We are about to witness something that has not happened in twenty years of Yankee baseball. Think about that before you read further. Twenty. Years. Twenty years ago today, there was no baseball. The season was shortened due to a strike, and Yankee fans never got the chance to see if they would make the playoffs that year. If they had made the playoffs in 1994, a very likely outcome, it would have been the first time the Yankees had done so in twelve years. Imagine what that twelve year drought would have been like with Twitter and blogs. Or don't, actually. Instead, focus on the fact that this year will mark the first time since that drought in which the Yankees have missed making the playoffs two years in a row.
A lot of younger, newer Yankee fans have never experienced this before. Before 2013, the last time the Yankees missed the playoffs was 2008. They responded by winning the World Series the very next year. This year will not follow the 2009 mantra of immediate success after dismal failure. Another playoff missed. Two in a row. Three missed playoff berths in the span of seven years, something that Suzyn Waldman referred to as "a bad thing" a week ago on the radio. It would be a laughable statement if so many people didn't actually agree that this was a bad thing. In seven years, the Yankees made it to the playoff four out of seven times, one of which resulted in a World Series championship. In what possible universe is that kind of victorious record considered a failure? Only in the Yankee Universe.
This is one of the rare cases where one can slightly defend Yankee fans, in terms of their spoiled rotten attitude towards baseball. It has been an incredible run since 1995. Any franchise with that kind of success rate for two decades would have fans be as spoiled as we have been. It's natural to think that the Yankees will always be on top of the baseball world because they have been. Now they are not for the second year in a row. Younger Yankee fans might not be used to this idea, but it's a common phenomenon known as baseball.
There comes a time when, for reasons both explainable and unexplainable, your team is not good and another team is better. As the offseason approaches, many questions will be asked about why the Yankees were so bad this year. As those questions are asked, there will be lots and lots of yelling and screaming from fans demanding that heads roll because of this. Joe Girardi will be blamed for lineup mismanagement and putting the Derek Jeter farewell tour above the best interests of the team. Brian Cashman will be blamed for all the 2013 offseason moves which somehow resulted in a worse offensive team than 2013. Rob Thomson will be blamed for his torrential downpour of mediocrity as the third base coach. The best thing to do in times like these is try to keep a calm, rational mind about everything. Friendly word of advice: avoid phrases like "If the Boss were here..." and people who use said absurd phrases.
The Yankees cannot always be good. No matter who gets hired and who gets fired. No matter what trade is made or whatever free agent is signed. Sometimes things don't work out. Finding a solution to why things didn't work out is part of the challenge. Some teams can take decades to figure that out. One team has literally not figured it out in over a century. It is in this situation where when someone utters the statement "It's hard to be a Yankee fan," another fan of baseball pretty much has the right to laugh in that foolish individual's face, as well as potentially punch it. It's insanely easy to be a Yankee fan. Even this year serves as an example of that.
Take a look at the Kansas City Royals. Right now, they are playing very good baseball and they are in the midst of a heated division rivalry with the Detroit Tigers. If they do not make the playoffs this year, 2015 will mark the 30th year since their last postseason berth. That's three decades of dealing with failure. The Yankees played without an offense for almost the entire year and, just like 2013, they still nearly made the playoffs. Yet the organization is being yelled at for teasing their fanbase with hopes of success as if it's a bad thing to want to try and win even when there's not much chance that they can. The nerve of those jerk stores, right?
It's not hard being a Yankee fan at all. This ideal that the Yankees and their fans have incredibly higher standards to live up to is ridiculous and just reeks of obnoxiousness. It needs to stop. For all the bluster and arrogance of saying "It's hard to be a Yankee fan" due to having to live up to one's reputation, would you rather root for a team like the Mets or the Royals or perhaps a first place team like the Angels? If so, there's the door. If not, kindly shut the bunt up.
It's time to come to grip with the reality of the sport we're watching, Yankee fans. This team cannot be good all the time, nor should they be. Other teams need a chance to excel in order to keep the sport interesting. If it really bothers you that the Yankees missed the playoffs for the second year in a row, think of their incredible success rate for the past two decades. Admire the players you've seen grow up during that time, one of which is retiring this year. Be comforted by the fact that this organization does not like losing and will spend quite a bit of money to try and get back on top as soon as possible. Finally, look at the structure of the sport right now. An offensively offensive Yankee team is still not mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture. This new system is designed so that a team like the Yankees or Red Sox almost always finds it way into the postseason for ratings and monetary purposes. Please consider all of that when thinking about what's next for 2015.