Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Is the Yankees season a bust?

So the Yankees are still fighting in the Wild Card race (along with 5 others) for one of the two Wild Card playoff spots. What happens if we don’t make it? Obviously, we will all be disappointed and it will be the first time since 2008 that we didn’t make the playoffs (and only the second time since 1995 – 18 years!) but does that mean the season will have been a bust?

Let’s think about this. The Yankees are expected to make the playoffs every year, no questions asked and no excuses if they don’t make it. George Steinbrenner was renowned for high expectations and not taking any excuses for poor performance but this time, there may be an argument that we should still be proud to be where we are.

I am like all other Yankees fans and want to see the team succeed, win playoffs and most of all championships. The problem is we do sometimes have to be a bit more pragmatic. Like I pointed out in my last post, the Yankees are an old team and they have seen a huge number of players take trips to the DL. The Yankees have used no less than 56 different players so far this season – 3 shy of the record set by Cleveland in 2002 San Diego in 2002 and 2008.

We’ve had season ending injuries, we’ve had recurring injuries and we’ve had niggly injuries. All of these combined to form what at times has been a real rag tag bunch of ball players, some old, some young, some veterans, some making their debut. No other team has come close to matching the number of unique players used this season. The performance of all these players can only really be described as hit and miss. We’ve seen hot streaks and we’ve seen real cold streaks. Remember May/June when the Yankees were on a real run and showing some good form? It seems like a long time ago now.

The main thing to remember is that all season long, we have fought. At times we have been overwhelmed (Boston being the major antagonists here) and at times we have actually been overwhelming. Despite all of the problems we have had, we have found ways to manufacture wins and keep the season semi respectable.

Let’s get this straight. We are not the World Series winning team of 2009; we are not the team of the late 90’s who could rarely put a foot wrong. We are a team that is in transition. Come the end of the season, we will have people retire (Mo, likely Pettitte), we may lose key players (Cano is a free agent and A-Rod may have to take his suspension), we may have to adapt player’s roles (Jeter).

Nobody knows what the future holds but can we expect the Yankees to bounce straight back next year and be at the top of our game? I’m not sure we can. Hopefully we will have fewer injuries and the lineup will be more consistent but if we look back on this season, you could say it’s been an experiment. Though most definitely, an accidental one as I don’t think anybody would want to go through this. With everything that has happened, we have given certain players who may not have been called up otherwise, a chance to show what they can do. We have been able to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in different situations. We have provided big league experience to guys who otherwise may not have got this for at least another year.

There have been some strange decisions this year regarding who to play/not play and when to take pitchers out of the game but at the end of the day, we are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. A lot has been made of the schedule for our last 13 games and with any luck it will work to our advantage. Right now, all we can do is focus on winning our games. If we can do this and take at least 10 or 11 wins from 13, we can hold our heads high at the end of the season and know that we have done our very best.

At the end of the day, if the Yankees don’t make the playoffs, it will be disappointing but personally, I don’t believe the whole season will have been a bust. We have shown real heart in our games all year and dealt with adversity. We have not rolled over and written off the season (unlike a lot of the analysts!), we have shown real tenacity and that is part of what being a Yankee is all about. We can hold our heads high knowing that we are the Yankees and we have fought all the way. We also know that we will be back and fighting hard again next season.

Obviously, should we make the playoffs and lose in either the wild card playoff or in the divisional championship (most likely to be played against the Red Sox), no doubt people will again claim it’s been a bust. Since halfway through the season nobody expected us to reach the playoffs, I don’t see how it can be.

The Yankees should be proud of their achievements and the fans should be proud of their team.

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