"Yanks Resemble Rangers"
Did you ever think that was a possibility before the season began? Before you wander off wondering which Rangers, well it's not the Texas Rangers, who have been one of baseball's surprises.
Yes! The New York Rangers. Otherwise known as Ranger$ to the rest of the league formerly but again soon to be known as the NHL. The team that missed the postseason seven consecutive years, embarrassing itself during that dark time by overpaying free agents, dealing for superstars but getting little in return. Once a Ranger, no matter how stars performed, Madison Square Garden became a personal retirement home for aging players. Players such as Theo Fleury, Valeri Kamensky, Mike Keane, Brian Skrudland, Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros, etc. came here to retire from competitive hockey. Oh btw... that would be making the playoffs. Instead, the norm was for them was to fizzle instead of sizzle, forming zero chemistry with teammates and getting lost in the abyss.
Well, folks. That high priced theory has now spread like a deadly virus to the Bronx. Once home of four World Series winners in a five-year period, since dropping a classic Game Seven to Arizona in 2001, the Yankees have regressed. Despite The Boss spending more and more on big name stars, the end results have continued to produce no 27th World championship. Instead, the decline has been a slower process. While the Yanks did qualify for October baseball the past three years, they still fell short of the ultimate goal.
In 2002, the new look Yanks with big name Jason Giambi leading the charge were no match for a bunch of rally monkeys in Anaheim. In 2003, after showing some heart against the archrival Red Sox, winning an epic seventh game on an Aaron Boone extra inning homer, they fell apart against the wild card Marlins, dropping the final three games to lose the World Series in six at the Stadium. Last year was the biggest choke of all-time and it came against Boston. Imagine having owned the Sox for so many years since the acquisition of The Babe in 1918. And you're up three games to none vs the hated Chowdahs and can't finish them off?!?!?!?!?! Did Hell freeze over last fall? Depends on which side you talk to.
Ultimately, whatever edge the Yanks had over Boston ended. Need any more proof? Just watch how David Ortiz crushes Yankee pitching everytime he sees them. Well, it seems like it. The Yanks must be seeing this guy in their nightmares. Oh. And it's not just Big Papi either. Manny Ramirez. Johnny Damon. Edgar Renteria. Jason Varitek. Trot Nixon. Heck, even Jay freaking Payton owns Randy Johnson. The 'supposed answer' to Boston. That would be the same 41-year-old 6-10 lefty who looks like he wants to be anywhere else than on the mound for the Pinstripes. The same guy who insists that as long as he keeps his team in games, he's done his job. Come again Randy??? You are a five-time Cy Young Award winner who's dominated major league hitters for over a decade and you think your job description is just to keep your ball club afloat? Whatever happened to being an intimidating ace who knocked batters off the plate and struck fear into opponents and could shut them down? Guess that guy retired once he put on the Ranger uniform. Oops. Meant the Yankee one.
This is what's happened to this once proud franchise. They have gone from blood and guts guys who left everything on the field like Paul O'Neill to this? Oh. And if you think Johnson is the only problem, have you seen the latest NL free agent disaster Carl Pavano pitch lately? This guy, who had one career season last year scored a five-year $40 million deal? And how has he repaid his new team? Or sucker? By serving up 13 homers already and a major league worst 93 hits. Couldn't the Yanks have just brought back George Steinbrenner's favorite toad, Hideki Irabu for this?
Meanwhile, Jaret Wright is on the DL forever. Another genius move by the Tampa faction. If they brought in any worse guys, you'd have to start wondering if they were related to Jim Dolan. Where the goal obviously is not to compete for anything much less a championship. Just ask Ranger and Knick fans!
But this wasn't supposed to happen to the $200 million Yankees. It doesn't matter how much money they spent and hasn't since Steinbrenner vowed to make changes after the '01 team came so close. Every year the payroll increases. And every year, this team looks more and more like the Rangers, who didn't even ice a team this year. Are they trying to replace them? Is Derek Jeter now the captain of a sinking ship, destined to never see the postseason ever again?
What will Kevin "Punch wall" Brown blame his next loss on? What crazy lineup will Joe Torre come up with this time? Will A-rod please stop focusing on hitting and start taking more grounders at third? Will Matsui start driving more balls over the wall? Will Giambi please hit a ball to the left side instead of trying to jack every pitch he sees into the stratosphere? Will Tony Womack please not get picked off first and kill a rally? Ditto Bernie Williams, who was gunned down at second for a twin killing against the measly Royals. Did I even mention that this team got swept by the Royals? And Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, George Brett, Hal McRae and Jeff Montgomery were not on the field.
The same overpaid bunch of stiffs also were swept by the lowly Devil Rays a month ago. What's next? The schedule makers add Colorado to the mix and they victimize this sad sack bunch?
There are times this season where this ball club just doesn't look into it. Like they'd rather be elsewhere instead of playing a fun game that involves a ball, bat and gloves. That was the exact impression I got watching them mail in those three games at Kansas City. This what those Rangers used to do at MSG Retirement Home.
The recent Yankee teams never looked that way. Even last year's team was good at coming from behind. And until things imploded vs Boston, they seemed like a good bet to win it all.
It just doesn't look like these guys are having fun anymore. Almost like baseball has become too much of a chore. Maybe this isn't a close knit bunch that hangs out after games. Or maybe they're just too damn old. It had to happen eventually.
Even the manager looks helpless to what's wrong. His team just dropped its sixth in a row with Mike Mussina blowing a 3-0 lead to the Twins. That's the ball club's worst losing streak since 2000. But that team was different. They all had roles. The lineup wasn't like musical chairs. This fan never panicked when that team was swept by the doormat Tigers because those Yankees had the right chemistry. They didn't rely on George's pocketbook. If someone failed to get a hit, another player would pick them up. Ditto for the bullpen, when it came to recording outs.
The Yankees have given their fans a great decade. They spoiled fans into thinking October was a given in life. But all runs must come to an end. I just never pictured them evolving into one of sports most pathetic franchises.