"Dear Yankees, we don't date losers! Signed New Yorkers."
That was the headline on the front page of the New York Post the day after the Yankees were swept out of the ALCS by the Detroit Tigers, relaying the overwhelming sentiment of disgust and disappointment that has swept through Yankee nation.
I'm a Mets fan, so to say that seeing Yankee misery doesn't make me secretly crack a grin is not being honest. With the exception of a brief period in the late 1980s, being the only Mets fan in a family full of Yankee fans has left me the subject of ridicule more often than not, with the ultimate disappointment coming in the fall of 2000.
Needless to say, I openly root against the Yankees every chance I get, with the exception of the 2009 World Series, since there was no way I was ever going to root for the Philadelphia Phillies, so normally I would revel in any Yankee torment.
This time, however, it was different. This time, as I stood in line at my local WaWa waiting to pay for my pre-workday coffee and staring at this cover of the Post, I was actually angered.
Well, honestly, I chuckled at first, but the more I thought about it, the more the cover of that newspaper made me think that Yankee nation had finally gone crazy. Seriously, are we really at a point where we call a team that had the best record in the American League losers?
Unfortunately, that has kind of become the norm in the Bronx, as seemingly everyone associated with the Bombers has taken on the mindset of the old "Steinbrenner Doctrine," or the thought that anything other than a championship is a failure. It's maddening to listen to Yankee fans who believe this, and it is really time for them to be brought back to reality.
Honestly, Yankee fans should be jumping for joy that they even made it to the ALCS. Sure, nobody likes to lose, let alone get swept, once they make it that far.
However, this is not the same team that dominated the late 1990s and early 2000s. Hell, it's not even the team that beat the Phillies in the 2009 World Series. It's time to take the pinstriped-colored glasses off and see this team for what it really is, a team in decline.
Moreover, the fact that this team won 95 games this year, in a division that saw three teams win at least 90, is nothing short of amazing.
To paraphrase Dennis Green, the Yankees are who we thought they were, a great regular season team who is not built to win a title. They are old and getting older by the minute; they strike out way too often and rely too much on the longball; and outside of CC Sabathia, they have suspect pitching.
Of course, somebody forgot to relay this message to Yankee nation, as this inferior team is still expected to live up to the same standards as the great Yankee rosters that won championships.
Newsflash to Yankee fans: Alex Rodriguez is nearing 40 and is a constant injury risk. Mark Teixeira is not the hitter he was when the Yankees signed him. Curtis Granderson has become a one-dimensional hitter at the plate with a penchant for striking out. Your second most reliable pitcher is an old guy who was retired just a year ago.
Like it or not, all those statements are true, and not one of them screams "World Series champion."
Sure, in the end, the undoing of the Yankees was ironically their hitting, but when you are a team that lives and dies with the home run, sometimes, you're going to die. The most recent Yankee championship teams won in part because they took pitches, made contact and strung together quality at-bats—they didn't swing wildly at balls three feet off the plate or in the dirt.
It would have taken the likes of Nostradamus to predict that the Yankees would go into a team-wide slump, but anyone who knows baseball knows that slumps happen to everyone. If it happens in June, chances are nobody gives it a second thought.
Forgive me for piling on, but unless something major changes before next season, Yankee fans in 2013 may be wishing for the days they made the playoffs only to lose.
The division has two young, talented teams in Baltimore and Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays were a tough out all season, even after they lost Jose Bautista, and the Red Sox are sure to do everything they can to return to being, well, the Red Sox.
Speaking of the Red Sox, any Yankee fan who still doesn't see the writing on the wall need look no further than what happened this season to their rivals in Beantown, where an aging lineup, suspect pitching, bloated payroll, and a manager who alienated his players led to one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
Which brings us to the manager, Joe Girardi. Sure, he was put in a no-win situation by the performance of his offense, but sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war.
Anyone who thinks the pinch-hitting for, and benchings of, Alex Rodriguez won't be a problem going into next season needs to revisit the Bobby V/Youkilis fiasco. The only difference being, nobody is going to take on the player formerly known as A-Rod, and any general manager who does is surely signing his own pink slip.
The Yankees do have deep pockets, and more than competent baseball people, so it's very possible they will be able to right the ship during the offseason. If they don't, Yankee fans will surely still demand a championship, even when, much like this season, all the signs show that this is not a championship-caliber team.
It's time for Yankee fans to see their team for what it is, and just enjoy the moment. It may not last much longer.
Of course, as a Mets fan, I'll have plenty of time to relish in the Yankees miseries, as the baseball season in Queens seems to always end by the All-Star break.
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