So the big question tonight does not deal as much with who’s in the playoffs, but who’s out.
What’s the bigger deal: That the Yankees aren’t in the postseason for the first time since 1993 (remember, no playoffs in the strike-shortened ’94 season) or that the Yankees had actually made the playoffs 13 years in a row?
My vote is for the latter. Say all you want about the payroll, the free agents, etc. Still a pretty awesome accomplishment. That being said, let’s not get too overwhelmed.
1. Karl Ravech on Baseball Tonight said that since the home schedule had already been completed, Derek Jeter has still never played a ‘meaningless’ game at Yankee Stadium in his career. Ok, I get that this is the first year he’s ever missed the playoffs, but what about the many years when a playoff spot had been sewn up prior to the end of the regular season. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say there have been quite a few late-September games in the Bronx when the Yanks would have rather had Andy Stankiewicz at shortstop instead of risking a Jeter injury before the postseason.
2. Buck Showalter says the Yankees have some serious holes to address before next year. What was left out was that these are ‘holes’ from the perspective of a team with a $200+ million payroll. Assuming Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi are gone, the projected lineup for 2009 includes Damon, Jeter, Rodriguez, Nady, Cano and Matsui, with Posada and Melky Cabrera as question marks. See what a culture of winning and spending produces? These are pieces any team would be pretty proud to have, despite Damon’s noodle arm and Matsui’s bad joints. The real problem, as I’ve said for years, is the club’s poor pitching moves.
3. Does any one give a damn about Roger Clemens anymore? Apparently, he was heartbroken that he was left out of the final Yankee Stadium celebration. That’s a real pisser. Imagine how the Yanks felt after the ’03 season when Roger ‘retired’ only to come back in the spring for a cushy deal near his home in Houston. He went on to become the most dominant pitcher in the NL for a couple of year while the Yankees had to find a new ace. Yes, they’re the one team who could really afford to do it. But what was their solution? Carl Pavano. How’d that work out the last few years? Throw in the alleged ‘roid needles and Roger’s perception today fits him just fine.
The Yankees will be back. It’s how the route they take to get there that will provide all of the fun.