I was born in the year 1994, the year of the MLB players’ strike, the year the Rangers broke a 54 year drought, the year Kurt Cobain died, the year the Knicks were a mere shot and a game away from winning a ring, the year the whole OJ Simpson fiasco occurred. Most of all, it was the year the New York Yankees showed some signs of returning to relevance after a 13 year dormancy.
Since then, the Yankees have missed the playoffs just once, never finished with a losing record, won 13 division titles, seven AL pennants, and five World championships. Any fan of any team would love to have that kind of success. But with this franchise and the former late owner who ran it with an iron fist until his death in 2010, you expected more.
Now, I don’t know what to expect from a team who all I expected was winning it all. After surviving a late season collapse and five game series with a team full of mediocrity, after proceeding to get completely embarrassed by the same team that beat the year before, they have not built themselves to be a team that expects to win and win and take home the Commissioner’s Trophy.
No, they’re a team in limbo. A team that has duped the press and its loyal fanbase by pretending to be that same team that set the example that anything less than first is a waste. They did absolutely nothing to improve on an embarrassment in the League Championship Series. They blamed this on a luxury tax despite the fact they generate more revenue than any other sports team in the world by their cable network ALONE. Instead they went out and got a collection of overpaid wash-ups like Vernon Wells and Kevin Youkilis while refusing to go within to solve the problems with youth. They went into the season with a lineup of Eduardo Nunez, who is good at very little and erratic at just about everything at SS/3B, a “platoon” at catcher between Francisco Cervelli, a minor leaguer, and journeyman Chris Stewart, Ben Francisco as the DH against LHP, a washed up Ichiro as a corner outfielder, and Jayson Nix (.219 career hitter) as the Opening Day 3B.
They have done absolutely nothing to improve the franchise from within. The top prospects that they have had come up in the last few years have flamed out not because of lack of talent, but because of complete incompetence and mis-handlement by this organization. When faced with a complete lack of rotation depth two seasons ago, they went with has-beens Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia rather than give Joba Chamberlain, who they have completely ruined starting back in 2009, another shot. Last year, they traded away their best prospect since Derek Jeter for an overweight pitcher who blew out his shoulder and still has yet to throw a pitch for this club.
This year, they’ve had all of us fooled with that 30-18 start. They were completely dominated in four games by one of the worst teams in baseball, they got dominated at home yet again by their arch nemesis with first place on the line. But now, this is the breaking point. They not only just got completely dismantled and outlasted by a team that was better than them, they looked completely inept. In this latest loss, their 4-7 hitters, who make a combined $57.5 million, combined to go 0-28 with 12 strikeouts as the offense scored zero runs in the last 17 innings of the game and the whole team left a combined 30 runners on base, the most in a single game in franchise.
The team is now averaging 3.94 runs per game, their worst run pace in 23 years. Quite frankly, this team has become nearly unwatchable at this point. They are not good enough to win the championship, and they won’t end up being bad enough to do a complete rebuild. Not yet at least. They are in limbo right now.
Where is the heart? There is none. The days of the Core Four and the Lords of the Five Rings are over. Jorge Posada has been gone. Mariano Rivera is hanging it up this year (BTW, this has been a great send off for this team). Andy Pettitte has been great since coming out of retirement last year but you know his final one will be soon. The Captain, the heart, soul, and face of this franchise for the past 17 years, has yet to return, and it will probably be all for naught. It is clear as day: This 18 year run by the New York Yankees is coming to a close. The organization has brought it on themselves. Don’t be fooled by this team’s success so far this season. Unless something changes soon, it’s all trending downwards from here.
The ownership, in contrast to their father, cares very little about winning. That is also clear given the pitiful attempts to improve and reboot this team. They only care about making money. Why else would they keep the ticket prices for the new Yankee Stadium so high, thus alienating the true fans and attracting only the wealthy, casual fans who text on their phones in the 9th inning. They try to make it seem they have tried to improve the team by accumulating the highest payroll in baseball history, constructed only by albatross contracts, the biggest belonging to that fallen hero Alex Rodriguez who honestly should never play another game for this team.
How can any fan take this ownership and general management seriously anymore? Clearly this franchise is a chicken with its head chopped off. A franchise with no direction as it tries to transit from one era to another. As a life-long fan who buys all the memorabilia, merchandise, hats, shirts, and jerseys I can afford as well as go to as many games as I can, I feel cheated.
If the Steinbrenner brothers are truly committed to building a championship caliber and not full of it, it’s time to completely rebuild. If this means letting Robinson Cano walk instead of handing him a ridiculous 8-10 year deal, so be it. This run was built over the course of five years by Gene Michael after George Steinbrenner was suspended by the Commissioner. He drafted Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte. He signed Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. He traded for Paul O’Neill. He had a clear vision for this franchise, and this team needs someone like him to do the same for this team.
The Yankees are desperate. Desperate to resurrect the flame of the dynasty and are only fooling themselves. The vultures are circling. It’s time for change.