It was 2004 all over again on Tuesday night when New York Yankees fans were chanting “Who’s your daddy?” during a postseason game.
Alas, it’s actually 2022. The Boston Red Sox only won 78 games this season. David Ortiz has been retired for so long that he’s been inducted into the Hall of Fame. And the son in question is not Pedro Martinez, but Cleveland Guardians slugger Josh Naylor, who earned the ire of the game’s most easily agitated fans during the ALDS.
After homering off Gerrit Cole in Game 4, Naylor motioned like he was rocking a baby as he rounded the bases. It’s not something new for him, but a la Michael Jordan, Yankees fans took that personally.
So when the series returned back to the Bronx for Game 5, the boisterous buffoons of the Bronx decided to flip the script with their favorite recycled chant.
Unlike 2004, it didn’t backfire. They beat Cleveland – the franchise that hasn’t won a World Series since 1948, now the longest drought in the game since Boston and Chicago exorcised their own demons – to advance to the ALCS.
But haven’t Yankees fans learned their lesson over the past two decades? Don’t count your pinstriped chickens before they hatch.
Baseball’s most insufferable fans tormented Pedro throughout September and October 2004, with repercussions of historic proportions.
The Rivalry wouldn’t reconvene in the postseason for almost a decade and a half. During that break, the Sox won two more championships and the Yankees notched their 27th.
In August 2018, Brian Cashman boasted that his Bronx Bombers were the only team able to “do damage” against the Sox. Boston promptly swept them in a 4-game series, ended up winning a franchise-record 108 regular-season games, and turned the Yankees GM’s presumptuous soundbite into their October slogan:
That same year, Yankees fans chanted “We want Boston” after beating the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card game. They got Boston.
In the subsequent ALDS, Aaron Judge blasted “New York, New York” at Fenway after what would turn out to be the Yankees’ sole victory in the series. See you next year.
Being that cocky must be exhausting. It’s almost as tired as putting “27 rings” all over your social media when in fact, it’s actually 26 rings and a pocket watch. Never mind the fact that 20 of those championships were won when all it took to get to the World Series was having the best regular-season record in your respective league, which only had eight teams at the time.
More than that, are they not embarrassed? Time and again, this team and its fans have gotten so far ahead of themselves that they may as well be in a different zip code than their reality. They’ve won one World Series in the last two decades. They talk the talk – and lots of it – but no longer walk the walk.
The Yankees will never be the underdogs, but since 2004, they’re no powerhouse, either. The Red Sox didn’t just Reverse the Curse in that ALCS; they blew up the Death Star. Much like the Romans, Ottomans, and British, the Evil Empire looks like a relic of the past. Fatherhood is a blessing and a curse; just ask Darth Vader.
Need more proof that the Evil Empire is losing power faster than an old iPhone? Naylor wasn’t even shaken by the chants. In fact, he said it was a “dream come true” to be on the receiving end:
"“That was awesome. That was so sick. That was honestly like a dream come true as a kid — playing in an environment like this where they’ve got diehard fans, it’s cool. The fact I got that going through the whole stadium, that was sick.”"
Can you imagine anyone on the Red Sox feeling this way before the 2004 ALCS? Absolutely not. The Yankees tormented Pedro, and he still discusses how difficult that was.
After Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres mocked him by mimicking his baby-rocking gesture, Naylor had a word of caution:
"“Better win it all.”"
Update: Astros sweep Yankees in ALCS
It turns out the Yankees didn’t win it all. In fact, they didn’t win at all after defeating the Guardians in the ALDS. The Astros promptly swept them right out of the ALCS, which makes them the Yankees’ daddies and by the transitive property, the Guardians’ grand-daddies.