Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Inner Emptiness

Somewhere above Manhattan, somewhere near Yankee Stadium, there is a collection of long since gone former Yankees floating around the ether and bemoaning the current state (of disarray) of the 2006 Yankees.

By now, everyone on the planet -- or at least those who would manage to find their way here -- know the Yankees were unceremoniously bounced from the 2006 playoffs by the Detroit Tigers. Everyone, of course, knows the Yankees won the first game before surrendering the next three with little or no resistance. And everyone knows, of course, these Yankees were not only the best team in baseball, not only the favorite to win this year's World Series, but were regarded as possessing the best offensive lineup in the history of the game. Ever.

Well, now that that's all been said, it all means nothing. Because the games are played under the lights on grass, not in front of computers on paper and electrons. The Yankees, when push came to shove, didn't push and instead were shoved aside.

Subsequently, the disarray has returned. The sick, worrisome cloud that has plagued this team's post-season performance (or lack thereof) since 2000 has yet again taken up residence above Yankee Stadium. Pathetic, silly losses to the Florida Marlins in the World Series; ALDS exits to the Anaheim Angels and ALCS chokes to the Boston Red Sox -- all a part of the club's recent history. Thing is, the franchise has the players -- for the most part -- to not only compete, but exceed. So why are high-end players like Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield not getting it done? And why is Joe Torre, a guy who has managed the team (both on- and off the field) to success suddenly been put on the firing line and rumored to be about to lose his job?

The short and long, of course, is that reputations, salaries and expectations are one thing; success -- or failure -- is a part of the game. These days, the Yankees embody the former, until it's time for the postseason, at which time they magically manage to embody the latter. Should Joe Torre be fired? No way. Should the Yankees have cleaned out their lockers today? And should there have been a dozen -- literally -- fans waiting to greet them upon their return home from Detroit? Nope.

The end result, and where we go from here, is to a new season. Granted, most of you reading this have either already clicked over to Gawker or to something far more interesting; however, for those of you who understand the loss the Yankees endured, and why we lifelong Yankee fans have taken this loss even harder than all those in recent history (minus the choke that allowed the Red Sox to break the curse), is that the team has somehow lost its direction, and when an entity like the Yankees loses its course, people who worship the Yankees and anchor their sports-related hopes and dreams thereon lose their course. Now I'm not about to jump off a bridge anytime soon; but seeing the Yankees soar so high, and then fall so low, is indeed depressing and sad.

I hope Joe Torre doesn't lose his job, and I do hope the Yankees can trade Alex Rodriguez somewhere where his inability to be a reliable guy like Derek Jeter is a non-issue. In return, I hope the Yankees get a few players who actually get off playing baseball in lieu of doing same simply because they excel at doing so. And I hope this team finds its course -- soon.

"Wait 'til next year!"

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