When the 2010 MLB Playoffs began, almost everyone who watches or cares for baseball penciled the New York Yankees in as a probable World Series participant. A great deal of folks also had the Yankees winning it all,...again. Ah,...the Texas Rangers say "Not so Fast," and are exposing the Yankees for what they are, OLD.
Several things about this year's version of the Bronx Bombers are the same as always. The Yankees payroll exceeds $200 million. Derek Jeter is at shortstop, and the No. 1 closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera, is waiting in the bullpen to douse the hopes and dreams of opposing hitters.
What fans of the game of baseball are witnessing during this ALCS is the realization that save for a few young stars like Robinson Cano and CC Sabathia, the New York Yankees are just plain old.
Sure the argument can be made that baseball is a sport in which men play well into their 30s, and are productive players during that age range. The Yankees have several front-line players that are on the near-side of 40, including Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.
Mariano the Great (Rivera) will be 41 next month, and Posada is just shy of 12 months away from his 40th birthday. Andy Pettitte is 38, and pitching just OK of late. Lance Berkman will turn 35 before the start of next season, Rodriguez is already 35 and Jeter is 36.
The tip-off for all those watching the ALCS are the plays and hits we have become accustomed to seeing these guys make just aren't there anymore. Starting pitching is not lasting long enough to get to Rivera, and balls that used to be routine grabs for Jeter are finding left field more often than not.
Aside from Cano, the rest of the Yankee lineup is struggling to hit the baseball. Texas has 40-plus base hits in four games thus far, the Yankees have just over 20. The Rangers are batting over .300 with runners on base in this series, the Yankees are closer to the Mendoza line in that category.
Game 4 exposed a crack in the Yankees' armor as manager Joe Girardi stayed with starter A.J. Burnett in the sixth inning. By not bringing in a reliever, much to the dismay of Yankee fans, Bengie Molina hit a go-ahead three-run homer.
Don't blame Girardi for not making the call to the bullpen. It's not like he could call on anyone who hasn't been battered by the Rangers already. The middle of the sixth inning is also way too soon to bring in the closer, even Mariano Rivera.
Reality should set in for the Yankees and their fans sometime after Game 5 when Texas will celebrate its first World Series berth in the team's 50-year franchise history. The Rangers will do the partying in New York, which will add additional insult to injury for lovers of the Pinstriped ones.
The Steinbrenner clan will have the dubious task of re-tooling a roster of aging stars in the coming years. Doing so will mean that perhaps the Yankees will see a few seasons outside of the playoff picture. It will also mean Yankee fans, and fans of the game of baseball may say goodbye to iconic figures like Jeter and Rivera.
A-Rod and his massive contract will be hard to deal with, but he has underachieved during this postseason, and Yankees brass will be wise to explore all possibilities where he is concerned. The check book of the Brothers Steinbrenner will not allow New York to stay down for long, but get ready for them to be down.
Having the New York Yankees not in the hunt for another World Championship can only be good for the game right? The Yankees winning titles seemingly every year feels a lot like their roster...it's just getting old.
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