Amid all of the fun individual celebrations for Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and whomever else this week, the New York Yankees also need to reconcile a collective disappointment: No playoffs for them.
The Yankees were mathematically eliminated from the wild card Wednesday night once the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 7-2 at Progressive Field. For the first time since 2008 and for only the second time in 19 seasons, October baseball will commence without the Bronx Bombers. Their season will end in Houston this weekend.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a free agent at season's end like slugger Robinson Canso, did perhaps his best job as skipper. The admittedly resourceful Yankees defied myriad injuries, aging and underperforming stars, along with a split philosophy in the front office, to stay in the race longer than they should have. Everything came to a head in late August when slugger Alex Rodriguez, embattled in a Biogenesis PED duel with Major League Baseball, returned to the team. In a humorous twist with Girardi's guidance, A-Rod became a unifying force the clubhouse after Ryan Dempster of the Red Sox hit him with a pitch on purpose.
Dempster and the Red Sox get the last laugh because they're in the playoffs and the Yankees aren't, but ... hooray for moral victories, right Yankees?
"You work really hard to get a chance to get in the postseason and win the World Series, and you're out before the postseason ever starts," Girardi told reporters. "It's extremely disappointing."
Along with Rodriguez's recovery from hip surgery, the Yankees swerved around early season injuries to Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Kevin Youkilis. Others got hurt later on, and the team got the worst performance of CC Sabathia's career — before his season ended early because of a shoulder injury. Some replacements filled in admirably for a short periods — notably Alfonso Soriano — but the Yankees simply weren't good enough.
Rivera's last game at Yankee Stadium will be Thursday night, with the Yankees playing only for pride.
''I'll be there for the fans. They deserve it,'' the 43-year-old said. ''But it don't mean anything. I'm not used to pitching for something that doesn't mean anything. I wanted to pitch for something that means something.''
Rivera might be grateful that he's retiring now, once the 2014 season arrives. The Yankees have a lot of work to do in order to return to glory, and money alone won't make it happen.