Hard to believe, but it's been 10 years since Joe Torre's bullpen levy crumbled, flooding the famous "Bridge to Mariano" and drowning Yankee hopes at the hands of the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim, or whatever they called themselves - that insufferable Rally Monkey team. Ever since - despite a quick, store-bought glimmer in 2009 - the franchise has never rebuilt itself. For reasons of leadership, money, bureaucracy and hubris, the team continues to flounder. Heck of a job, Hally.
Ten years ago, here was the Yankee lineup. (Warning: The numbers are graphic and may be disturbing to younger fans.)
This, my friends, was a batting order. Considering what Yankee fans now experience, this lineup is painful to remember. The lowest average on the 2005 team - .241 - belongs to Tino Martinez, who hit 17 HR in limited duty.
Today, our highest BA is Brett Gardner's .273. And our three-hole hitter - the aging, dilapidated A-Rod - is down to .255. With the exception of 1B and C - both players now have CF plaques - every position on the 2005 team hits better than today's offering. Yeesh.
And if you're wondering about the bench, the 2005 team had Reuben Sierra to pinch hit. We have - what - Chris Jones?
But wait, 90 percent of baseball is pitching, pitching, pitching, right? So how did the team look before Katrina?
Again, 2005 looks pretty nice, compared to today's troops. The Big Unit was in his first incarnation, Mussina was going relatively strong, Chien-Ming Wang was rising, and of course, Aaron Small, Tanyon Sturtze and Shawn Chacon were Cashman's scrap heap jewels. (This year, Cashman has not picked anyone of note off the recycling pile. He may have been thinking of practical jokes for his Sports Illustrated profile, which - by the way - nominates him for the Hall of Fame.)
Ten years ago, Joe Torre soaked the bullpen in gasoline and lit the Scott Proctor match. He never did find anyone who could pitch the seventh and eighth. With the Bridge flooded - "six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline" - everything went underwater. We actually lost to a team with Scott Spiezio playing 1B.
So here's one advantage in 2015: The bullpen. It hasn't yet fully collapsed, like the batting order seems to have done. If so, the Yankees can still outdo their 2005 counterparts, but they better patch up the holes fast. The 2005 team won the division. Right now, we're looking at a one-game wild card. There's a lot of water yet to spill over the dam.