MOHEGAN LAKE, N.Y. – The New York Yankees fell far short in their bid for a 28th championship last year, but fans are confident the Bronx Bombers will be right in the thick of the World Series title hunt in 2012.
"Oh my God, I can't wait," said die-hard Yankees fan Clara Sanchez, whose favorite players are Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. "They need to win this year. Yankees all the way! I'm very excited."
The Yankees begin their championship quest Friday on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays. Their home opener at Yankee Stadium is April 13 against the Baltimore Orioles.
James Keogh of Putnam Valley, shopping for bats at Modell's at the Cortlandt Town Center, is a lifelong Yankees fan who feels pitching will carry the team.
"I'm totally confident," Keogh said. "Championship No. 28. I think so."
Mark Barbalato of Briarcliff Manor, enjoying an afternoon with his daughters, Julia, 10, and Caroline, 7, at Yorktown Golf and Baseball Center, can't wait for the season to get under way.
"I am looking forward to it. I love it," he said. "We have deep pitching and a deep bullpen."
Barbalato, 39, is also happy with the return of pitcher Andy Pettitte and was glad to see Kentucky win the NCAA basketball championship, since the last six times the Wildcats have cut down the nets, the Yankees have raised the trophy.
"I am superstitious so I'll take it," he said of Kentucky's good fortune. "Pettitte is about my age, and I associate the Yankees' renaissance with Andy Pettitte."
Although he's a Mets fan, Modell's assistant manager Eli Sanchez said the success of New York sports teams translates to profits for Modell's.
"We had the Giants, then Linsanity with the Knicks and the Rangers," he said. "Anytime our teams are winning, we are busy. Once Opening Day comes around, that's when it will start sinking in, and we'll be ready."
The most popular Yankees jerseys at Modell's: Jeter, A-Rod, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira.