Perspectives: No, It Wasn’t Enough
By Paul Semendinger
October 6, 2021
The Yankees’ season ended last night. It wasn’t close. The game was basically over quickly. From what I saw, it was ugly.
(I actually might be the most fortunate Yankees fan. I had a baseball game of my own to play last night (we won). We watched on the periphery on the bench in between innings and such – following the game on a cell phone as best as we could. I got home in time to see Stanton’s homer and then the final two outs.)
The following are my thoughts and such on the 2021 Yankees season.
There will be plenty more as the autumn and winter drag ever onward.
I’m not satisfied. Yes, the final rush to capture the Wild Card was enjoyable enough, but it was too little too late.
Let’s not forget that the Yankees, late in the season, were in first place in the Wild Card standings. Ultimately they didn’t play well enough to stay at the top of the wild card standings and as a result had to play their final game of the 2021 season on the road – at Fenway Park. It didn’t work out.
The last three times the Yankees have played the Red Sox in the post season, the Red Sox have won.
It didn’t have to be this way. This Yankees team, the 2021 Yankees, should have been better than a second wild card. They played well enough to make it. But they played poorly enough to barely make it.
Even if they had won, realistically, did anyone think they had a realistic chance against the Rays?
Good enough just isn’t good enough for me. In anything. It seems to satisfy the Yankees’ decision makers though. The Yankees have been good enough for a long time. A long long time.
The Yankees put themselves in the “losers bracket” for the Wild Card game. They were the last team in the playoffs. A lot of talk will be how the Yankees sprinted to the finish to make it. But, why did they even have to sprint to the finish? Shouldn’t they have been in a better position than that?
In three of four seasons under Aaron Boone’s leadership (the only year this didn’t happen was 2020 with the delayed Covid start) the Yankees have started the season very slowly – very poorly. I complain a lot when the Yankees lose in April and May. I often state that those losses matter. Guess what, they did. Those losses played a big role in how this all turned out. Just one more win would have made a difference. Maybe a big difference. With one more win, the Yankees would have played the Wild Card game at home.
Maybe resting all those starters in the early weeks of the season didn’t pay off in the end.
The Yankees lost the battle to win the war, but…. they didn’t, in the end, win the war either.
People like to say the season is a marathon, not a sprint. True enough. But marathoners run each mile, they don’t give miles away – not if they want to win races.
Oh how the might have fallen if the Yankees, being the 5th seed, the final playoff team, is considered to be a success.
I believe Aaron Boone will be back to manage in 2022 and beyond. The Yankees decision makers believe that it was a successful season. They believe we, as the fans, have been spoiled. “Look at all our wins,” they’ll tell us. “We were this close…”
As I stated the other day, Aaron Boone’s Yankees have reached the post season in each of his four years as manager. If getting in is the goal (or the hope) then Aaron Boone has been successful. That doesn’t make him a good manager. But it is what it is.
For me, just getting in isn’t good enough. The Yankees should be better than this. They should want to be better than this, much better.
Has any fan ever watched the Yankees playing and said, “We have an advantage, we’ve got Aaron Boone in the dugout”?
Has any opposing manager ever said, “I have to be careful here, Boone is in the other dugout”?
Sometimes great team lose. It happens. The 2021 Yankees weren’t a great team.
The Yankees, instead, are good, sometimes very good, but they are not great and haven’t been great for a long time.
For over two decades, except for one lone season, 2009, the Yankees haven’t been great.
But, I guarantee you this, when the Yankees send their ticket package requests and in all their advertising for 2022, they’ll highlight their championship legacy. I guarantee it. They will say, “We’re the Yankees. We’re baseball’s most successful franchise.”
What the Yankees do not seem to realize is the winning and the championship are old news. Real old news.
Like so much of 2021 (and the years previous) in the big moment, the Yankees didn’t show up.
The poor offense has been a problem all year. The Yankees got just six hits last night and only one came from the #4-9 batters in the order. Something has to change. A lot, probably.
