Sunday, September 22, 2013

You Say Goodbye [To Mo], And I Say Hello

I figured as The Greedy Pinstripes begins a new "era" merged with Yankees Fans Unite, I thought talking about the end of an era in Yankees history would be a fitting way to debut on the site.

So, I'm Brian Danuff, a 15-year old Yankees fan who has been blogging about them since I was nine. Yes, nine. I'm not sure where my passion for the team came from; my uncle, who's a die-hard fan, I rarely see, and my parents are more on the "casual" side of the fanbase. But nevertheless, since around 2006 I've tuned in each and every day to watch the Yankees play ball.

If you didn't do the math already (I don't blame you, I hate math), I was only a baby when the Dynasty took place in the late-1990s. This infuriates me very much, but God did make up for it by allowing me to see the Yankees win the 2009 World Series live.

Anyway, those late-90s teams were probably some of the best clubs ever assembled in Yankees history. They had everything - depth, heart, character, passion, experience, and most of all, youth, which was very uncommon for George Steinbrenner's Yankees. He loved him some mid-30 year-olds who he knew could get the job done,but upper management convinced the Boss to give the "kids" a shot.

Those kids' names were Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera.

It's almost like beating a dead horse, but it's too amazing to not bring up how these four youngsters came up and immediately made an impact. They all were integral parts of each championship team, aside from Jorge in '96 who of course didn't play his first full season until 1998.

Still, as young as they were they carried themselves as if they were seasoned veterans. In front of a packed house at Yankee Stadium in the middle of October, they stayed even-keeled and almost never cracked under pressure.

With four rings in their possession, these "core" Yankees went into the 21st century with new contracts and new roles - that of leaders. Derek Jeter was named the 11th official captain of the team in June of 2003, and Mo, Andy, and Jorge all became role models for incoming Bombers. They knew what it took to win, and handled the New York spotlight with class, something that is very difficult to do for even the most calm and collected player.

Amidst an offseason of turmoil, Andy Pettitte slipped through the cracks and signed with the Houston Astros in 2004. Still, GM Brian Cashman tried his hardest to surround the remaining three with talent capable of winning even more championships, but from 2002-2008 the team reached the World Series only once, in 2003, losing to the Florida Marlins in six games.

Andy did re-join the Yankees in 2007, so the band got back together in a sense, making a return to the top seem imminent. After spending over $400 million on free agent talent, the Yankees had a World Series-caliber team in 2009. And wouldn't you know it, led by an MVP-caliber season from Derek Jeter, a 14-win campaign from Andy Pettitte, 22 home runs from Jorge Posada, and 44 saves from Mariano Rivera, the Yankees reached the Fall Classic again, 14 years after the old guard's first World Series in 1996.

And like in '96, it took six games for the Yankees to win it. With Mo on the mound, Jorge behind the plate, Jeter at short, and Andy looking on after a gritty performance, the Phillies' Shane Victorino grounded out to second and as Joe Buck said, "The Yankees are back on top! World Champions for a 27th time!"

But for the Core Four, it was the fifth time they hoisted the Commissioner's Trophy. It had been nine years since their last championship, and yet it felt like a continuation of a Dynasty that realistically had ended. Now grizzled vets, they were all still at the top of their game, and that's just how it was way back when they were fresh-faced rookies.

Unfortunately, the Yankees reverted back to their mid-2000s stage, being good, but not good enough. On top of that was the retirement of Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada within the same calendar year. That left just Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, but they kept steam-rolling along as Jeet collected his 3,000th hit and Mo his 602nd save in 2011.

Years ago they made the jump from good, to great players, but #2 and #42 were now immortal, legendary figures in baseball history. Realizing this, and the fact that a chance for a 28th championship was there lured Andy Pettitte out of retirement for the 2012 season.

However, all three of them suffered tremendous blows to their careers. Mariano tore his ACL shagging a fly ball in Kansas City, ending his season in May. Andy made only a handful of starts before being hit in the leg by a line-drive which sidelined him for three months. And, finally, the Captain broke his ankle fielding a ground ball in the ALCS.

There was no longer a need to question their baseball mortality.

Now, it is September 22nd, 2013, and two of the remaining three Core Fourers are hanging up their spikes. This afternoon marks the final time Andy Pettitte will toe the rubber at the new Yankee Stadium, and also one of the final days Mariano sits in the bullpen awaiting "Enter Sandman" to blare from the Stadium's speakers. Derek Jeter will watch it all unfold from the bench, still tending to his ankle that was broken in October and re-broken in April.

It will be very emotional, and incredibly interesting to see how the Yankees will honor Mo and Andy. These two pitchers have stood the test of time, and probably could give it another go in 2014 if they so pleased. But, as my late grandpa perfectly said, "all good things must come to an end", and today is the end of a glorious era in Yankee history.

Derek Jeter will in all likelihood play next season, but his "brothers" will be gone. His ability to throw it back to the 90s with his teammates is gone. And the memories of fans showing up each year to cheer number 46 on, and then erupt when number 42 jogs in from the bullpen, become just that - memories.

Overall, will this be a sad day? Of course. But this should also be a day to reflect and think back to all the great moments that I witnessed while soiling myself in a playpen. It just goes to show how long these guys have been here, and how much longer their pinstriped legacy will live on through all current and future Yankees fans.

Long-live Andy Pettitte, and long-live the greatest closer of all time, number 42, Mariano Rivera. Number 42.


  1. Well said Brian and welcome to the team. The core four will never be replicated again and that goes to show you just how special these four guys really were.

  2. How are you 15? Great piece of work here...and welcome to the group!

    1. I thought the same thing myself when I read it.

    2. Thanks guys, means a lot! Looking forward to a lot of interesting discussions here on the site!


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