Discussion: Would An Early Playoff Exit Make For A Failed Season?

During the last Yankees-Red Sox tilt, the ESPN broadcast crew had an interesting discussion regarding expectations in NY and what makes a season a success. Steve Phillips contended that the expectations in NY are too high, and lamented the fact that anything other than a World Series championship for the Yankees would be branded a failure. While I do agree that the Yankees have had some fun seasons over the last 9 seasons, I do have to disagree with Phillips. The crux of my argument can be found in Joe Posnanski’s epic post on the Royals:

So, man-for-man the 2005 team was worse than this team. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. This is why I took you through that bizarre early bit about movies. Maybe the 2009 team would take a seven game series from the 2005 team (though I would fully expect it to go seven games). But my expectations are a lot different in 2009. This team is spending a lot more money. This team has a dominant starter. This team has was carefully put together to succeed (unlike 2005 when, let’s just be honest, they were throwing stuff at walls). The team has a manager who was imported from Japan almost exclusively to make the Royals better fundamentally.

The recent iterations of the Yankees play the role of the 2009 Royals in this story, in the sense of having raised expectations by bringing in a certain level of talent. The Yankees have the highest payroll each year, and have enough talent to make the playoffs in every season. Essentially, for many Yankees fans the regular season is a fun diversion to help while away the time until the postseason begins. This means that the Yankees season begins in October. When the club gets eliminated in the first round, that should be viewed as an abject failure. People may say that this is not fair, or that a successful regular season is a major accomplishment, but the reality is that this team is talented enough to have expected them to win the division from the start of the season. Furthermore, although the playoffs are generally a crapshoot, the Yankee advantage in skill should be enough to help them earn at least a berth in the ALCS. Anything else would be wildly disappointing.

How do you feel about this issue?

0 thoughts on “Discussion: Would An Early Playoff Exit Make For A Failed Season?

  1. If the Yankees play well and get beat I will tip my cap but if they play poorly I will be disappointed.

    • The only way they get beat right now is if they play poorly or make dumb decisions to lead to playing poorly, they are so talented and confident that they really can beat any other team in the league.

  2. I agree, that anything but a World Championship will be a bitter disappointment.

    After the Yankees’ bitter rivals have won TWO Series this decade, just getting to the playoffs or just getting to the Series, or just getting to the ALCS, isn’t good enough. It never has been and never will be.

    The Yankees hold themselves to a higher standard than any other team, because the Yankees have set the bar higher themselves.

  3. If the Yankees had gone though 10 years of futility like the late 80’s – early 90’s Yanks, then just getting to the playoffs would be considered a success. But having been there every year for the past 10 years (except last year), yeah, I think the expectations are and should be higher. I would think that any team that consistently makes it to the playoffs (e.g. 90’s Braves) have to feel that what they do this year should be better than what they did last year. I would like to know how the players and fans of those 90’s Braves felt when they only won the Series once. Did they feel satisfied every year just making it?

    • I really doubt they did if for no other reason than they could out pitch anyone they wanted and they probably felt (like many others) that they would end up winning 2 or 3 titles.

  4. -Losing in the ALDS would be a bitter disappointment, yes.

    -Losing in the ALCS would hurt, but represent progress.

    -Losing in the WS wouldn’t hurt one bit, unless we got swept. I always think the WS is gravy, just being there means you’ve won your league and have therefore had a successful season. You get to hang a pennant, just not a WS banner.

  5. At the start of the season I would have been content with just making the playoffs, as we faced stiff competition and it would be an improvement upon ’08. That was before the Rays backslide, and the Yankees went on a tear to gain the best record in baseball.

    Given our likely opponent, odds are I’ll be disappointed if we don’t at least advance to the second round, with the exception of a classic, dramatic series ala 1995 vs Seattle.

    That said, its been a wonderful and fun summer, and short of a complete collapse in September, I can’t possibly consider this year a failure, no matter how it ends.

    • Wins in August and July are quickly forgotten by even the most die hard fans when you loose in October.

  6. Anything short of a world series win is always a failed season in my view, you can’t win them all but you can damn sure try!

  7. As in anything one does in this life (that is worth doing), one works for perfection (WS Win). After the first shot is fired, all bets are off, no plain is that good. In other words “Sh&t Happens Folks”, that is the only thing I can see keeping the Yanks out of hanging another WS Banner #27.
    Very disappointed if they don’t win it all, the talent is there, unlike other years.

  8. The other Chris H: Wins in August and July are quickly forgotten by even the most die hard fans when you loose in October.

    I’d argue it may be only the die hard fans that care that much. This has been a good team, and we’ve all had a lot of fun. Perspective must be held.

    Really, I can remember the 4 WS wins still pretty vividly. Even at my not-quite 40 years, 9 years doesn’t seem so long ago. Truth is 1996 was my favorite of them. That was a team that had to struggle to get their rings, and at that age, the 17 years between rings was acutely felt. After 98, it seemed so… easy for them. 1998 was more astonishing than fun, and by 2000, winning it all felt almost routine, dare I say cheapened. This has been the first team I’ve really liked, top to bottom, in a long time, and I’m not talking stats. I don’t have to root for the costume, which is how it was feeling towards the end of the Torre era. And I really would like them to get the ring at least for Matsui and Wang, because who knows where they will be next year. But if not, it’ll just make me hungrier next season, and when that win comes, it will be the losing that’l make it so much more satisfying.