With the regular season over, teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.
But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Up next is our old pal Rob Iracane. He wrote the 10 best things about being a Yankees fan earlier this year.
Welcome, my fellow Yankees fans, but please stop pointing your fingers at Alex Rodriguez! Our historic ALCS sweep at the hands of the detestable Detroit Tigers happened because we are merely victims of circumstance and once again find ourselves on the wrong side of luck!
Time was, finishing first in the league guaranteed a nifty flag to hoist above our great Stadium and a free pass into the World Series. Those days are long gone thanks to Commissioner-for-life Bud Selig and his "let's give those flyover franchises an opportunity to win it all each year instead of the Yankees" policy. We can hoist a division title year after year after year, but the artifice of the ALDS and ALCS presents a sometimes unsolvable riddle for even the best of best teams. How much money do these Yankees need to spend to buy an automatic World Series berth anyway?
But I come here not to bury Selig but rather to single out our Yankees but also to concede a hard-fought series to the vanquishing heroes from the Midwest. The 2012 New York Yankees campaign was a joyride in a cherry red Mercedes convertible with a beautiful blonde, and it was only until we were coasting down the final hill before we realized we had no brakes. Do we wipe out a season of greatness merely because the final four games were an unprecedented disaster? No! Do we call out the offenders who led us into the toilet anyway? Yes!
Mistakes were made: There are only so many times we can shake our fists at the bad luck involved in a short series, though. In the end, the Yankees team that got swept in four games by the Detroit Tigers was a miserable collection of ineffective batters, like some sort of Bizarro Bronx Bombers. To go from setting the all-time franchise record for home runs in a single season to suddenly scoring a mere six runs in four games is some sort of cruel insult. In the nine postseason games, the team combined to hit .188, a new low for any team that played at least seven games. It's almost mind-melting to consider that a team with such a miasmic batting average could actually remain alive to string together a run of nine games, but here we are.
Yes, the greatest Yankees player of the last 40-plus years was felled by a brutal ankle injury at a time when we needed him most, but the sudden disappearance of His Captaincy does not excuse the following players for neglecting their run-producing duties:
• Curtis Granderson — Went 3 for 30 in the playoffs and struck out a whopping 16 times before being benched for Brett Gardner, who had amassed a whopping three at-bats in the final five months of 2012 because of injury.
• Alex Rodriguez — Went hitless in 18 at-bats against right-handed pitchers and forced Joe Girardi to bench him in favor of Eric Chavez, who upped the ante by not even reaching base once against righties OR lefties. That's an OBP of point-zero-zero-zero, for you statheads with your slide rules.
• Robinson Cano — For a guy who carried the team offensively for the last three weeks of the season to somehow bottom out into a 0-for-29 "streak" is enough to render my soul into a tub of goo. This wasn't a slump, this was an outright disappearing act on par with Harry Houdini or Bobby Valentine's credibility.
• Nick Swisher — Going back to 2009, "Nicky Swish" has hit just .162 with only 7 RBIs and 38 strikeouts in 36 postseason games for the Yankees. Honestly, he's not one of the big names with a fat contract, so I do not bring the highest expectations when he comes to the plate. But his defensive lapses in Game 1 of the ALCS proved to be devastating and led directly to his cowering at the sound of jeers and boos by his home crowd. Inexcusable.
But worst of all was manager Joe Girardi who made one of the all-time boneheaded pitching changes in Game 1 of the ALCS, bringing in Derek Lowe in relief of Andy Pettitte in the seventh inning with the Yankees down just two runs. Yes, Lowe retired Cabrera and Prince Fielder before giving up two runs, so kudos to him. But when you are down two runs AT HOME in the PLAYOFFS, a manager CANNOT rely on the FIFTH-best reliever in his bullpen in a LATE AND CLOSE situation. It almost seems like Girardi is taking cues not from reasonable baseball strategy but some sort of alleged advanced statistical guidebook that betrays him more often than not!
Mudslinging time: Take away the 2008 third-place finish and the 2009 championship season and these Yankees have been bounced out of the playoffs five times in the past seven seasons. Three of those five inglorious playoff series losses were against the Detroit Tigers and, besides ace pitcher Justin Verlander, the only constant on those Tigers squadrons is their contemptible manager Jim Leyland.
Leyland is now three-for-three in beating the Yankees in the playoffs this century. I'm curious to know what sort of deal Mr. Leyland has arranged with The Dark Lord beyond the grave that overrides the sweetheart deal George Steinbrenner made with Satan many decades ago. Sounds like we've got an infernal contract dispute on our hands!
Hope for the future: Look, these are the 27-time World Champion, 40-time league champion, 18-time division champion New York Yankees with approximately 92 different future Hall of Famers on the roster and a smattering of young guns on the cusp of promotion: criticism aside, things are great!
You know this Robbie Cano fella would be practicing his MVP acceptance speech right now if it weren't for an historic rookie campaign from New Jersey's own Mike Trout and a Triple Crown run from Miguel Cabrera? You know CC Sabathia overcame a couple stints on the disabled list to beat all-comers down the stretch? You know that Derek Jeter will magically heal his ankle and return in 2013 to have the greatest age 39 season by any human being ever? Have confidence, Yankees fans. (and please ignore the irrationally excessive Alex Rodriguez contract that will cripple the franchise until President Chelsea Clinton's second term in the year 2032).
A change is going to come: Still, the team needs some tweaking if it is going to remain on top of the division yet again. First, the team must part ways with Swisher and then sign Ichiro to a short one- or two-year contract to play right field. Second, to help Michael Pineda speed up his recovery from his shoulder injury, the team ought to fire the entire medical staff and replace them with this guy. Finally, the team needs to look into NEVER PLAYING THE TIGERS AGAIN IN THE PLAYOFFS. Perhaps Commish Selig can "re-align" Detroit into a different league, or even a different sport. I hear there are openings in Major League Soccer.
In the end, I implore all fans of each eliminated team, not just our New York Yankees, to come together and temporarily shelve your team allegiance during these upcoming World Series games. Don't cheer for laundry, instead, cheer for This Great Sport of Ours, the washing machine that tosses it all together. Tear down your fences, turn on those television sets, and enjoy the last week-and-a-half of competitive baseball before the spring thaw.
Previous Concession Speeches: Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A's, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Angels,Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates,Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros