As a life-long fan of the New York Yankees, last night’s Wild Card game against the Oakland A’s was truly a source of great joy and excitement. Aaron Judge’s monstrous first inning two-run shot, Luis Severino’s lights-out performance, Luke Voit’s game-breaking two-RBI triple; this game literally had everything a die-hard Yanks fan would want as the Bronx Bombers cruised to a 7-2 victory en route to facing their arch nemesis Boston Red Sox in the American League Divisional Series, which begins on Friday.
For the Yankees, beating the Sox — arguably the best team in baseball this year — is anything but a forgone conclusion. But should they make it through Boston in a 5-game series and either the Cleveland Indians or the Houston Astros in the 7-game ALCS, things could potentially become complicated for New York City FC.
As co-tenants of Yankee Stadium, NYCFC are currently scheduled to finish out their regular season at the House That Jeter Built on October 28 against the Philadelphia Union before embarking upon a playoff run that will hopefully culminate in them hoisting up the MLS Cup for the first time in the team’s history. Considering their current form, this isn’t likely. Still, as fans, it’s what we’re hoping for.
There’s a catch, though. You know what else is supposed to take place on October 28? Game 5 of the World Series.
Are the Yankees favorites to win the World Series? No. Are they favored to even make the World Series? Not while sharing a conference with the aforementioned Bo-Sox. But being buoyed by some of the best bats in the MLB, they are dangerous and could definitely give any team in the Bigs a run for their money (or, in Oakland’s case, a run for their extremely stringent payroll).
To put it simply, if the Yankees defy the odds and get through the ALDS and the ALCS, NYCFC will have to seek out another venue to play their season finale.
Whether this is a good or bad thing as far as fan experience is concerned is entirely up to you as an individual fan, especially if you’re fond of both the Yankees and NYCFC like myself and wouldn’t mind a trip to Citi Field in Queens. But for the latter team, it poises an issue that is 100% objective.
In 2018, City has accumulated a record of 11-1-4 (W-L-D) withing the confines of Yankee Stadium. To say that is good would be a gross understatement — that is flat-out ridiculous in a league that revolves around its want and desire for competitive parity. You can make jokes about the smaller-than-usual pitch or the poor sight lines all you want; opponents seldom leave 161st Street laughing.
This is an advantage that NYCFC could definitely use against the Union on October 28, especially with Columbus Crew SC biting at the former’s heels for that third place spot in the Eastern Conference. That advantage could be taken away should the Yankees go absolutely ballistic and make it to the Fall Classic.
All things considered, is a trip to Citi Field absolutely the worst thing ever? Of course not. Many of the club’s fans are based in Queens, so the turnout would likely be pretty good. Also, it’s not like they played poor there last year when they drew Columbus 2-2 on Decision Day. As a matter of fact, it probably would’ve been a 3-2 win had Zack Steffen not stood on his freakin’ head towards the end!
But despite that, playing away from a place where NYCFC has been utterly dominant for the past two seasons isn’t ideal and should not be glossed over. And in a situation that could potentially be do-or-die come October 28, City could use any edge they can get.
For fans, we can be grateful that such issues will not exist past Game 5. And if the Yankees flame out in either the ALDS or ALCS, these concerns will become invalid, albeit at the expense of my love for the Yankees.
But for now, it’s a legitimate concern.