Following years of dismay, I finally believed that the Yankees were returning to their gloried past. It was not long ago that Tino Martinez and Derek Jeter hit post-season homeruns that sent 2001 New York into a frenzy, sending the Arizona Diamondbacks’ closer Byung Hyun Kim back to the locker room – twice. When Raul Ibanez sent the Yankees to extra-innings victory against the Orioles, one of baseball’s hottest teams, it was as if 2012 had become 2000. The starting pitching was on fire – a first for the Yankees in who knows how long – and the hitters were doing enough to win ball games. The real Bronx Bombers were donning Yankees pinstripes.
When Raul Ibanez hit the homerun to tie game one against the Detroit Tigers, I was jumping up and down in my living room, screaming, feeling like the twelve year-old that sat in wonderment back at the television screen in the 2001 World Series against Arizona. Suddenly, the Yankees were living up to the title of “Evil Empire.” Somewhere, George Steinbrenner was grinning, licking his lips in anticipation of another trip to the World Series. And then in a split second, the King of New York was overthrown, Gotham citizens didn’t know what to say, and Detroit took a 1-0 advantage in the series. Within moments, the Yankees’ season appeared in peril; 2001 was a mere figment of the imagination.
Every year New York fails to win the World Series, I consider the season a failure. It doesn’t matter whether the Bronx Bombers pummel the Red Sox, win over 100 games and advance to the American League Championship Series. Elimination from the post-season spells failure. This is how I think, this is how New Yorkers think, this is how players think and this is how Yankees ownership thinks. Therefore, as fulfilling as 2012 was (seeing the Boston Red Sox squirm under the leadership of Bobby Valentine was empowering), the season is ultimately a loss. Add to this the injuries of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, and the 2012 ended on a bitter note.
The one thing that I love about the Yankees is that they win. The Yankees play with class, the team rules are strict and every season is entertaining. However, some changes are in order. If Alex Rodriguez was indeed trying to pick up women from the on-deck circle during game two of the Detroit series, then I pray to god that he makes his way to Miami for 2013. If Jeter winds up on the injury list for much of 2013, then we better pick up a Hanley Ramirez, Marco Scutaro, Troy Tulotwitzki or similar all-star player. As for pitching, the Yankees were stellar in the 2012 post-season, but adding a Cliff Lee-type hurler would be ideal.
There’s no doubt that 2013 marks a new era for Yankees baseball. Jeter is out, Rivera’s clock is ticking to an end and A-Rod is likely parting ways. The sirens are ringing in New York, but there’s no reason to be shaken. With a strong off-season, the alarm will awaken a giant from eleven years of hibernation. That giant is 2000, and he’s starving for a World Series.