And so another offseason begins. Another winter begins. Seems like just yesterday I was at the beach listening to John and Suzyn on the radio. In the heart of the summer, the baseball season seems endless. The games start to blur together as they become part of our daily routines. The playoffs seem like this elusive thing that we’ll worry about later. And then out of nowhere, they’re upon us. The season comes to a screeching halt. Everything that we know about baseball – the stats, the analysis, the common sense – gets thrown out the window as we watch our team get tossed into the random chaos of the postseason. The playoffs are beautifully terrifying. Anything can happen and in the blink of an eye, your team is either celebrating with champagne or packing their bags.
As the Yankees pack their bags today, my ultimate dejection is not with the loss last night itself but with the fact that I won’t see their faces on my television screen for the next five months. I always get really dramatic at the start of the offseason. You’d think I’d grow out of it since I’m weeks away from turning 27 years old, but I just can’t help it. The idea of no baseball just really bums me out. Watching baseball every day soothes me. It becomes a part of me. I’ll miss it terribly. I’ll miss the lineups being announced every day, the hot streaks, and the instant classics. I’ll even miss the overanalyzing, the narratives that get beaten into the ground, and the annoying media. I complain about these things all season, but they too become part of my annual baseball story. Simply put, I’ll just miss watching baseball. It’s a void that cannot be filled.
The loss itself last night makes this depressing offseason pill a bit harder to swallow. The Yankees had so many chances. So. Many. Chances. I kept waiting for the big hit to come. I’d convince myself that it would be the next inning… or the one after that… or the one after that. I just kept waiting for it to happen. I knew that it was going to happen eventually. I was convinced of it. I think I’m still picking my heart up off the floor from Jeter’s fly ball in the eighth. Ultimately, the big hit never came. It’s shocking, actually. You’d think that it would have accidentally happened at some point (where were you when I needed you, BABIP luck dragon?)
Ultimately, the offense just didn’t come through last night and as a result, a short but frustrating Yankee postseason has come to an end. I’ll analyze it in more detail when I’m in a more rational mood. At the top of my head, I think one of the more overlooked factors of this NYY-DET match up was that the Tigers had all righty pitchers. The Yankees have collectively done very well against lefties this year, and players like Jeter, Teixeira and Swisher would have especially benefited. AND JESUS MONTERO COULD HAVE GOTTEN MORE AT-BATS! (I just had to gush about Montero for a second) Not facing lefties was just one of the many factors that contributed to the ALDS loss, from the pitching to the injuries to even the rain. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise very successful season.
While I’m bummed that it’s over, the 2011 season as a whole was both entertaining and promising. Small glimpses of Jesus Montero this past month alone have me pumped up for his first full season in the Majors. Ivan Nova far exceeded expectations. Curtis Granderson convinced everyone (except himself, apparently) that he is a home run hitter. David Robertson just blew us all away. There were ups and downs and there are certainly concerns that will be beaten to death over the offseason, but the 2011 Yankees were impressive. They exceeded my expectations and it was a pleasure to spend my nights with them over the past six months. Is it time for spring training yet?
It is not possible to wrap up the 2011 season without acknowledging that with its ending comes the end of an era for both Jorge Posada and Gene Monahan. Both will be missed tremendously. Both contributed to the Yankees over the years in more ways than we can even imagine. Personally, it’s going to be hard for me to say goodbye to Jorge. He was always a favorite of mine growing up. His passion and fire drove me crazy at times but I loved him for it. I’m really bad with endings, so I’m not sure exactly what to say. I’ll miss seeing both of their faces in the dugout every day. I wish them the same happiness that they brought us fans over the years in their future endeavors. Thanks for everything, Jorge and Geno! We love you.