Friday, October 7 – 4:28 PM
You see, I’m not your stereotypical Yankee fan. I’m not arrogant. I don’t assume that we’ll win the World Series every year. I’m not infuriated with A-Rod, Teixeira and Swisher, even though all three are coming off horrendous performances in the series that ended last night the same way 2010 ended, with a Rodriguez strikeout. Disappointed? Yes. Devastated? Not so much. The truth is that the Tigers are an excellent team, a well-balanced group led by two elite players, a first baseman who is in the thick of the MVP discussion every year and a starting pitcher who will win the AL Cy Young, almost surely in a unanimous vote. But the thing about the Tigers is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I just never got that feeling about the 2011 Yankees. The season will be remembered for Jeter’s 3,000th hit and Mariano’s 602nd save, both tremendous personal accomplishments. There weren’t a lot of team moments though, a ninth inning rally capped off by a walk-off hit. I don’t remember too many of those.
I’m not your stereotypical Yankee fan. I don’t expect Seattle to hand us Felix Hernandez for a bunch of prospects just because we can afford to sign King Felix to a lucrative long-term contract extension. One guy even called in to a local radio station today suggesting a Teixeira for Hernandez swap! I got a good kick out of that. Like the small-market Mariners would want to pay Tex 20-plus million bucks a year for the next five years. Will we overpay for C.J. Wilson, the lone high-end starting pitcher available on the free agent market this winter? Maybe. But chances are the 2012 squad will look a lot like the 2011 version. And unlike your stereotypical Yankee fan, I don’t see this as such a bad thing. A few pieces here, a few pieces there, and who knows, perhaps we can recapture that ’09 magic.
Walking the city streets today, it was hard to ignore the Yankee hangover. Bleary-eyed fans were eager to vent. I must have gotten into about four separate conversations in the span of an hour, some longer than others but all full of opinions as to what went wrong and ideas as to how to fix it. Why didn’t Girardi remove A-Rod from the cleanup spot? Why in the world did he use CC out of the pen last night when Hughes was looking so sharp? Swisher needs to go. Gardner should be traded while his stock is high. After wrapping up an in-depth chat with my building’s doorman, who knows his stuff, I’m standing in line in the bank and this guy I’ve never seen before, noticing the interlocking NY on my hat, comes up to me. “What’s wrong with A-Rod?” he asks. “It has to be the steroids.” Clearly, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, so I need to censor myself here. Keep it simple. Politely, I shrug my shoulders and say something about how there are still six years left on Rodriguez’s contract.
Look, we were all spoiled by those teams of the 90’s, but what’s easy to forget is that if it were not for the homegrown group of Jeter, Pettitte, Posada, Bernie and Mo, that dynasty era never would have existed. I’m looking forward to 2012. Jesus Montero appears to be a star in the making. Banuelos, Betances and Brackman could all make meaningful contributions by season’s end. Patience everyone! Why are we in such a rush to get rid of these guys?
Did I mention that I’m not your stereotypical Yankee fan?