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The season isn’t a failure if the Yankees lose the ALDS

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This team is too special to consider it a failure.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Let me preface this story by saying that if the Yankees lose the ALDS, it will absolutely stink. I would be sad, as I have been sad every time they’ve been knocked out of the postseason. It is never fun to see your favorite team lose, and there’s never an ideal time for it. However, not every early postseason exit should result in a team’s entire season being labeled a failure.

For example, the Bombers were not supposed to make the playoffs in 2017. They were rebuilding and the team was going to be bad. I was so confident in this that I booked an October trip to Ireland six months in advance. That team surprised everyone, and I was forced to watch the ALDS and ALCS via my cell phone from hotel rooms at 3 AM. I’m sure we can all agree that it was disappointing when they lost, but there was also the feeling that they weren’t ever supposed to be playing in October, so Yankees fans enjoyed the ride while it lasted.

This season feels somewhat similar to me, but for different reasons. Since 2017, there has been the expectation that the Yankees would be in the postseason mix for years to come. Nearly the entire Pinstripe Alley staff predicted that they would even win the World Series. This 2019 squad was supposed to be really good, and it was—they won 103 games after all—but they faced a lot of challenges on the way.

If someone had told me in January that Giancarlo Stanton would miss 144 games, and that Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, and Mike Ford would spend significant time in the majors, I’d have thought the Bombers would have been in the AL East basement along with the Orioles. Just look at this chart:

Yankees 2019 Opening Day lineup

Player # of games played
Player # of games played
Brett Gardner 141
Aaron Judge 102
Giancarlo Stanton 18
Luke Voit 118
Miguel Andujar 12
Gary Sanchez 106
Greg Bird 10
Gleyber Torres 144
Troy Tulowitzki 5

The 2019 season was a grind. Any time a player got healthy, or good news was reported, we’d hear that someone else got injured or experienced a setback. The Yankees used 140 different lineups, and roughly 20 minor leaguers bounced up and down the Scranton Shuttle. It’s amazing that the next man up strategy actually worked, and worked so successfully. The Bombers found unexpected heroes everywhere they looked, and somehow managed to win 103 games.

The postseason is an entirely different beast, though. This Twins team isn’t the same one that the Yankees trounced in 2009 or 2010. Minnesota just edged out New York for the new home run record, after all, and these two teams battled during a heck of a series back in July. It isn’t a foregone conclusion that the Bombers will move on to the ALCS.

Baseball is a day-in, day-out sport, and the Yankees overcame adversity for 162 games. If it all goes south, a five-game sample in October shouldn’t take away from the truly amazing months that they put together in spite of everything.

That being said, I’m hoping the magic continues for just a few weeks longer.