Whether fans agree or disagree with the New York Yankees offseason moves, or the direction management is taking, the 2013 Yankees are the end of an era. The Yankee teams from 1996-2009 are even found in the definition of dynasty.
With so much success over those years, it is hard for fans that have been following the Yankees their entire lives to see this teams’ run come to an end. Even if Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner’s new way of running the Yankees works, it is time for fans to face reality; the core group of those teams is all but gone. Each year the Yankees lose a player from that era and the 2013 season could truly be the beginning of the end of what so many have loved, or hated, about the Yankees; being consistently competitive.
From 1996-2003, the Yankees had eight postseason appearances, seven divisional titles, six AL pennants and four World Series titles, as well as another World Series win in 2009. This was an amazing run and possibly the last team to ever be referred to as a dynasty. The only players left on the active roster from those teams are Derek Jeter, who is coming off a broken ankle, and Mariano Rivera, who is coming back from a torn ACL; in addition to having Manager Joe Girardi, who played a very big role with those Yankees teams, who may be the last man standing when it comes to an end.
For the fans that have followed the Yankees for decades, cheering them on since the early 80’s, the sadness of this coming to an end is a tough pill to swallow and may cause an overreaction, but it is not one that is unjustified because of what happened prior to the 1996 season. Between the two Yankee dynasties, there were many sad years and disappointments in the Bronx.
From watching Andy Hawkins lose a no-hitter in 1990 not just once, but twice, because of a rule change by MLB in 1991, to the teams after the 1981 season; teams that were ok but not good enough to get past the Boston Red Sox or Toronto Blue Jays, which sounds all too familar now. Some of those teams were average, some were very good, but never good enough to win anything. It was a time of frustration, having to watch one of the all-time Yankee greats, Don Mattingly, unable to win a championship; Donnie Baseball ended up retiring one year too soon. Mattingly’s failure to win it all still stings many who loved all he stood for. Everyone that loved the Yankees pulled for his chance to play on a championship team and it is one of the truly depressing times for lifelong Yankees fans.
With anything in life, a person gets comfortable and used to something when it’s great and happens all the time. With the Yankees, it has been winning during this dynasty, and these Yankee teams brought back memories of the last one which featured “Murder’s Row”.
The Yankees have never had a grey area with baseball fans; they are either loved or hated and it is because of all the winning and titles that so many Yankee fans have gotten used to, whether they have been a fan for a few years or a few decades.
It may be easy for many to judge Yankee fans as they voice their disagreement on how things are going with the Yankees this offseason, but it should also be understood. Hate the Yankees, love the Yankees; no one can dispute the fact that the Yankees franchise is the most successful in all of baseball.
When the time comes for Jeter to retire, he will go down as the greatest Yankee ever, far more for the man he is than his statistics.
Jeter, for so many of those years, was captain of these teams that were always under a microscope and he never crumbled. As many may have forgotten, it was George Steinbrenner who demanded the skinny, weak armed, shortstop from Kalamazoo, Michigan be the 1996 starting shortstop. Who knew that decision would change the Yankees forever?
The 2013 season is about more than just how the Yankees perform; it is far deeper and more a farewell to what was and a time to reflect, on how blessed Yankee fans have been to watch the last true dynasty in all of sports.
Now the question becomes, can they assemble another one?