Now that the hysteria has died down over the New York Yankees abysmal performance in the American League Championship Series and everyone’s attention has shifted to the World Series, I thought it would be a good time to do a little post mortem on the Yankees’ postseason. Much has been said and written about the Bombers’ not-so-illustrious departure from the postseason. Below is a look at some of the issues that have been discussed ad nauseam and what, if any, lasting effects they may have on the season to come.
A-Rod. Alex Rodriguez became the poster boy for all that ailed the Yankees’ lineup this postseason. He looked lost and overmatched at the plate, especially against right-handed pitching. He was so bad he was replaced by a pinch hitter (the now legendary Raul Ibanez) in a key situation and then benched for several games. The ALCS wasn’t even over and there were (false) rumors flying that the Yankees were going to ship him off to the Miami Marlins.
A-Rod is not going anywhere. There is no way any team will take on that hefty contract. Why should the Yankees eat the majority of Rodriguez’s contract just to send him away? If nothing, he took the bullet for the whole offense and deflected the attention away from equally pathetic postseason performances by the likes of Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher.
Everyone seemed to have forgotten he was on the DL for well over a month late in the season with a broken hand. Hand injuries can be notoriously tricky to recover from. While I certainly don’t expect Rodriquez to be the A-Rod of his Seattle Mariners days, I do believe, when healthy, he can still produce well offensively and be a plus defender at third base. If A-Rod can stay healthy next year, he’ll have a solid season. Who knows. Maybe when he’s 40, he’ll be doing the pinch hitting for a subpar performing Cano in a big postseason spot.
RISP Fail. This plagued the team all season. It made the 2012 version of the Yankees just pure frustration to watch. They could load the bases in multiple innings and never walk away with a single run. Yet, they managed to win 95 games, the American League East and the division series. For many fans, myself included, 90 percent of those wins were pure torture to watch. Eventually their inability to plate runners in scoring position would come back to kill their postseason in historic proportions. In Game one of the ALCS, the Yankees left the bases loaded three times. That was a franchise record, folks. Additionally, the team’s .188 batting average was the lowest ever in postseason history. Hey, you get to enough post seasons (51 in total) and there’s going to be some bad to go along with the good.
It could be that the team was missing Brett Gardner and the speed and agility he adds to a lineup heavy with sluggers. It could have been all the injuries taking a toll and guys just pressing too much to compensate. It could be that it was also just one of those seasons. In 2013, it gets better. It has to, right?
The Fans. So much was written about how the fans didn’t show up for the ALCS games. We didn’t wave little hankies… er, I mean rally towels. We weren’t loud enough. The new Stadium just doesn’t have the mystique and aura of the old Stadium. We’re spoiled and jaded by the team always being in the postseason. Blah, blah, freakin’, blah. You know what? When a team shows up, so do the fans. This team never fully felt like it showed up. Part of it was because they quite literally didn’t show up thanks to so many injuries, but part of it was this group just didn’t have that feel. If you watch any team sport, you know what I’m talking about. The feeling that even when a team is down, they will come back. That they won’t ever quit.
The last Yankees team to win it all (and do it in the new Stadium, I might add) was the 2009 team. They had that feel. They never said die and had a season full of exciting, late-inning victories. You never felt like they were out of a game even when they were down. The 2012 version felt like they rolled over more than they fought. New York doesn’t like losers. If you build a winner, they will come.