I'm a Yankee fan, which I realize comes with its own magnet for certain animosities, grudges, jealousies, and what have you, but I can't shake it; they're just my team. My parents used to take me to games when I was a kid, and I remember sitting though long summer nights, watching WPIX, with Mattingly, Winfield, Henderson, and Pags playing their hearts out, only to come up short through that rotten run of the '80s and early '90s. And then, of course, the mid-'90s glory days hit, and the Yankees were again the hot commodity and a staple in October.
I have fond memories of cool October nights listening to the Yankees inch their way to another ring, and I remember just as clearly some of the heart-breakers: the 1997 ALCS, Game Seven of the 2001 World Series, and of course, that dreaded 2004 ALCS against the hated Red Sox.
But the Yankees aren't in the playoffs this year, and the only real story they've been attached to this October has been that Joe Torre, after being run out of town for too many postseason failures, made it to the League Championship Series with his new team. They also have the misfortune of being in the same division as the two teams who just got done slugging it out in the ALCS.
It's quiet now in the Bronx, the wrecking ball is waiting to swing itself at that old baseball cathedral, where just a month ago YES reporters and former players and coaches, not named Torre or Clemens, were getting weepy-eyed as the Yankees' brass sprawled out a public funeral for their beloved home. So they say goodbye as they get ready to move into their new corporate headquarters next door.
There's something a little more sinister about the way the Yankees have been conducting business lately. Maybe it started with low-balling Joe to move him out and make way for the Girardi era, or maybe it's the way they were willing to rip down the "most famous ballpark in the world," just so they can hike the prices up next door.
Maybe it's way that you know they are going to unload the bank for as many big free agents they think can get them back to October next year.
And maybe this is why I'm not missing the Yankees in the postseason this year.
Now I know this might sound like heresy, and maybe it seems like I'm secretly sporting a Red Sox jersey, but it's the truth. For a fan, the playoffs bring their own unique anxieties. I won't miss, for instance, hearing Joe Buck's voice get low and dramatic as Fox flashes a statistic across the screen in a critical game situation.
I won't miss A-Rod being a magnet to crucial runners in scoring position situations.
And I won't miss teams like the Angels or Indians or the newly-dangerous Rays making the Yankees look slow and old, like a "pitiful giant," to borrow a line from Richard Nixon. Or watch the Red Sox make them look nervous and incompetent.
And of course, I won't miss any end of the world, doomsday prophecies thrown down from Mount Steinbrenner when things start looking bleak, with phrases like "big changes" and "different direction" sprinkled in.
So I don't miss any of that, for now. The Rays are going to the World Series and may be the team to beat for a long time. The Red Sox aren't going anywhere either, and the Blue Jays loom as well, just a big bat away from clawing their way into contention.
So maybe it's better the Yankees had a long winter this year. Maybe it's time for them to figure out who they are: a team full of superstars and talented players who are going to play in sporadic bursts of brilliance, or a team that is going to be able to grind it out with these young, hungry teams who are anxious to take them down.
But for right now, it's October, and it's quiet in the Bronx, and I don't really mind.