The Yankees were eliminated from October baseball this year by a better team. Better hitters, better pitchers, better management. But it’s ok. To borrow from a long ago New York team, There’s always next year.
I’ve gotten to the point in my one-way relationship with the Yankees that I am just grateful to see them playing in the Fall. Sure, I’d love for them to win the World Series every year. If not for the gratification of watching 162 games (plus playoffs), then at least to stand among the thousands as the team parades down Broadway.
But the thing is, I grew up in an era where the team I rooted for had the best record in baseball for a decade yet didn’t make the playoffs. Not once, not never, or so it seemed to a little kid who watched his friends’ team, the Mets, make the playoffs and win the World Series. I grew up in an era where No. 2 was Dale Berra. I grew up in an era where the owner of the club paid someone to dig dirt on a future Hall of Fame player.
Since 1996, the Yankees, we all know, have made the post season all but one year. They’ve won 5 rings. This magical turn of events was unfathomable to a 10-year-old in 1988. And this is important: Baseball is a child’s game, played by adults that make an obscene amount of money. Which is where the pressure and expectations come in. I get that. But at the same time, we should take a step back and appreciate that team we root for makes it to the playoffs and each year, for the last 16 years have had a shot at bringing home the gold. We watched future Hall of Famers start as kids and grow into New York City institutions. Watch the Yankees through the eyes of your childhood self and then get upset for them not winning the World Series. You can’t. (And if you’re a Yankee fan post-1996 and you don’t know what post-season futility is like, well, I’ve got nothing for you. Sorry.)
This season, the better team won. And Yankees fans, let’s face it, as the team gets older and other teams get better and more teams make the playoffs, there is a strong chance that the Yankees will hit a dry spell. Who knows how long it will last? No one predicted, in 1981 after a nice 6-year-run, that the Yanks wouldn’t make the playoffs for another 14 years. So appreciate what we have. I do, and the appreciation only runs deeper when October rolls into November and all I get to root for is the Jets.
Spring training starts in about four months.