Monday night was supposed to be the night that turned the 2013 Yankee season around. At least that was the narrative we were expected to believe after Dan Barbarisi posted his story on Monday night's postgame closed-door meeting. There were words like "fun," "energy," and "intensity," and the obligatory "our postseason starts now" message was thrown out there. The team didn't want to fall into a pattern of accepting the losing culture that has defined them since about mid-May. They had to come together, they had to stay positive, and they had to start turning things around towards a playoff push Tuesday night.
The reality is that this team was dead where it stood and has been for some time. The fact that a team meeting was called to rally the troops and get some positive vibes going served only to confirm that previous sentence. I can't remember who said it, but I remember hearing a player once sum up team meetings like this perfectly: "Winners win. Losers meet." When it's reached the point where everybody in the clubhouse is unspokenly aware that they've become losers and a meeting has to be called to address it, it's already too late. Hell, an unnamed player in Barbarisi's story practically admitted that when he spoke to him.
To further drive that point home, just look at what the Yankees have done since that team meeting. They've lost 2 games in a row, completing a sweep at the hands of the 2nd worst team in baseball. Last night's loss came in spectacularly crushing fashion. Early lead that they could never tack onto, late comeback punctuated by a game-tying groundball single through the hole with 2 outs and an 0-2 count in the bottom of the 9th against Mariano Rivera, regained lead in extras, second blown lead and a walk-off loss the following half-inning on 3 straight 2-out hits. An almost competent start by CC Sabathia wasted. When you lose a series like that, forget about calling team meetings to talk about your attitude. Call up Jon Taffer and just shut it down because the season is over.
I wanted to believe that the Yankees would find a way this year despite all the poor decision making in the front office, and for the first few months of the season I did believe it. I really did, gang. They were hanging tough, pitching well, and I was drinking the "wait until they get healthy" Kool-Aid. It was only the first week or so after the All Star break that I really started to recognize that this club wasn't going anywhere. That reality has slapped me in the face pretty hard over the last few weeks and last night was the final blow. The Yankees are 57-56, 1 game over .500. They're 11.5 games out in the AL East, 7 out of the second Wild Card spot, and there's a very good chance they enter next week under .500 after the Detroit Tigers and their 11-game winning streak come to town this weekend.
I'm not one of those delusional "World Series or bust" Yankee fans/writers and I hope I don't come off that way, but I want them to win and I root for them to win. As a fan, that's what it's about for me, wanting my team to play well and win. I don't care if the players are nice guys, or how hard they try, or what they've done in the past. I just want them to win. When they don't it sucks. When the Yankees aren't in the postseason and I don't have meaningful baseball to watch in October, that sucks. It's going to be a real sucky October this year, boys and girls, because try as they might, this team isn't going anywhere. They shone the light on that fact with their team meeting on Monday, and they confirmed it with their play on the field the last 2 nights.
(Photo courtesy of the AP)