Saturday, October 20, 2012



No, I’m not talking about the number of at-bats it took before Robinson Cano got a hit in the ALCS.  Instead, I am referring to the number of consecutive winning seasons the New York Yankees have provided their fans.  No other team can say they’ve given their faithful that much success.  Not a single one.  Not the Red Sox, or the Tigers, or the Cardinals, or the Rangers.  No other MLB team’s fans can claim so many years of winning more than they lose.

Yes, we were just swept in the American League Championship Series by the Detroit Tigers and yes, our bats were quieter than a Buster Keaton film, but let’s not forget the season that was.
All year long we were backed up to a wall, and all year long we kept pushing ourselves off it.  Right from the start our team was behind the eight ball after dealing phenom Jesus Montero for Seattle hurler Michael Pineda who, despite all his promise and after securing a spot in the rotation, was lost for the season without so much as throwing a pitch from our hallowed mound.

The so-called “experts” all threw in their prognostications, and nearly all said we were too old, too thin on the bench, and too over-matched in the rotation.  The Red Sox with Adrian Gonzalez, Big Papi, Carl Crawford,  and a beer-drinking, chicken-loving rotation led by Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were sure to bounce back from a sub-par finish in 2011.  If they couldn’t, well then there was no doubt that the fiery Tampa Bay Rays led by Evan Longoria and a young flame-throwing pitching corps would dominate the AL East.

They were wrong.
With each setback, we found a new hero, or set of heroes who more than filled the holes.  Pineda was replaced by a combination of Freddy Garcia and David Phelps.  Joba Chamberlain came back from a trampoline accident and did a great job for us despite doubters who said he'd be finished. We lost left-fielder Brett Gardner one month into the season and Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, and Jayson Nix took over.  When our “Great One”  - Mariano Rivera – suffered a devastating leg injury while shagging fly balls on the warning track, Rafael Soriano stepped up and gave us 42 “untucking” saves. 

At the end of June, during our assault the top of the division, both Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia went on the disabled list on the same day.  Yet, we didn’t miss a beat as Freddy Garcia, once again, stepped up his game and went 6 – 5 with a respectable 4.16 ERA over the next two months.
In the month of September when the Baltimore Orioles made their splendid run at us, who could ever forget the incredible hitting displays of Ichiro Suzuki  (14 for 20 during a five-game stretch) and Robinson Cano (15 for 24 over the last six games) in the last two weeks of the regular season? 
Beyond that, it would be criminal to not mention what Raul Ibanez meant to the squad throughout the year and even more so in the divisional series where he seemingly carried the team into the ALCS.

And last but not least, Derek Jeter knew he had a job to do because of all the inconsistancy and injury and he had the season of his life, for himself, for the team and for the fans!

Finally, even though I am one of his harshest critics (hate the binder / IPAD Joe!), what Joe Girardi was faced with during the 2012 campaign was overwhelming.  Think about it.  Before the season began, a young, promising piece of the rotation was down with injury.  One month into the season, his left-fielder, and fastest man on the team, succumbed to arm injuries.  Mid-season, on one hot, yet bleak day, he lost perhaps his two best starting pitchers, and he lost the greatest reliever in the history of baseball before April could turn into May. 

Yet when the dust settled, the Yankees held the best record in the American League. This was, perhaps, manager Joe Girardi’s finest season.

Rather than criticize our hitters or manager for the sudden finality to 2012, applaud the Detroit Tigers for what they were able to do.  They shut us down – something no one else could do with regularity.

Right now we Yankees fans feel ill about another year of promise lost.  The “haters” out there are reveling in our suffering, but we can take solace in the fact that we have had an organization willing to do whatever it takes to improve.  Be sure that they will this off-season too.  After all, we have twenty straight years of proof to believe in.

--Steve Skinner, BYB Guest Writer

Twitter: @oswegos1

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