For the last five years, Yankee fans have dreamed that when Mariano Rivera hangs it up, his final pitches will secure win number four in the World Series. Well, we know how that’s going to turn out, too.Nobody will ever have to unbolt Mariano’s statue, but the unlucky number, 2013, looms like a polluted aquifer, boiling up from the ground like nothing we’ve seen since 1993. Yesterday, the experts at River Ave (a great blog, btw) were lamenting how underwhelming this team looks, and casually noting that they are too young to remember the early 1990s – the 14 year barf.
A generation of Yankee bloggers is about to experience the world when the Yankees lose more often than not.Oh, I’m sure some readers are shaking their heads, thinking that I’m overstating the dour situation at hand: The team is too big to fail; it might not win the AL East, but it’ll surely take a Wild Card. I’m sorry, folks. But a baseball storm is coming, and it’s going to make Sandy look like the wrong Alomar.
It’s coming, folks, a Nor’easter like nothing Sam Champion has ever seen. It’s coming to a home run bandbox that still has no soul, that turns a five-tool player into the all-time Yankee season strikeout king. It’s coming to a front office whose leadership is going through a mid-life crisis, staking embarrassments atop fiascos, creating headlines that would end careers in other organization. It’s coming to an ownership without a strategy, which watched while MLB rewrote the rules, making the Yankees equal to the KC Royals. It’s coming to a team without one prospect who has excelled beyond Single A – and let’s face it: Down in Tampa, everybody is a prospect.I look at the Yankee lineup and cringe. Halfway into spring training, we’re hoping that Russ Canzler gets dropped by Baltimore, so we can snap him up like kids at a piñata party. We’re scanning the waiver wires not for 25th spot on the roster, but for the fourth hitter in our batting order. David Phelps – God bless him – has gone from the bullpen lugnut to our No. 4 starter, and we’re penciling in Ivan Nova – the biggest disappointment in 2012 - for 40 quality starts. There isn’t a player in our lineup who isn’t a health risk. For five years, we’ve been trying to groom a defensive replacement for Derek Jeter, and we still don’t have a guy who can throw the ball to first base.
Listen: We’re about to experience a summer when Met players occupy the back pages, and the late night comics tell jokes about the Yankees. We’re about to revisit a time when the mighty Yankees – Evil Empire, what a joke! – become the media’s definition of mediocrity: We spend more than anybody else, and yet we lose. We’re about to see an era when star players refuse to come to New York because of the negative vibes, and the sparse stadium crowds are not yelling “Youk,” and when they cheer ex-Yankees for beating their old teammates.I just hope Mariano has not stayed too long. It’s hard to imagine him going out with anything less than great Yankee dignity. But five years ago, that’s they would have said in Happy Valley. Look to the skies, people. It’s getting dark.