Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: The Yankee season ends where it began... an old, bloated team going nowhere
Posted by el duque at 7:04 AM
John Sterling was wrong: You can predict baseball.
In April, few Yankee fans offered great hopes. The infield looked shaky. Nobody understood why we invested four years into Chase Headley, while the boy owner, Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner was touting fiscal restraint. We wondered about Stephen Drew, we feared the inevitable injuries to Tex, Gardner, Ellsbury, CC, etc., and when A-Rod strode to the plate, you heard mostly boos. We saw a team that, with luck, would win a few more games than it lost. And you know what?
The 2015 Yankees proved to be exactly the old and tired team we expected them to be in April. It just took 163 games to show up.
You know something else? I'm glad it's over. I'm glad they shot themselves in the head rather than torture us over a week, ripping off the Band-aid, inch by inch. This wasn't death row in Oklahoma. This was humane.
Fact is, this team has been stone-cold dead for a month. We were just stuck in Elizabeth Kubler Ross's first stage of grief - Denial. Today, we can finally move into Stage Number 2: Anger.
And let's come to grips with something: Our brief fling atop the AL East came about mostly because the AL East was - back in June - baseball's worst division. And when everything started collapsing, we turned to that ultimate crutch - no, not booze - but the extra one-game wild card slot - our mirage, our new definition of "the post-season."
It's over. Or at least, this year is.
The fact is, we are probably closer to the beginning of this long-term malaise than to the end.
That's because the Yankees still do one thing really well: Self-congratulation. They spent the month of July handing out awards - A-Rod won Comeback, Brian Cashman would make the Hall of Fame, everybody's number would be retired - and in September, it was their incredible prospects - Greg Bird and Luis Severino - bedrocks of a future resurgence. But if you compare them to the talent regularly bubbling up in other teams, we are middle of the pack. Right where we were at the start of the season.
In any other franchise, heads would roll. (Boston, Seattle and California have all changed GMs.) But we know how this will shake out. Some obscure strength coach, or minor league manager - (they already cut loose their man at Scranton) - will walk the plank. Joe Girardi - and there is no kind way to say this - had an absolutely terrible year as manager. But he will probably return. And Cashman - by orchestrating Billy Eppler's move to California - has eliminated his primary successor. Once again, he displays his greatest genius: Surviving without success.
Well, there's always next year: Season three of Ellsbury's seven-year deal. Does anybody expect Tex, A-Rod, Beltran and CC to improve?
In the great seasons of 1996-2000, the Yankees often stumbled in May, then rallied at the end. These Yankee teams surge in May and spend the rest of the season watching water drain from the tub.
Well, it's over. And The Master is wrong. You can predict baseball. The trouble is, when the future is as bleak as ours, who wants to?