The Yankees 2017 season, following last night’s loss and a chance to appear in the World Series, does not require an epitaph. Nor does it need a psalm, or a song of praise applauding the 25 players who occupied the Yankees clubhouse for 175 games this season. All that happened here is for one night; the other team was better.
The Yankees, unlike the underachieving Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Indians can return to Yankees Stadium to unpack their lockers, pick up their mail, and maybe grab a couple of keepsakes to bring home to show their kids with no regrets and no tears goodbye.
To be sure, someone like Todd Frazier might have a thought or two about the ball he hit that looked like a home run until it wasn’t. And maybe CC Sabathia would like to have the pitch back he threw to Evan Gattis that did go for a home run. Ditto Tommy Kahnle who was victimized by that little gnat, Jose Altuve, who plays baseball on a level unseen in decades when Pete Rose wore a uniform.
But none of these moments have anything to do with the Yankees and everything to do with the Houston Astros. Because, and especially in the crapshoot called the playoffs, sometimes, in baseball, you just have to tip your cap to the other team and say, you can count on seeing us again next season.
Consider too what Brian McCann, who delivered the deciding double against his former team, told Scott Lauber of ESPN following the game:
McCann Nails It
And if we are compelled to put a tag on the 2017 Yankees, McCann did it for us when he used the word “organization” in describing his time with the team. From the top down, few, if any, teams have a better organization than the New York Yankees.
Unlike, for instance, his dad, Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees principal owner, handed over the keys to the team to his General Manager, Brian Cashman, allowing him to collect the 25 best players he could find. And then once Cashman did his job (splendidly), he turned the keys over to the Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, to direct the team as he saw fit. And that became the genesis of the 2017 Yankees.
From there, the players took over. With a blend of seasoned veterans like Sabathia, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, David Robertson, and for a precious few games, Matt Holliday, this core led the team by example. They gave stability to a team stacked with young and athletic talent showing the way through a long and arduous season filled with ups and downs, personal failure, and, in the end, retribution.
I have said all along that baseball, unlike any other professional sport, is a game accented by failure. Consider, for example, that the best hitters in baseball who make it to the Hall of Fame, fail seven of every ten at-bats. This Yankees team was unable to play .500 ball for two-and-a-half months of the season. Only to come back and produce a September which propelled them all the way to the seventh game of the ALCS. Retribution for a team that, indeed, was counted out by nearly all the pundits.
The Yankees Turn The Page
The team that returns to Spring Training in February will not be the same team. There will be personnel changes starting perhaps even at the top with decisions on the contracts for Cashman and Girardi. The fate of players like Todd Frazier, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia will also enter the mix. But the core of Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, Starlin Castro, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Greg Bird will return.
And if you were looking for a silver lining in the Yankees loss last night, look no further than that group of players the organization has put together. Because that’s all, we need to know about the 2017 Yankees.