Alex Rodriguez has become the focal point of the Yankees fans blame game.
In the wake of their four-game sweep out of the American League Championship Series, the New York Yankees have had to endure an onslaught of finger-pointing and harsh criticism for their anemic results against the Detroit Tigers.
It seems that everyone from the most casual of fans to the so-called "experts" have taken to social media sites and more traditional publications in an effort to single out the reasons for the Bombers' failures.
They need to chill out, step back and look at what occurred more objectively.
There is little doubt that the Yankees just couldn't hit when they needed to the most in the ALCS. It has been documented to death and many have over-reacted by focusing on the team's age, its injuries and its payroll. To read the many laments, you would think the Yankees had just finished in fifth place, 26 games back, and fired their media-favorite manager (yes, that was a subtle dig at their rivals from Boston).
The fact is that this was a very successful season and the "boys from the Bronx" just ran into a buzz-saw.
Let's take a deep breath, sit back and look at a few of the real reasons why they didn't reach the World Series.
Verlander and the Tigers starters raised the level of their play in the final month.
While Justin Verlander is given the majority of the credit for the Tigers' success on the mound—and rightly so—the performance of the rest of the rotation can't be overlooked.
Over the final 10 games of the regular season, the Detroit starting five pitched 60.1 innings and gave up just 13 runs (a 1.93 ERA) and a combined 63 walks and hits (a 1.04 WHIP). Over that span, they struck out nearly a batter per inning (56).
They took that performance to another level in the divisional series against hot-hitting Oakland. In the five games against the Athletics, the Tiger starters gave up just three earned runs in 34.1 innings (an incredible 0.79 ERA) and had an 0.82 WHIP (28 hits plus walks).
The Yankees just happened to face a pitching staff that is only now realizing its full potential. The ALCS was only a continuation of Detroit's starters sudden dominance.
The bottom line is that no other team, not the Rangers and not the Orioles, was going to hit against the Tiger staff. The Detroit starters were not going to be denied. The Yankees were just the next victim in line.
The Tigers hitting with runners in scoring position heated up over the final two weeks
Like their pitching staff, the Tigers hitters raised the level of their game over the final two weeks of the season.
During the regular season, Detroit led all of baseball with a .286 batting average with runners in scoring position.
In the final 10 games of the regular season, the Tigers hit .254. And in the divisional playoffs against the Oakland A's they continued to hit well with men on second or third (or both), going nine for 36 (.250) with nine RBI and 15 runs scored.
Against the Yankees in the ALCS, things were no different as the Tigers hit .295 over the four-game sweep.
No team during 2012 was able to suppress the ability of the Tigers to drive men home when they should. The Yankees were no different.
Triple Crown player Miguel Cabrera anchors an imposing heart of the order for the Tigers
The Tigers' No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters hit .318 with 14 RBI and 10 runs scored over the final 10 games of the regular season, And while the A's were able to somewhat quiet the "Big Three" in the Tigers' lineup (they hit .224 in the A.L. Divisional Series), the Yankees could not.
In the ALCS, the Tigers' highly publicized trio hit .300 with 10 RBI and 7 runs scored. Frankly, as they had been all season against other opponents, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Delmon Young were too much for the Yankees to handle.
Even though it took two-thirds of the season for the heart of the Tigers' lineup to put it together, those three hitters are peaking at just the right time. New York just had the misfortune of having to meet them for the AL crown.
Led by manager Jim Leyland, the Tigers are rolling towards a World Championship
Success in sports often depends on hitting your stride at the right time. Like the New York Giants of the NFL last season, the Detroit Tigers are now playing their best on the way to the World Series.
Whether an extended break between the ALCS and World Series will sap the momentum they've established is yet to be determined, but given that they have played their best baseball over the past month bodes well for them.
One thing is certain: the Detroit Tigers should be applauded for their stellar play in the series against the Yankees. Fans of the Bombers shouldn't look for blame as to why they lost. Instead, they should look at why the Tigers won.
Simply put, the best team won, and the Yankees should be celebrated for going as far as they did given the hurdles they had to overcome throughout the season (key injuries to starting pitchers, the loss of Mariano Rivera, the injury to Brett Gardner, etc.).
Yes, they did not perform up to the level they established in having the best record in the American League, but they ran into a team rolling toward a title.