Spring training doesn’t just have to be for players. New York Yankees fans must prepare for their part in the 2019 run at the World Series.
You may not feel like spring has sprung, but New York Yankees pitchers and catchers report in a week. Nine days later the Bombers will open their spring training schedule against the execrable Boston Red Sox.
Fittingly enough, the Yankees’ hurlers and backstops report the day before Valentine’s Day. Fans can show their love—maybe even a little tough love—to the team by partaking in their own version of spring training.
It’s not football, in which fans can impact the game by screaming so loudly the opposing team has trouble communicating. However, Yankees fans play a significant role by yelling at TV screens and just generally caring slightly more than is rational.
So put down that beer (or grab another if it helps) and get yourself back in game shape. You can start with these three drills.
Practice New Ways to Taunt the Red Sox
One of the main roles of fans is to take the fight to the off-field members of Red Sox Nation, whether they sneak into Yankee Stadium or slide into your Twitter feed.
Fans can’t count on players and coaches to deviate from cliché mutual-respect answers to questions from the media about the Red Sox.
I’ve already suggested a few things, such as stealing Boston’s favorite songs and taking every opportunity to remind them that the championship scoreboard reads 27-9 in favor of the Bombers.
But there are so many more ways to rile up Red Sox fans.
One artist in New York got off to a great start in October, rankling Boston natives with this beautiful piece of art:
Hey NYC sanitation department, you’ve got some explaining to do. A friend of mine sent this to me today, from a midtown subway.
Cute gesture, but doesnt go far in my book. pic.twitter.com/DI5ZHfyWwr
— Courtney Fallon (@CourtneyFallon_) October 25, 2018
A good, although slightly random, follow-up poster could be one with Chris Sale in a crop top flaunting his one World Series ring in his belly button—a reference to that time Sale said he got an infection from his belly button ring.
Chris Sale said he was hospitalized because of an irritation caused by a belly-button ring. Really, that’s his story and sticking to it for now
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 20, 2018
That’s just one idea to get the creative juices flowing.
Warm Up Your Voice for Bronx Cheers
The next spring training drill involves vocal exercises to maximize boo decibels.
Since Bronx cheers mainly use the middle register, you’ll need to stretch your voice with some baritone vocal warm-ups. There are plenty of great videos online that will save you money on a vocal coach.
Once you’re warmed up, it’s important to know when to use your boos. Context is everything.
For example, when Gleyber Torres grounded out to end the 2018 ALDS, that was not a time to boo. He was a 21-year-old rookie facing Craig Kimbrel, and at least he made contact. Giancarlo Stanton, on the other hand, probably deserved a chorus of boos when he struck out as the tying run a few batters earlier in the same game.
Also, there are also some new faces who might need to be booed if they get off to slow starts. Just go easy on Troy Tulowitzki. If you boo too loudly, he might get hurt again.
Of course, Bronx cheers for pinstripe veterans who underperform are sometimes necessary as well. If Dellin Betances has to fill in at closer again or Gary Sanchez has another leaky season behind the plate, they’ll need vocal reminders of how their failures affect the fans.
Get New Gimmicks Ready
Aaron Judge has his chambers in right field, as well as fans with judge robes and wigs; the bleacher creatures do their roll call. However, there’s always room for more.
For example, fans can wear toy eagles on their shoulders in James Paxton starts, since he’s a bit of an eagle whisperer.
Also, fans can start cutting a hole in their Sanchez jerseys every time the catcher lets a ball squirt through his legs or bounce off his glove. If he doesn’t improve in 2019, there probably won’t be much of the jersey left by the end of the year. Sanchez had 16 passed balls in 104 games at catcher in 2017; he then upped his passed-ball game to 18 in just 76 games in 2018.
Another tough-love tradition to start is hanging K’s for the Yankees lineup, rather than their starting pitcher. You’ll need a lot of K’s, though.
The Yankees’ 1421 strikeouts were 9th most in the MLB last season, with 1421. That doesn’t seem too horrible until you consider that six of the teams who had more Ks than the Bombers were in the National League, which features easy strikeouts when pitchers come to the plate.
Ending on a positive note, if Clint Frazier has a breakout season in 2019, fans can start dying their hair red.
It Doesn't Matter Where You Are
Even if you can’t get to the Bronx to participate in corporate fandom and add a large percentage of your paycheck to Hal Steinbrenner’s net worth by purchasing concessions, you still need Yankees fan spring training.
Religiously watching every game and audibly groan whenever you encounter Red Sox paraphernalia in public are just a couple ways you can contribute to the collective positive (or constructively negative) energy that makes up the 26th roster member wherever you may be.
Hustle up, New York Yankees fans it’s time to get back to work.