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  • Paul Semendinger

Putting It Into Historical Perspective

by Paul Semendinger

October 24, 2022

***

It's over. I am always sad when the baseball season (meaning, for me, the Yankees' season) is over. I love the day-to-days thrills that baseball brings. Whether the Yankees win or lose, they are always there, day-after-day, for the summers of my life (our lives). When it all ends, I feel empty. And not just a little empty. Completely empty.


It all ended too quickly.


Much too quickly.


It was a season that began with such promise. It ended with a whimper. In the ALDS, the Yankees barely got past the Cleveland Guardians - an inferior team. In the ALCS, the Astros demonstrated that they are, by far, the better team.


I had said, a long time ago, that the Yankees are to the Astros what the Twins are to the Yankees in the postseason. The Astros know that they're the better team. They defeat the Yankees soundly and routinely. Time and again.


In Game One of this series, the Yankees took the lead, 1-0, in the top of the second inning. The Astros immediately tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the inning. The Yankees didn't get a lead again until Game Four, last night. The Yankees led 2-0 after one inning and then 3-0 after two innings. In the third inning, the Astros took the lead 4-3. The Yankees, to their credit, tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning, and then went up 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning. In the very next frame, the top of the seventh, the Astros took command of the game. That's how badly the Yankees lost. They held the lead for fewer than five total innings across four games.


In this series, we saw, clearly, as we have for many years, a team that is good enough in the regular season, but not nearly good enough in the post season. Year-after-year, the Yankees come up short. When that happens, it indicates that there is a problem. The philosophy and the approach the Yankees have operated under has not worked.


It has been said that Yankees fans will not be patient enough to live through a reset, but that simply is not true. It is a complete falsehood. The Yankees did not reach the post season in 2013, 2014, or 2016. The only year between 2012 and 2017 when they reached the post season was 2015 when they played, and lost, a one-game Wild Card match (against the Astros). We were patient. We waited. We believed what the Yankees management was telling us...


The good days were coming. There was a plan. The young kids who would make a difference were on their way. And they Yankees were going to be big players, once again, in acquiring the very best players.


I think that so many people forget all this when they look back at those years and even at the losses today.


In context, this is what made 2017 so remarkable. The Yankees arrived that year. They were way ahead of schedule. They were back. The good times were returning. Joy and fun had returned - and more than that - winning too! It felt like there was a definite direction.


And then the Yankees lost (to the Astros) in the 2017 ALCS and (for all intents and purposes) they fired their manager who got them one win away from the World Series. This can't just be glossed over or forgotten in context. They had come back. The winning Yankees had returned. The future looked bright. And just as it did...


The team decided to go a different direction. They pulled the rug out from under us. They fired the manager who brought the team back, the one who guided the team back.


It made no sense. As fans, we had been patient.


Now, when a manager is fired (or, technically, not brought back) it has to be with the expectation that the new manager will do even better. If not, there is no purpose to replace the manager. The expectation is that the new leader will get the team to the next level.


And there were a host of quality managerial candidates out there, but the Yankees passed on all of them. Every last one. They hired a man who had never managed or coached at any level anywhere. The Yankees brought in a manager with no leadership experience.


The Yankees asked the fans to trust them. They told us that they knew better. It is clear that they didn't. That manager, Aaron Boone, has not brought the Yankees any closer. He's now had five seasons to get them there. Quite bluntly, he hasn't.


Year-after-year, Aaron Boone and the Yankees have been out managed and out-played in the post season. Year-after-year, the Yankees have fallen short. They promised us that it would be better. It hasn't been.


Again, all of this has to be remembered in context. It was during those down years, 2013-2016 that the Yankees also indicated that while they had some payroll issues, once those were resolved, the team would be big players in acquiring the greatest talent once again. We waited, patiently, and when the winter came that we had all been looking forward to, when the greatest players would be available, the Yankees not only didn't get any of those players, they didn't even make offers to them.


