End of an Era

yankees“It ain’t over till it’s over” .

Now it’s over. The Yankees have been eliminated from playoff contention this season. No October baseball in the Bronx, a strange sensation. But it’s more than an end of a season–it’s  also the end of an era of Yankees greatness with a cloudy future ahead.

Interestingly, though they fell short, I have enjoyed this year’s season. Their talent was thin, old and injured. The Yankees picked up new players constantly, largely from those that were waived by others. I did enjoy Alfonso Soriano’s return in NY. He made August an interesting month. Few thought this season’s collection of Yankees were positioned for success. They weren’t. Many thought a sub .500 season could be expected. I feared this as well. Nonetheless they contended for a playoff spot until the final week, but fell short. Despite the annual goal of a World Championship, there’s no shame in the 2013 season. The Yankees will once again have a winning season but obviously a “winning season” is never the Yankees goal. During the past 18 years beginning in 1995, their fans and knowledgeable baseball experts expected the Yankees to make the playoffs. And they did—every year except 2008 and now 2013. Obviously a large payroll has helped immensely–but payroll alone does not insure results (see Phillies and Angels as recent examples). All Yankees fans hoped for a World Championship each year during this era too, and they delivered in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. We will not see Championship #28 this season and may not for several seasons more.

This era was built on the performances of many talented players, particularly long-time Yankee greats Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada. Jorge retired after 2011, Mo and Andy will be gone, and it’s unclear whether Jeter will return in 2014 and how effective he can be. Even if he does (hopefully) return and has a modestly successful season, he will be 40 and it’s the last year of his contract so it’ll probably be his last. I wish for him the praise, respect and adulation Mariano Rivera received throughout the league in 2013. Jeter deserves no less. He’s a certain first ballot Hall-of-Famer as is Mo, and always played the game the right way. However, I suspect Jeter will never prematurely and willingly surrender to retirement, so a pre-announced retirement is unlikely. We’ll see what unfolds.

bobbleI have loved going to games in this era. In fact I was at Tuesday’s Mariano Rivera bobble head night fiasco with our daughter Carolyn. What a disaster! However, the ceremony last Sunday honoring Mo was wonderful. He deserved every accolade and every gift he’s received. He’s going to have one hell of a garage sale someday. I’ve seen him pitch often during the past 18 years as I am a partial season ticket holder. Nothing more comforting than Mo running in from the bullpen to save the game, with a win following  90+% of the time. After the win, we exit hearing New York, New York as we dash to the car and make a quick exit.  In total I’ve attended 150+ games during the Jeter/Mo era of Yankees baseball, and hundreds more during the past 50 years. Given the length of the trek to the Bronx (200 miles round trip), one could call me an avid fan. I’ve shared the majority of these games with our daughter Carolyn. One of the real pleasures of this era has been enjoying games with her. I have enjoyed the time together as much as the games themselves. Her passion (and knowledge of baseball) is second to none. The memory of attending the final game of the World Series in 2009 in the Bronx is a lifetime memory.

Carl & Carolyn

Our son, Carl, is also a fan, but he’s admittedly far less passionate and knowledgeable than Carolyn, and his attendance at games has been sporadic over the years, but it’s also a joy to attend occasional games with him. It was fun to take them both to Matsui’s retirement game in July, one of the highlights of the year. Nice photo of them from that day—it was a great day all around.

My interest in Yankees baseball began in 1960 and my first years were all Yankees pennant winning teams with 2 Championships (1961, 1962) but I am old enough to remember bad eras of Yankees baseball (late 60s and early 90s in particular). I worry that a similar era could be straight ahead.

But as the season ends (prematurely for Yankees fans) at the end of the regular season this Sunday in Houston, I smile thinking about the joy that this era has brought. When the Mick retired, I never thought there would ever be another Mickey Mantle—and there wasn’t.  Jeter and Rivera have earned their place among Yankees greats, and one can say the same about them. But hopefully future Yankee greats will be part of the next era.

Bobble head disasters aside, come spring 2014 I will be back to the Bronx. The current era is closing and we may be entering a less successful one in the near future, but I am confident that Yankees greatness will return in future years. The Yankees are the greatest franchise in professional sports and like no other.

The Yankees are more than a baseball team. They are American history, and I am proud to be a fan. See you in 2014.

PS Should I get in line for my Jeter bobble heads now?

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One Comment

  1. Clarence says:

    A great testiment from a true Yankee Fan. Thanks for reminding us of how great we are as Yankee fans and the memories we all shared with the greatest sports franchise in all of sports history.


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