Think about it: The Yankees might end up with the MVP this season, Alex Rodriguez, the Cy Young Award for Mariano Rivera, have the Rookie of the Year in Robinson Cano and the Comeback Player of the Year in Jason Giambi, and still they can't make it out of the first round of the playoffs.
So what? Since when has the Comeback Player of the Year's team been suddenly favored to win the World Series? A team could win all those awards and still have a starting rotation full of question marks, poor bullpen depth, and bad defense. Kind of like the 2005 Yankees.
We thought this team might be different, especially after the way it won Game 4 Sunday night against the Angels to stay alive.
Then it did what five straight Yankee teams have done in October: Lost the game it needed to keep going, or to win it all. This team falls down in October, every single time.
Right. The chances of a team not winning the World Series five years in a row even if they're the very best team are fairly high. They just are. Baseball isn't basketball. The playoffs, especially the five game divisional series, can often produce strange results. I'm not saying these Yankees teams weren't flawed, but if a team (with vastly different rosters over the course of five years) "falls down in October, every single time," does it mean they have some inherent choking gene as a whole franchise? Probably not.
They just lost. You have to be good and lucky to win eleven postseason games in a season.
Lupica goes on to criticize Randy Johnson and the bullpen for the playoff exit. Fine. He also, predictably, takes some shots at A-Rod and refreshingly, at Matsui for not hitting against the Angels.
Then he goes and writes some incredibly stupid stuff:
5. No leadoff man
Once again Monday night, Jeter was the heart and soul of the team and the most dangerous guy in the world to the Angels. He's still not a leadoff man. He wants to swing and hit it hard. The Yankees haven't had a real leadoff man since Chuck Knoblauch.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, playing baseball should want to swing and hit it hard. Derek Jeter got on base at a .389 clip this year, better than any other leadoff hitter in the majors. He was sixth in the AL in OBP! Also, it's not as if he's especially slow on the basepaths. He's a decent baserunner.
You want Chuck Knoblauch back? In 2001, he had a .339 OBP. The year before that, .366. Replacing Derek Jeter's 2005 with either of those seasons would definitely cost your team runs. You truly are New York's premier sports columnist, Lupica.
Now A-Rod, who might end up hitting 800 home runs in the big leagues, is No. 2 at the end of this season, the way he was at the end of last season. It was a joke then and is a joke now.
How is this a joke? A-Rod has an even better OBP than Jeter (.421). He's an unbelievable, MVP-caliber hitter. YOU WANT HIM TO GET AS MANY AT BATS AS POSSIBLE. If the Red Sox had batted David Ortiz second and moved Edgar Renteria far, far away from the 2-hole, he unquestionably would have had even more RBI opportunities and hence, more RBI. Who do you want to bat second, Lupica? Bubba Crosby?
He actually hit pretty good in the playoffs, and you can't call him a reason why the Yankees lost. And he was a huge hitter for the Yankees over the last three months of the season. He was Comeback Player of the Year, in baseball and BALCO.
And it is why this is a perfect time to pay somebody as much as the Yankees can to get him out of here.
Great. I hope they do. Giambi led the majors in OBP. He was a huge reason they made the playoffs to begin with.
He is not a good first baseman and never will be and you saw it again this week. He is a DH. Still working off a seven-year, $119 million contract.
Papi Ortiz, DH, real MVP of the American League, made $5.3 million for the Red Sox this season.
Yes, he should play DH. He sucks at first. Yes, he is overpaid. Pretty much everyone on the Yankees is, including (especially?) Jeter. David Ortiz' contract is one of the best bargains in all of baseball. Comparing anyone else's deal to his is pretty pointless.
9. A team of great All-Stars, not a great team
The 2003 Red Sox lost a crushing Game7 against Aaron Boone. The 2004 Red Sox came back from that, then got knocked down as hard as you can, down three games to none, and three outs away from elimination with Rivera on the mound.
They came back and won.
They had been through something together and it made them stronger.
Nearly every sportswriter and commentator wants to make a neat little narrative out of every single thing that happens in sports. Often these cute fables reinforce virtues like resilience, harmony, hard work, and effort. Often they're bullshit.
The 2004 Red Sox added an excellent starter and a lights out closer while retaining a high-scoring offense. That is why they were better than the 2003 Red Sox. Not because they had been through something together.
Plus, that has nothing to do with the Yankees. It just doesn't.
You thought it might happen with these Yankees. But these are not the old Yankees. Not even close. Just an All-Star team of old Yankees.
The Yankees were full of All-Stars. All-Stars are good, not bad. Stop acting like it's otherwise.
America's Premier Writer
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