This appears in the Monday, October 22, 2012 edition of the Business Mirror.
A Fall Classic or more appropriately, a Classic Fall
by rick olivares
I thousands of miles away from where I am supposed to be. I’m in this tropical heat but I draw the sheets closer and tighter. I’m down with the flu and there’s this icy chill shooting up my spine. Yep. The signs of a nuclear winter are here all right.
So the New York Yankees have been swept from the American League Championship Series by the Detroit Tigers, 4-0, who are going to their 11th World Series; their first since 1984. This is the first time that New York has been swept in a post-season series since 1976 and that was at the hands of World Series Champion Cincinnati Reds. In this ALCS, the Yankees never led at any time in the series. The last time that happened to a team was the 1984 Kansas City Royals.
And the team that beat those Royals? The 1984 Detroit Tigers of Allan Trammell, Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson, and Jack Morris who went on to win the World Series 4-1 against the San Diego Padres. Whether history repeats itself we will find out in a week or so. The baseball gods sure do have a sense of humor.
In the meantime, the weary world rejoices several weeks early for Christmas because the Damned Yankees have been booted and prevented from winning their 28th World Series. The proverbial “Yankees suck” is being dusted off for Twitter and Facebook use. And I have to peel away from those news feeds lest I feel the urge to reply/retaliate/pick a fight. It’s over. The other has bragging rights for now.
I think of Seattle Seahawk cornerback Richard Sherman who just a few days ago talked smack with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and answered Patriots fans who said that their team has won three Super Bowls with “Patriots fans mad lol… Talking about Super Bowl rings…. What have u done lately? Oh ur 3-3 lol”. So forget about it. I’ll take my lumps.
My well-worn Yankee pinstripes that I love I put away ‘til next Spring. The baseball cap returns to the closet. Someone else has replaced Paul O’Neill, my all-time favorite New York Yankee, who adorned the masthead of my blog.
Truthfully, the signs of the fall were all there. They went 8-10 in July; 15-13 August; 18-12 September, and 3-0 October to end the regular season. The Yankees needed five games to eke out a win against the Baltimore Orioles then finally ran out of gas against Detroit.
Their fearsome lineup could not just get a hit even if the target was the broad side of a barn. The post-season numbers of some of their hitters: Robinson Cano 3-for-40 (.075); Curtis Granderson 3-for-30 (.100); Nick Swisher 5-for-30 (.166); Alex Rodriguez 3-for-25 (.120). Eric Chavez was 0-16 and struck out eight times. Up and down the line that team just suffered a collective meltdown with Raul Ibañez the exception. Somehow those 245 HRs and 774 RBIs accrued during the regular season didn’t mean a thing at all in the post-season.
Oh, there were injuries all right – Mariano Rivera, Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter to name a few were in and out of the lineup. The Yankees never were complete and how do you make a run when the game day roster is like a revolving door?
It wasn’t at all like that magical 1998 or 2009 seasons when they stumbled out of the gates before going on a season-long roll where from the moment they stepped on the field their opponents’ defeat was a matter of time.
I wonder if 2009 was one last fling with the magic of 1996-2011? By the end of Game Four, the there was only one from the Core Four (of Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada who were present for all five championships) left standing and that was Pettitte who himself missed much of the season with an injury. Rivera and Jeter were also lost to season-ending injuries while Posada retired after the end of the previous season.
If there has been a mainstay of the past few years, there’s Alex Rodriguez who I wonder if he will be back in a Yankees uniform next season. Whether by his own design or club manager Joe Girardi’s decision, Rodriguez was never more embarrassed by his being lifted for a pinch hitter (although that was a good call as Ibañez was their post-season hero) and being benched for much of the post-season.
I can recall two other benchings that received a lot of press or fanfare. There was Lou Gehrig taking himself out of the lineup after his illness was getting the better of him and Reggie Jackson being lifted by the late Billy Martin when he didn’t chase down a playable flyball by Jim Rice during a match against Boston.
In both these seasons (1939 and 1978), the Yankees won the World Series title. Sadly, this year, it ended prematurely at the ALCS. If there is any baseball team so closely associated with October it is New York. Since 2001 (yes the three home games were thrilling and classic) the team has made the post-season 10 times and only four times did they make it at least to the American League Championship Series.
I try to console myself by thinking of the Boston Red Sox’s even more monumental fall last season where they totally missed the bus after they led the division by 10 games with few to play. At least we won the AL East and the Division series. But… it still rings hollow.
I remember walking Times Square the day after the devastating Game Six loss to the Florida Marlins in the 2003 World Series. It was cold that day as I pulled my NY beanie low and kept my hands in my coat pockets. I stood around in a daze. A couple of other people in NY attire passed by. We nodded at one another and never exchanged a word. We understood. We suffered in silence. There’s next year to look forward to. After all hope springs eternal.
Aww who am I kidding. This sucks and it stabs at my pinstriped heart.
Spring can’t come soon enough.