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It’s just been that kind of a year for the Yankees … and their fans. Nothing has come easy. The regular season was plagued with injuries and wasted opportunities, and the postseason has been no different.
Just when the Yankees appeared to be turning things around, to hold onto the American League East in a gritty race to the finish line and then win a thrilling, stomach-churning division series against Baltimore, it all goes pear shape in the ALCS. To say the Yankees hitters are cold is to say that Antarctica is a little bit chilly. The bats have been put into stasis mode.
Robinson Cano looks like boxer who’s being paid to take a dive, Nick Swisher is in his usual weak-as-dishwater postseason form and Curtis Granderson has whiffed so many times he’s like a one-man oscillating fan. And let’s not forget A-Rod. Mr. $125 million has been riding the pine because the only good contact he’s making during the games is with the pretty young ladies in the stands. (Seriously? The old baseball with the phone number trick?)
I don’t believe in momentum, but it seems like after Raul Ibanez hit another dramatic home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie game one, it went from a glimmer of hope to over and done. That descent began with Derek Jeter lying crumpled on the field after suffering a fractured ankle in the 12th inning of that game. Instead of winning one for the Captain, it was as if the Yankees hitters decided instead they would never score a run again in protest of his loss.
Now, I predicted the Yankees weren’t going to get past the Tigers. I thought Detroit’s pitching was going to be the difference maker … and it has been. But the Yankees pitching has been just as good, keeping the team in every single game even when Phil Hughes went down with a back injury in the fourth inning of game three. While the Yankees offense has been inconsistent all season, I never would have dreamed it would go completely MIA for an entire series.
It’s not over just yet. The big man, CC Sabathia, is on the bump Wednesday for game four. The Yankees have a chance to go out with some dignity and not get swept away in Detroit. However, even if New York pulls off a miracle bigger than that of the 2004 Red Sox, the changes they are a coming for the 2013 season.
Say bye, bye to Nick Swisher and his Red-Bull-infused enthusiasm, as there’s no way he’s pulling a big contract from the Yankees after his putrid postseason performances past and present. Don’t be surprised to see Granderson packaged off somewhere. And I think Brian Cashman is on the phone right now with the Dodgers to see if they’d like an over-priced, under-performing third baseman to go with their over-priced, under-performing first baseman, center fielder and starting pitcher. (Never going to happen, but a girl can dream.)
As a Yankees fan, I know I’m spoiled by having my team in the postseason almost every single year. Yet at some point, just getting there isn’t enough. Just getting there makes them this decade’s version of the ’90s Braves. Nobody wants that. The Yankees need to shake things because it’s getting late early again.