming cold winter nights.
But one thing that the Cubs victory has driven home, just like the Red Sox victory did before it – I’m not including the Chicago White Sox in 2005 because that team lacks the gravitas — is just how fortunate Yankees fans have been.
The Yankees have won 27 world championships, and all of them came after the Red Sox and Cubs won the titles that preceded their long droughts. Both the Boston and Chicago fan bases may have spent years complaining about curses and bad luck, but neither of those factors had much to do with the Bronx Bombers’ championships.
The Yankees have had the best organization, managers and players, and that’s why they have won so often. There has been no divine intervention, and they have not been graced by some higher power.
They have been the best team. That’s why they have won so often.
Teams like the Red Sox and especially the Cubs simply could not measure up to their accomplishments. The only bad luck the Red Sox could complain about was their geography. Perhaps if they had not been so close to the Yankees and in the same division and league, they might have fared a bit better.
But they would not have found a way to beat the Yankees in so many of those years because New York simply had the better team.
The Yankees have put together four magnificent dynasties in their history, and that’s what is worthy of celebration.
The Bombers won their first World Series in 1923, and they would add three more by the end of the 1932 season. The famous ’27 Yankees featured Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at their peak and may very well have been the best team of all-time. The 1932 World Series saw the Yankees sweep the Cubs, and featured the Babe calling his shot at Wrigley Field.
The second Yankees run took place between 1936 and 1939, when they won four straight World Series titles, losing just three Fall Classic games in the process. These teams featured Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio and were simply a magnificent club that was the best of its era by a wide margin.
They would also win titles in 1941, ’43 and ’47, but the third Yankees dynasty was a 15-year run that started in 1949 and ended in 1964. They won 14 American League pennants and eight World Series during a run that featured DiMaggio at the start, but was basically the province of Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and an overwhelming supporting cast.
When that dynasty finally withered, the Yankees went through their “drought.” But instead of lasting 86 or 108 years, this one lasted 12 years. The 1976 team won the American League pennant, and a superb team that featured Thurman Munson, Catfish Hunter, Ron Guidry and a slugger named Reggie Jackson won back-to-back titles in 1977 and ’78.
For our purpose, this three-year World Series run was a great achievement, but not a dynasty.
The team that won four World Series in a five-year span from 1996 through 2000 was a dynasty. This was the team of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill and Joe Torre, and it may have been the equivalent of the 1936-39 Yankees.
So, the Cubs have won their title first 1908, and the Red Sox have their three since breaking their hex. They celebrate knowing how rare a championship can be.
Yankee fans don’t live in that world. They live in a world where excellence is the regularly attained standard.
Difficult times last a season or two or three, and not much longer than that.
It’s not likely to change any time soon.
Follow Steve on Twitter at @ProFootballBoy