I've been watching Yankees baseball since about 2003, and at the time, I was just old enough to acknowledge what was going on a couple years prior. And I'll be honest, I'm a spoiled fan because throughout my lifetime, the Yankees have won five World Series titles, and have only missed the playoffs once. Now that the team is on the brink of elimination, it's time to reflect on a year that made me appreciate the Yankee teams of the past much more.
While this Yankees team is no where near as bad as those of the 80's or the 1990 season, they are probably the most poorly put together team I have ever seen on a baseball field in the Bronx. That's no one's fault, it's just the randomness of injuries. However, everything that could go wrong went wrong. Even when guys like Granderson, Teixeira, Jeter, Youkilis, etc. were able to play, they quickly returned to the DL. Maybe they weren't ready to come back yet, but some of these injuries were just freak accidents. If the Yankees had those guys for a full season there's no doubt they make up enough production to make the post-season. Yet, injuries are apart of the game and as result the Yankees had to break the franchise record for most players used in a season.
It's been perceived that the Yankees will put out an entirely different team next season, in what could very much be a transition year. The retirements of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte have basically declared the end of an era in the Bronx. Derek Jeter is the only remaining member of the core four, but due to his injury the team cannot rely on their captain in the future. It's going to be weird to see the Yankees inevitably struggle to win baseball games the next few seasons. It's going to be odd to see a new bunch of players officially replacing our favorite players of the past era. As I've grown older I wondered when the Yankees were going to partake in a rebuilding stage. It's inevitable for all teams, but it just seemed so far away for the Yankees. I guess it was closer than we all believed, or chose to believe.
Without ownership willing to throw out a few extra dollars to create a winner, the team is in a tight budget. Now, a team with a $189 million payroll should be able to win a lot of games. It's just how much of that $189 is spread out over the team. Mark Teixeira is making $22.5 million until the end of his contract in 2016. CC Sabathia is making $23 million annually until 2015, and then his dollars jump to $25 million in 2016 and 2017. As for Alex Rodriguez, I think we all know his contract situation. However, if he's suspended the Yankees will likely have room to add another productive player to their lineup next season. Just no seven year deals for players not named Robinson Cano please.
I'm not sure I'll really appreciate one of the greatest eras of baseball dominance ever without putting it in perspective. Winning every season is nice. I do not condone losing or bad play at all. I enjoy not being able to put this era of Yankees baseball in perspective in comparison to the 80's Yankees teams.
Yet, maybe this inevitable downhill spiral that this team is destined to go on will help me appreciate the Yankees winning that much more. The Pittsburgh Pirates fans seem so appreciative after two decades of losing baseball. Hopefully nothing like that happens for the Yankees in the next 20 years, but some losing can be good for the fans believe it or not. Especially for those of us who are too young to put winning into context.