Thursday, September 26, 2013

End of an era

So there we have it. We have had Mariano Rivera day, complete with ceremony. It was also fitting that on the same day, Andy Pettitte pitched his last home game for the Yankees.

During the ceremony for Mo, it was easy to see that this is the end of an era. The Yankees are losing 2 more of the dynasty that was the mid to late ‘90s Yankees. Only one of the Core Four remains now (Derek Jeter) and who knows how much longer The Captain will be around. It was great to see the Core Four all together, along with other players from the late ‘90s, especially Bernie and Tino. It really did hark back to the time when the Yankees were seemingly unbeatable and people feared them.

In what has been a bit of a low season, Sunday was a chance for Yankees fans to be happy once again. It was a chance to reminisce and to remember better times. With this in mind, Andy and Mo then did what they do best, pitch brilliantly. Ok, so Andy gave up a homer and allowed a double just before being pulled but he allowed only 2 hits all night. Mo obviously did what Mo has been doing, it seems like forever. Unfortunately, the Yankees offense couldn’t give them any assistance and it’s hard to imagine now, what will happen next year when Andy and Mo are gone.

From comments I saw on various social media outlets after the game, it seems that most people have overlooked or ignored the loss and have, rightly, focussed on the two main guys of the night. It was a tough loss and one that pretty much ended the Yankees hopes of making the postseason this year (I appreciate we have now been eliminated outright) but Sunday was more about saying goodbye to old friends.

There is no doubt that they will both be missed and will leave a large gap. With Jeter’s injuries this year, I give him one more season at most before he retires and we will have lost all of the Core Four.

We’ve known this day was coming for some time. Obviously, Mo announced this was his last season earlier this year and everything has been building to this point. I think it’s been pretty obvious that Andy would retire this year as well, albeit he wanted to do it in a more low key way. It will be interesting to see how Jeter announces his retirement as I’m sure he would have a tour just like Mo in his final season.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, I don’t see another dynasty era coming any time soon. These guys were special. They were and still are icons of the sport and true ambassadors of how the game should be played. I think you would struggle to find a nicer group of guys.

What the Yankees currently have is a team that is really struggling, through injuries and underperformance. If the whole team was healthy, then we could win games and make a real challenge to go deep into October but even then, it would lack what guys like Andy, Mo, Derek and Jorge brought. It would lack that true brotherhood of guys who played together in the minors and have come through their major league careers together (though not always in the same team).

Ultimately, the Yankees have a team of top players (generally speaking) with a good number of star names. The problem here is that the majority of these guys have been brought in from other teams, almost in a bid to make a “super” team. I don’t doubt that these guys will play as a team and as brothers but I can’t help but see them in a way as mercenaries and given a chance of more money, would go elsewhere. The camaraderie of the Core Four is missing and this is what will be missed the most with Andy and Mo retiring.

We are losing two more genuinely nice guys who have been at the top of their games with the Yankees and have carved themselves out as true Yankee legends. I don’t think many of the other current Yankees could say this. These guys have seen the highs and the lows of being a Yankee and have stuck with it. They have given the fans years of enjoyment and have played with dignity and respect.

That is why the Yankees gave Mo the 50 minute ceremony (including, of course, Metallica playing live). It is also why both Andy and Mo got huge roars from the crowd. They were both clearly touched and humbled by the response of the fans and again, this is part of what makes them legends. They have not taken the fan appreciation for granted.

So, when we reach the end of the season and these two legends retire, it will be the end of an era, but not the final end. This will come when Jeter retires and the countdown to that must surely have begun at the weekend.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)