But, will the Yankees admit that their approach has not worked or will we see more of the same? I’m predicting we’ll see more of the same. The manager will be back. The coaches will be back. The lineup will be primarily the same.
It has to be acknowledged that the 2021 Yankees under performed. For a team that was supposed to be the best in the league, 92 wins and a Wild Card appearance (and loss) just doesn’t cut it. It’s not good enough. Period. Full stop.
I predicted the other day that Aaron Boone would get a four year deal to continue managing the Yankees. I’ll revise that following the loss last night and state that I think he’ll get three years. Remember, the Yankees gave Boone a three year deal as his first contract. The Yankees’ talking point will be that he reached the post season in each of his first four years as manager. “Look how successful he’s been,” the Yankees will say. They’ll say he deserves at least the same contract he received before all of his “success.”
And, if I were Aaron Boone, I’d demand at least three years. He still might get four. Don’t be surprised.
The Yankees will say over and over again. “We keep making the playoffs.”
They keep making the playoffs (often barely) with teams that do not have the ability to advance through the playoffs.
How many times can a team break its fans’ hearts before the fans finally give up on them? Not fans like the readers of this blog and the writers of this blog, we’re (many of us at least) fans for life. They’ve got us completely. But the casual fan. What great moments have the Yankees given the casual fan these last two decades? How many great moments have the Yankees provided fans who are 25 or 30 years old? Not many. If you were trying to sell a baseball product, would the 2021 Yankees be an example of a quality product?
This century, except for one year, the Yankees have under achieved. Just like last night.
I am convinced that the Yankees’ philosophy is to be just good enough the get to the post season with the hopes that the “anything can happen” nature of the playoffs will lead them to a miraculous finish and a championship. (It’s not working.).
I’m tired of this good not great approach. I’m tired of these early playoff exits. No, it’s not fun. At all.
I believe if Aaron Boone comes back as manager, we’ll see more of this. The 2021 season was not a fun one on the whole. It just wasn’t. There isn’t anything to make me believe that the Yankees will operate differently in 2022. This is what we’ve seen for years now. WE’ll see it again next year.
If Gerrit Cole was hurt last night, if he had a hamstring problem, he shouldn’t have been pitching. But the Yankees sent him out there and he gave it a shot because he was, on paper at least, their best hope. What the Yankees need to do is add some high quality pitching to take the tremendous pressure off Cole. One guy can’t do it alone. The starting pitching around Gerrit Cole can’t be guys who look good or who are sometimes good. The Yankees need an ace pitcher to team up with Gerrit Cole. Cole can’t do it alone. WE keep seeing that too. The Yankees are wasting Cole’s best years.
Of note, that second ace cannot be Luis Severino heading into 2022. He looked so so so good in his short return, but he can’t be counted on to be the team’s #2 starter. Not yet.
I would hope that the owner and the GM are getting as frustrated as the fans. But I don’t think they are. I think they believe this was a successful year.
This just isn’t good enough.
Please tell me exactly what highlights will be on the Yankeeography from 2010 to 2021. “They came close a bunch of times, but always fell short.” Boy is that NOT inspiring. At all.
I’m usually excited about the hopes that come with the off season and they players the Yankees might acquire. I’m not excited this year. I think the Yankees feel they were good enough. I don’t think we’ll see lots of changes. Until the Yankees show me that they’re all in, I will refuse to get excited about the off season and the potential moves. I will not believe any of the “Yankees are interested in ____” rumors until I see the Yankees going all-in. I don’t think they will.
2021 goes down as one of the least enjoyable seasons I’ve watched. It ended on a sour note.
In the end, the Yankees were good enough to play just one more game than all of the non-playoff teams.
And then in that game, they were thoroughly out-classed. I’m not impressed. I am not satisfied.
If I felt the Yankees went all in and lost, that would be a different story. I just don’t feel they went all in. I haven’t felt the Yankees have been all-in for a long time.
Good enough isn’t good enough. Not for the New York Yankees.
I hope Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner are as disappointed as I am.
The long, cold, lonely winter begins.