An Open Letter To The Spoiled Brat Fans In Baseball...
I must say, one month into the year I didn't quite expect your favorite team to be sitting in last place. What? Last place? You mean to tell me that Tampa Bay, perennial holders of the cellar in the AL East, are out of the basement?! Well, after hearing about a weekend's worth of 'Steinbrenner's going to fire Joe Torre' and all this other hibbity hooblah, I felt compelled to explain WHY the Yanks have basically bolted the door shut when it comes to winning another title any time soon.
First, there's The Boss. Yes, Steinbrenner's to blame for the Yanks and their inability to do something simple such as I don't know, get out of the Divisional Series for a change? The Yankees have not seen a Fall Classic since 2003, when they were filleted by the Marlins, who next to nobody saw coming. They have not won a title since their 2000 Subway Sweep against the Mets. The old adage goes, and my father's told me this a trillion times or so in my 26 years on this planet, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The Yankees were not broken when they were more or less running through everyone in short order and claiming pennants as if it were their birthright. However, when Steinbrenner invested the gross national product of several small third world nations into A-Rod and kept loading his pitching staff with arms that are closer to collecting Social Security than Cy Youngs...you had to have known The Boss was lost. So what does one do when his ego won't allow him to admit that he's lost his mettle and time's getting away from him? Put the blame on the manager who's done nothing more than manage the mess that The Boss has put in his lap to 90 wins a year on the average. Joe Torre's not a Medicine Man, he can't heal these aged, broken down, high priced mercenaries. Essentially, that's what the Yankees are now. Mercs. High priced mercs who are more concerned with chasing a ring that's nowhere in sight rather than playing a role, which is something the Yanks of the late 90s did to a tee.
Secondly, pitching. Hitting will get you through 162 games. If you want to win in October and on, you'd better have the arms to shut shit down. In the 90s, they had it and then some. Their staffs were effective and very efficient. Their bullpens were all but automatic. Any lead that was carried into the 7th and beyond was basically a done deal, because John Wetteland and The Sandman (Mariano) weren't giving it up. Now, since the starters aren't what they used to be, you can see the wear and tear starting to show on the bullpen. There's no reliable setup man to put the body in the coffin so that Rivera can put teams to bed. Now, they're relying on the only young arm they've got and he just pulled up lame in a no-hit attempt yesterday against the Rangers of Texas.
Third, everyone else is proving that a few hundred million just doesn't go as far as it used to. Neither does the whole 'Pinstripe/House That Ruth Built' mystique. There used to be a point in time when everyone feared the Yanks. In some ways, there's still that fear only it's not what it used to be. People used to know that these guys were going to walk in, beat you up and when it was all said and done, walk away the champions. Now, not even Boston's afraid, and beyond the obvious 3 games to 'another year of Curse talk' comeback, the Red Sox are laughing at the Yanks.
Look back over the past few years, most of the World Series winners don't even have HALF of what the Yanks do in terms of payroll. The Angels didn't, the Cards a year ago most certainly didn't have it, and neither did the D-Backs or Marlins. Only the Sox (Red & White respectively) could come slightly close to matching the Yanks' paper, and the Red Sox are considered to be the "equal" as far as bank accounts go.
It's like this. Those days of the Yanks winning just because they can are done. Primarily because the Boss won't recognize what's in front of him and everyone else for that matter. Everyone else is getting younger and better at the right time. When the Bulls had their run in basketball, it was because the Lakers, Celts and Pistons were getting old and decrepit. To coin a phrase from wrestling, evolution passed them by. In baseball during the late 90s when the Yanks were winning titles in their sleep, they were younger and better, running by EVERYONE who seemingly couldn't keep up. They got players to fill certain roles despite the name, rep or bank account they carried with them.
Now, it's more about 'what high priced free agent will the Yanks get' more so than 'how will they fill this role or that role to make the team complete again'? A-Rod's more than likely gone after this year and he'll more than likely walk to the South Side of Chicago to reunite with his "daddy" Sweet Lou. Jeter's rounding into his prime, but sadly, he doesn't have the talent around him he had when they were hands down the best team in the majors. Face it rugrats, it's over. Steinbrenner, much like Al Davis in Oakland, is the reason this once storied franchise is just that. Once storied. 26 World Series Titles, umpteen division crowns, even more pennants. 0 World Series Titles since 2000 and none coming in the future.
A Happy Mets Fan