Thursday, November 8, 2012

How The Yankees' Postseason Began

"What do you mean, 'swept'?"

The question punctuated the devastation in the room. No one was prepared for it. No one saw it coming. No one.

It didn't change the reality. The Yankees would not be the World Series champions.

For months experts had warned that the Yankees did not have the hitting with RISP to win the World Series. They scored runs, but not against elite pitching. The numbers didn't lie.

The Yankees, insulated by their own private media apparatus with a narrative of its own, assured us—or perhaps just themselves—that the 'experts' were wrong. The 'experts' weren't taking into account the return of Pettitte, explained the information bubble in which the Yankees had insulated themselves. The 'experts' didn't understand that a September of playoff-intensity baseball had given the Yankees the momentum necessary to carry them to a championship. They just didn't get that the Yankees were going to be the champions. Had to be.

It didn't change the reality.

There were rumblings that this loss would chasten the Yankees. That it would force them to rethink their power-heavy approach to building a line-up. Remind them that you have to welcome more diverse types of hitters into the roster.

Denial ensued.

“If you have a philosophy you believe in, that’s been tested, I have no problem with people asking about it, clearly trying to challenge it, trying to dissect it and tear it apart. But I am not going to turn myself into the Bronx Bunters because all of a sudden we didn’t hit for this week in October. That’s not our DNA. That’s not what makes us successful and that’s certainly not what’s getting us in the postseason every year but one year since I got here.” (Source).

Now the Yankees face a winter of uncertainty. They deal with an utterly reconfigured landscape. Other teams have power hitters too, and they're younger, and they also have pitching. The demographic advantage that once seemingly allowed the Yankees to buy up postseason appearances had faded.

For years, the threat of moneyball had been mocked. The Oakland A's, after all, never even won an ALCS. But now teams that had learned the lessons of moneyball, and had spent redistributed revenue-shared dollars—dollars that leveled the playing field and gave everyone a shot—smartly, were now in the ascendancy.

Will the Yankees compromise with their own legacy, or will they insist that the only path to a Championship is the one they remember nostalgically from yesteryear?

Only time, and at least $189 million, will tell.

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