Demise of the Yankees? Hardly.

Many of you were assuredly heartbroken, shocked, and otherwise flabbergasted at the news that came out of New York this week. In what is surely old news at this point Derek Jeter announced his retirement, Hideki Matsui was deported, Joba Chamberlain was abducted by aliens, and Phil Hughes was suspended for the use of performance enhancing drugs; this third suspension meaning a lifetime ban from baseball. The horror was truly unprecedented in…what? Hold on. I’m sorry. It’s my editor. This is very unprofessional and embarrassing. What’s that? What? No way. Are you serious? You’re not pulling my leg? You’re not joshing? Am I being Punk’d?! None of this happened? The Yankees aren’t decimated, broken, and in danger of being contracted?

If you had the misfortune of listening to or reading what anyone had to say about the state of the Yankees this past week you would have been led to believe that the Yankees no longer had the capability to win baseball games. From talking heads to quality sportswriters, everybody took turns hitting the Yankees while they were down. This is fine in one respect. It’s the nature of the 24-hour sports world. In the same way that vultures swoop down to pick the last morsel of meat off a bone, analysts want to bludgeon you with their opinion and then move on to the next juicy story. There’s only one small itsy bitsy teeny weeny caveat to this particular story. It was overblown and lacked a lot of what some in the business call truth. You know, honest to goodness facts?

Allow me to expound. Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada, Bobby Abreu, and yes Joe Torre all could be gone next year. This could happen. I also could conceivably win America’s Next Top Model if the contest was looking for inordinately attractive if not slightly overweight males. These are the New York Yankees people! There’s a reason most of the country hates them. If these players are not on the roster next year(or in Torre’s case managing) it is because the team decided to go without them. That decision may turn out to be wrong but these players are not interlocking elbows as they march out of the stadium, the city, and our collective hearts. If A-Rod leaves he will be the first player to leave New York at the top of his game since….well since no one! He will be the first player to ever do this in history. Unless the Yankees try to sign Rivera and Posada to minor league contracts or the first ever play for food baseball contract they will return. The Yankees have a team option on Bobby Abreu. He is the #3 hitter in the lineup, a cushy spot batting in front of A-Rod and if he goes it will be because they get in on the bidding for a top outfield free agent this off-season. Then there’s Pettite. He has a player option and could decide to leave but evidence suggests they will do everything in their power to persuade him to return. The Yankees struggled to find a big game pitcher after he left the first time and their resigning of him signaled an acknowledgment of this mistake.

Then there’s Joe Torre. I’ve been a Yankee fan since I can remember and when I was ten years old the Yanks decided on Joe Torre as their manager. The Daily News headline read “Clueless Joe” and people’s expectations weren’t too high. 4 World Championships, 6 pennants, and 12 playoff appearances later they’re considering firing him? My brain hurts. I have dendrites misfiring all over the place.What?! Is the success a little too much? Maybe some hard times would be fun to shake things up? Make people around the country rally around the defenseless 4th place Yankees?

The Torre Job watch was foolishly initiated by George Steinbrenner and its fires fanned by story-hungry sports writers who left common sense and short term memory at the door. Does no one remember last year? The Yankees had flamed out even worse, swept at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. There was a viable, respected, and New York proven replacement in Lou Piniella. Cooler heads prevailed and Joe Torre remained as manager. It won’t be any different this time.

As you can see Yankee loathers around the country will not be able to see the downfall of the Yankees. The team is licking its wounds now but allow me to paint a picture for you. In my infinite wisdom I can give you a rather accurate depiction of the 2008 Yankee season. The team starts slow out of the gate, Rivera at age 38 seems as if age has finally caught up to him, reporters fire quizzical missives at a calm, reassuring Joe Torre, the Yankees get hot, then falter, then get hot again as Alex Rodriguez carries them to the playoffs. They win the AL East or the wild card and order is restored. The playoffs begin with an up and coming team setting their sights on Andy Pettite and the legendary New York Yankees.

And scene. The rest? Well, it will be decided out on the field and thankfully not in the minds of writers.


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