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?