The fans had been looking forward to the 2018 free agent season for years. That was the year when the great players would be out there. We waited. There were indications that the time had arrived... and then, inexplicitly, the Yankees weren't even players in those sweepstakes. The moment had arrived, and the Yankees sat it out.


And here we are again, as we have been every season, looking ahead at another long winter. The 2022 season we just experienced was the most frustrating one yet. The Yankees began with such greatness and then they completely collapsed. We watched through a summer of futility as most of the gains the team had made were flushed away. Worse, we were told to believe in the Yankees' plan... this new plan.


"Fear not, we know what we're doing." All except total Yankee partisans can see clearly now that they did not.


The Yankees kept saying that the losses in July and August didn't matter, that they were preparing for a successful October.


The Yankees said that it was okay to trade a quality pitcher for a player who was injured and would miss more than a month. It was part of the big plan.


They traded away a host of their top minor league pitching talent for players who were clearly less than stars.


Other players were placed on the Injured List seemingly so they'd be ready for the postseason.


As they lost their huge lead, the Yankees stated that getting home field advantage didn't matter. "We know what we're doing."


During this time, the Yankees didn't play their Number Three prospect (and the one most ready for the big leagues) when he arrived with the big club. They actually treated him extremely poorly. Remember his first big league at bat? It came as the last out in a game the Yankees lost 9-0. "Welcome to the big leagues, kid." Then, instead of giving this kid, Oswald Peraza, playing time, they glued him to the bench so that the player, IKF, basically acquired to be his place holder, and one who wasn't exactly playing at a star level, played game after game. It made no sense. And, in the end, it hurt them in the playoffs when the manager suddenly lost confidence in the place holder. "Hey Peraza, I didn't think you were any good, but go out there and help us beat the Astros."


This is the way the Yankees have operated for a long time now. We're told that the club has a plan, but it doesn't seem to. We're told that the manager understands the game, but we see befuddling moves year-after-year, poor communication, and a team being out managed time and again. We were told to believe in the new crop of young stars that are coming, but when they arrive, the Yankees themselves, don't seem to believe in them, except in desperation.


Wait till next year? Unless big changes are made, does any fan actually believe that next year will be better?


We don't know if the young kids are ready. (Except for Oswaldo Cabrera, they were never given the chance. And laugh at me all you want, but in the post season, it would have been nice to know that with some experience if Estevan Florial could have played left field or even been a possible bat off the bench. We saw a ton of poor play in left field and we also saw a lack of any left-handed options on the bench. When the Yankees had the chance to let Florial play... just like they did with Peraza, they glued him to the bench. They had the chance to see what a young player might do. They chose to not give him any reasonable shot as well. The Yankees do not use an approach that builds up their prospects.) Compounding this frustration, we saw the Guardians and the Astros winning with young kids, players they trusted and put in he lineup.


The veterans will all be a year older. The core players, Giancarlo Stanton, Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rizzo, D.J. LeMahieu, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge are entering or will be soon entering their decline years. Matt Carpenter was a fun story to watch, but, he will soon be 37-years-old. And even key players like Jose Trevino, Clay Holmes, Jameson Taillon, Frankie Montas, Wandy Peralta, Kyle Higashioka, and others, will all be on the wrong side of 30 when the season starts.


No, this isn't a young core that's growing with its manager, this is an older team that may have had its last ride. Aaron Judge might not be back. Anthony Rizzo too. It's clear that Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman won't be back. Will they bring back Andrew Benintendi? How about Jameson Taillon?


As we wake up today, think about this, the Yankees might have just let Aaron Judge's best years pass by without a championship When he arrived in 2017, we were told that the years we just experienced, this era we just lived through, was going to be the glory years. They weren't. They weren't for a host of reasons outlined above (and more).


The frustration isn't just that so many fans saw all of this a mile away, since the start. It's that it's the same story year-after-year.


At some point, the organization has to say, "You know what? Enough. This didn't work."


Because it didn't.






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