It was already 1-0 when I got on the train to come home this evening. It was 2-0 when I went out of cell service deep beneath Harlem. I held my breath as the train climbed up from 191st St to Dyckman, 6-0 and the season was over before I even got to my stop.
The Yankees completed their crash out of the ALCS with a loss to the Tigers, 8-1. Swept for the first time since 1980. They had only two hits to finish the series batting .157 as a team. If justice prevails, this will not be remembered as Arod’s Waterloo but rather as lineup-wide systemic failure.
The roots of this sweep are buried in Game 4 of the ALDS when the Yankees failed to finish the Orioles. They could have started CC Sabathia in Game 1 of the ALCS and then who knows? Some will say it doesn’t matter, that the Yankees didn’t hit enough this series to bother entertaining “What If” scenarios, but for three games out of four, they were one hit, or one call from an umpire, away from winning.
CC Sabathia pitched a whale of a game in Game 5 of the ALDS, but he didn’t have anything left for this one. For the first time in nine games, the Yankee starter didn’t give the lineup a chance to win. CC came up small, no way to sugarcoat that. I think his two games against the Orioles probably speak louder than this stinkifesto, but we’ll see how the fans react.
I know Alex Rodriguez was bad in this postseason. He looked incapable of hitting a right handed pitcher and I don’t fault Joe Girardi for seeking other options. Eric Chavez pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez in Game 4 of the ALDS. He replaced Alex for 12 at bats in total in the Postseason and went 0 for 12 with six strikeouts.
As disappointing as this series was, from Jeter’s injury to the Alex-drama to today’s drubbing, I refuse to be crushed about this outcome. The Yankees played a very gutsy series with Orioles, and won even while hitting like shit. They played three tough games with the Tigers and lost, while hitting even worse. They have been playing playoff-tension-level baseball since early September and have answered every must-win game with a win until the ALCS. They have earned a lot of respect.
I refuse to be crushed because I am part of a household that is just learning about baseball and if you can’t take losing, you can’t enjoy this game. I am part of a household, that for reasons that will never be entirely clear, cares as much about the Pittsburgh Pirates as the New York Yankees. In this environment, disappointment is allowed but rending of garments is exposed as self-centered silliness.
I rarely felt like I was watching a World Champion when the Yankees played this year, but they were the best team in the American League for 162 games and they own as much claim to the “best team in baseball” as anybody. Admittedly, 2012 didn’t feature a truly great team, but hey, maybe that means 2013 is wide open, too. The Yanks don’t have that much to do to be right back in it again next year.
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