Okay, I’m not going to lie about it. I took a little pleasure in turning on the TV the other night and seeing that the New York Yankees were down 5-1 to the Texas Rangers in the sixth game of the American League Championship Series. Oh, come on, you could say, you’re a New Yorker and you want those Texas boys beating your Yankees? Hey, they aren’t “my” Yankees and never will be. When Texas beat them, why wouldn’t I be happy about it?
When manager Joe Girardi sent Mariano Rivera out to pitch the bottom of the eighth, you knew he knew it was over. This doesn’t mean that the Fat Lady is singing just about this championship series, but the whole Yankee era of Jeter, Rivera, Posada, and the ghosts of Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams and all those other Yankees who played for Joe Torre along with them. After this year and this loss, things will never be the same.
After the game Girardi said something about it not being easy to see the other team celebrating after a loss in a postseason series. Well, it only reminds me of Jeter and company celebrating at Shea back in 2000 when they beat my Mets. We Met fans all had to suffer through seeing that one, on our sacred ground no less, where Seaver, Agee, Jones, McGraw and all the rest played and won two World Series titles in 1969 and 1986. It was hard to see the Yankees whooping it up back then, so it felt great to see Jeter staring out at the field in something like disbelief. Keep looking Derek, because you’re 36 and probably might never see another World Series ring.
One thing this series taught me is that all the king’s money and all the king’s men couldn’t put the Yankees back together again. The highest paid team in baseball couldn’t hit Texas pitching. Beside Robinson Cano (who had four homers in this series against the Rangers), the Yankees looked like guys I see up at the park hitting those softballs into the dirt. A-Rod hit a buck ninety and had no dingers. Swisher did a lot of swishing (struck out seven times), and the pitchers might as well have been soft tossing those big softballs the way Texas was whacking the ball (the Yankees staff ended with a 6.58 ERA in the six games).
I’m sorry to have to say it, but the Yankees actually got lucky in this series. They almost got swept. If they hadn’t come back and won that first game, it would have been a clean sweep. Yankee announcer – and bloviator par excellence – Michael Kay pronounced the series “over” after the Yankees came back and won the first game. Can you believe that guy? Hey, Michael, what do you have to say about that now? And how about the most annoying announcer in baseball, the Yankees’ John Sterling? Could he maybe do a prolonged “The…Yankees…lose; The…Yankees…lose” just to make every Mets fan’s day?
So, yes I know we Mets fans have to wait until next year. I know we didn’t even make the playoffs and lost 83 games. I know, I know, I know, but guess what? Yankees fans have to wait until next year too, and some of the Yankees players will have to wait forever.
This winter Andy Pettitte is probably going to talk about retirement as many times as Brett Favre, and Jeter needs a new contract. A-Rod is starting to act his age without the joy juice flowing through his veins, and Mariano Rivera, now 40 years old, just might be feeling the years as well. Posada will be seeing a lot more DH next year or perhaps not catch at all, and the team has to be thinking free agent outfielder sooner or later. Swisher better take a good look around while cleaning out his locker; the trade winds are in the air.
Will the Yankees make a run for Cliff Lee? Uh, I can hear the Steinbrenner brothers unlocking the family safe as I type this thing. The Yankees need pitching, they need hitting, and they need something that my guys across the river have in abundance: humility; but waiting for the Yankees to lose that inherent arrogance is like waiting for a train in the New York City subway system. You hope it is coming but you have no idea when it will get there or if it will even stop when it does.
I’m betting on Texas over the Giants in six games. Cliff Lee, best pitcher in the universe, will lead the way. Will he be in pinstripes next year? Yankees players and fans will be wondering that as they watch the Series on TV. Keep dreaming, Yankees fans. The Mets fans and players will be watching too, and maybe the Wilpons will finally open their own safe, drag out some of that cash that Bernie Madoff didn’t swipe, and give the Yankees a run for their money for Lee.
The way things are it will be a long and cold winter for Mets and Yankees fans, and by Christmas the thought off Cliff Lee in either uniform might be better than sugar plums dancing in their heads, but don’t bet on Lee having to get himself a MetroCard. If he goes on to win the whole enchilada with Texas, the Rangers’ owner Nolan Ryan could find the money and incentives to keep Lee in the Lone Star State for a long time, and that just might make Texas the new sheriff in the American League. Yippee ki-yay, Yankee fans.