Remember when people liked the Yankees? You know - that young, fun-spirited, surprise playoff contender? The nation smiled as Todd Frazier jumped over dugout railings and pointed his thumb down. I'm pretty sure Aaron Judge got some marriage proposals.
Well, that period in time seems like it was years ago. The Yankees continued the quest to rebuild their empire on Wednesday in a 7-2 blowout victory in the AL Wild Card Game, a night which showcased a player who fans of other teams are beginning to loathe.
Luke Voit, who ironically couldn't be more well-regarded as a human being, has risen to fame in New York and come to represent the most frustrating thing about the Yankees: The ease in which they're able to absorb big blows and rise back to the top of the league. Just when the team had seen enough of Greg Bird, who was supposed to be their franchise first baseman, Brian Cashman flipped a couple expendable, mediocre bullpen arms to the Cardinals to take a chance on a hot minor league hitter.
That hot hitter wound up helping secure the Yankees a spot in the playoffs. He managed to become the fifth player to collect 30 hits and 10 homers in his first 30 games, joining a list that includes Roger Maris and Babe Ruth. And, sure enough, there he was on Wednesday night with his hand raised high, having slugged what could have been the game's most important hit, a two-run triple in the sixth to put the Yankees ahead, 5-0.
That Cashman would trade for a streaking Triple-A hitter isn't a novel concept-he's done this many times with the likes of Casey McGehee and Ji-Man Choi -- but the timing with Voit is impeccable. Of course this year, when the Yankees desperately needed a first baseman for the stretch run, a 27-year-old with massive power came along and not only cemented himself in the team's core, but perhaps played himself into its long-term plans.
If Cashman could pick the time for one of his lottery ticket hitters to cash, now would probably be it. First base, aside from the starting rotation, was probably the only glaring hole on the roster in both the short and long term thanks to Bird's struggles. Now, in a cinch, the Yankees have an inexpensive solution.
Just like when they saw Giancarlo Stanton available and got him for Starlin Castro and two low-level prospects, or when temporary outfield help was needed and they traded for another former NL MVP in Andrew McCutchen, the Yankees once again managed to risk very little and gain a piece that may carry them to the World Series. Nothing is more infuriating than seeing a team which has achieved so much rise back to prominence with such simplicity and good fortune, and nothing is more Yankees than infuriating the public.
Luck is on their side. Time is on their side. The rest of the world, though, probably isn't anymore. They're hateable again, just like old times.