The ALDS begins tonight. It’s sinking in that for only the second time in the last 19 years, the New York Yankees failed to make the postseason – music to the ears of every other team’s fans. But for Yankees fans, a postseason without pinstripes is just weird – especially this year.
The Yankees didn’t play in October in 2008, but there were more important things to think about. Yankee Stadium was being torn down, and though the Bombers failed to make the playoffs, the season-long goodbye to one of the greatest venues in the history of sports was a bittersweet distraction from the team’s shortcomings.
However, they did win the final game of the season, which might as well have been Game 7 of the World Series – they had to say goodbye to the Stadium with a win.
Fans also knew brighter days were ahead: Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett were all free agents. The Yanks were going to make some huge additions in the offseason and come back as the favorite to win the division in 2009 (and they won more than that).
This year, too, there were circumstances that surpassed postseason hopes. 2013 was the final season for two of the greatest Yankees to ever put on pinstripes and two of the best pitchers of this era: Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. Their farewells were similar to that of the original Stadium in that watching them pitch was a privilege that the next generation of baseball fans will be deprived of.
2008 wasn’t as bad because fans knew the Yankees would be back in the postseason the following year, but uncertainty looms in the Bronx for 2014. The “Core Four” is down to a crippled captain. The starting rotation needs serious help, and apparently their second baseman wants more money than what Walter White has to stay in New York.
Unlike the last time the Yankees failed to reach October, they may not be back next year.