Friday, August 15, 2014

A cold, hard wind is about to blow through the Yankiverse, and life is not going to be the same

Tonight, the Evil Empire plays the Devil Rays, a team that statistically has left even more runners in scoring position this season than the Yankees have. (Yep, I looked it up. The Yankees are actually in the middle of the RISP pack, though this could be a factor of their inability to put runners in scoring position.) Tampa has turned back into a pumpkin, back to 6th place in a five-team division, playing before 127 friends and neighbors per night, behind a sound-effects cacophony that rattles John and Suzyn, and with no reason whatsoever to bust a gonad against the Yankees. They recently dumped their best pitcher, David Price, and the smell of stewed tomatoes should be gurgling from the dugout steps. And yet, they'll run through fences to beat us. And if Tampa sweeps us, they will pass us in the standings.

Here's the sickest part of all: A voice inside me is yelling, "Yes, yes, yes... bring it on!"

I am one of those morose, bi-polar, obnoxious,Yankee fan lifers - the kind who believe the Yankees are sacred, special, and that they should always play for more than a mere one-game wild card appearance, or to win just one world series every 10 years. In my life, I've witnessed three Yankee dynasties - the teams of Mickey, of Thurman, and of Jeter/Rivera. Between each, we suffered through a cruel darkness of five to 10 seasons, when the team trotted out the Hosses and the Maases (A shout-out to No Maas, a great site.) Friends, you can feel the coldness, the brutality, on the wind. We are heading into just such a period.

Maybe it is the roller coaster ride of history, or the cruel folly of inherited money, or the law of karma, or the reality of hubris. I dunno. Maybe this has to happen, and nothing we do can prevent it. I frickin' donno. I only know what I've seen, and - friends - a cold, harsh wind is blowing our way.

Yesterday, upstate New York felt like a meat locker. A chill whipped through Syracuse, rattled your bones, withered all erections and chased people inside. You needed a flack jacket. It was football weather, apple weather, storm windows weather, October weather. Summer is on the run, and in these parts, nobody ever takes next spring for granted. A lifetime can happen between November and April. There are no guarantees - except this: A cold, hard wind is coming. You better have boots.

This wind will blow away the Yankees, as we know them. Before it's done, Brian Cashman will leave, and though he certainly has his critics, his successor - or successors - will have theirs, as well. Joe Girardi may or may not survive this storm. A bunch of players - or "contracts," as the Yankees seem to view them - will vanish. It's possible the Mets will rule New York for a while. All is not lost: Perhaps somewhere in that dense thicket of a farm system, the next great Yankee is now lacing his spikes. But we cannot buy our way out of this. The next great Yankee team must evolve from youth. If we sign John Lester, we'll simply be rewarding him for beating us while he pitched for Boston. Any veteran pitcher we sign will always be a tweak away from collapse. A cold, hard wind is coming, folks, and it's going to stay a while.

Tonight - well - who knows? Maybe we'll rise up, rip the top off Tropicana Field and launch a 10-game winning streak, which would vault us back into the Wild Card race. (That's a joke, by the way). Just as likely, we will lose two out of three. If we are swept, Tampa would pass us in the standings, leaving us to ponder a fire sale rather than a Chris Sale. (That's not a joke, by the way.) Maybe if happens now, rather than three weeks from now, we can somehow dump a contract. Would some team, within a big bat of a championship, take Carlos Beltran off our hands? That might be what we should be hoping for.

Friends, a cold, hard wind is blowing. It's going to stay a while. When it's finished with us, nothing will be the same. Stay warm.

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