The Yankees' cockamamie season came to a fitting conclusion the other night in California. In a game that decidedly pitted the Baseball Gods against the Bronx Bombers, the Yanks lost one that they should have won. Give the Angels credit for being opportunistic and taking advantage of the Yankees' mistakes and blame New York for not playing their best ball when it counted most. Alex Rodriguez is getting killed here in New York, and he'll just have to take the hit. He's the teams' marquee player and he had a bad series, so it comes with the territory. It doesn't take away from his great season, but it sure was a lousy way to end it.
Still, as disappointing as losing to the Angels is, I feel curiously peaceful. The Yanks rebounded after a horrid start and played well enough down the stretch to win their divison and make the playoffs again. That is nothing to sneeze at. I've said this before but I think part of what distinguished the 96-01 teams was that they collectively appreciated how hard to was to win a World Series. It was a quality that made their run even more impressive because it wasn't lost on the players how special their accomplishments were. However, I think some Yankee fans began to buy into the sense of entitlement that is peddled by George Steinbrenner and think the Yankees had somehow patented winning baseball. Now, the Yanks are becoming more like the Braves with each passing season--and I don't mean that as a diss (or as literal comparison between how the two organizations are run). Ain't so easy to win it every year. And as the old refrain against Steibrenner goes, you can't arrange for success.
Yet as frustrating as the season was in many regards, it provided more moments to cheer than jeer. Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera had brilliant campaigns and Jeter, Sheffield, Matsui, Giambi and Flash Gordon were excellent. Chacon, Wang, Small and Cano offered some nice surprises. Course there won't be a dull moment moving forward; the Hot Stove League will be as busy as always this year. While much of the roster will return, the word is that Brian Cashman will likely leave. That would be too bad as Cashman is bright and hard-working. There is also a possibility that Joe Torre could be finished, though I don't think that will happen. Either way, there will be plenty for us to gab about through the cold winter months.
This has been the third complete Yankee season I've covered here at Bronx Banter (I started the blog in November of 2002). At the beginning of the year I knew that I was going to have a hard time maintaining the same pace that I did in 2004 because of my work schedule. I felt that bringing a co-writer on would be ideal and I found a great match in Cliff Corcoran. I knew that Cliff would be able to provide a different yet complimentary sensibility and that together we would be able to provide an even more well-rounded and thought-provoking take on the Yankees. I wouldn't have been able to do it on my own this year and want to publicly thank Cliff for the energy, conviction and insight that he brought to Bronx Banter. Our working relationship was as smooth as can be, and I looked forward to reading his stuff on a daily basis. I'm pleased that you readers responded to Cliff's work as I expected you would.
You know, it was very rewarding for me to read through the comments threads over the past two days. Those of you who wished us thanks, let me say, right back attcha. Those words mean a lot. And that's no joke. One person said that they often will get more caught up in a thread than they will in the post Cliff or I put up in the first place. At first my instinct was to take offense, but the truth of the matter is, I feel as if that comment was the ultimate compliment. When I began this site I called it "banter" for a reason: I like to hear conversation and wanted to create a forum where some intelligent back-and-forth could take place. Naturally, there is a lot of nonsense that can take place in the comments section during the course of the year, but there is also a good deal of bright, sensible exchanges as well. That's just the way I've always wanted it. I don't feel like any kind of baseball expert. I'm just an enthusiast who is dedicated to writing about my experiences as a fan following the Yankees. I want to soak up knowledge and ideas and observations as much as the next guy. I try and create a starting point for Yankee thought here and let the reader take it where it may. I'm proud of the Bronx Banter community and hope that you all keep coming back for more. We'll leave the light on for you.