It's a sad but true fact, and one that's difficult to accept or even admit. But in the world of brutal honesty (and clinical evidence), it is indeed a truth.
Do I feel relief over the end of the season? Maybe relief isn't the right word. I don't know what is, but I do feel a certain degree of tension lifted. It's no secret that the 2010 Yankees were at best a paled version of their 2009 selves, whether it was the number of comeback wins or team chemistry or winning streaks. Something was palpably missing.
It was the something that propelled them into the Championship last year and kept them at bay this year.
And watching them play in the last month of the season and into the playoffs (or not watching them on account of work, roar), you could see it wasn't there. And I felt this unavoidable sense that if the Yanks made it this year, it would be luck. Which isn't to downplay their talents, but they weren't the best team.
They were hanging on the coattails of their individual strengths, and not riding the combined momentum of a synergistic squad. Last year they were unstoppable. This year they were mortal.
It was tough watching them hand over the playoffs, seeing them vulnerable. You want to think of the Yankees as inpenetrable forces that will always rise above basic talents of opposing teams. And seeing them fumbling for life was like seeing an older sibling cry. They're supposed to be stoic, and immoveable. Not susceptible to cracks.
It was even tougher realizing that an entire season of baseball had slipped away from me. That I was lucky to watch even a couple of games every month, missing game after game to the demands of the office. And now of course things are slowing down to a manageable pace, and I'll get home by 7 tonight for the first time in maybe 6 months, only to discover that the MNF conflict is no longer a conflict. That the NY Giants will be the sole recipients of my attention.
Maybe that's another reason why I can't be too miserable on Day 3 of the offseason. Because I never was able to cement that emotional connection to the team. I only saw them in bits and pieces this season, and now I'm realizing that my perception of them wasn't just due to a somewhat limited exposure to them, but they were, in fact, only playing in bits and pieces.
Their game was disjointed. And at times inexplicable in its flow. I can only think of one time when I blamed a season on a managerial presence, and that was the 2008-2009 Giants fizzle. The defensive manuveuring was a sickly departure from form, and Sheridan took a team that was only slightly different in composition, and made them go from 2008 Champs to 2009 Slops.
I don't think what Girardi did, or didn't do as the case may be, was too much different than that. He took the same team of brilliant supernovas, and stripped them of their charisma. He took a vibrant palette of paints and watered it down to be a matted soup of beiges.
No one knew their role in the bullpen because it changed every day. No one knew who was the ribbie generator because the powerbats were shuffled around without any real acknowledgement of who was playing up to his potential. And instead of this resulting in a unified common goal, it resulted in a shaky understanding of the player expectations.
And there were, of course, players who never met their expectations. AJ. Jeter. And even Arod to some extent. The players who exceeded? Grandy, GGBG, Robbie. And everyone else played just enough, never really more than that.
Now it's another cold offseason until the games begin again. You can be sure that offseason will be marked with blockbuster moves--Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford...who else? Who else can the Yanks add to their muted 2010 roster that bring them back to superiority?
Some may say that 2009 was a freak anamoly, that 2010 was a true example of how the Yankees system functions. But it's not. It was obvious this year that something was missing from the Yankees. And to me, it's just as obvious that 2010--not '09--will be the anamoly in the years to come.
A dynasty is on the horizon.
Now we just have to wait through the offseason to start working on it.