From one of the most dominant teams in baseball, to the most questionable future, how does this team’s outcome affect Major League Baseball?
The New York Yankees, one of the most well-known franchises in the world for its success in the sport of baseball. In 2009, the New York Yankees had won 103 games and their 27th world series, showing much promise for the future. The franchise had just passed ownership from George Steinbrenner to his son Hal, and the championship was dedicated in his honor when he passed. They would move on from older, big star players like Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, for some of the more productive players like Curtis Granderson, and a developing young star in Brett Gardner. Most of the key players like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and C.C. Sabathia were still there to carry this team for years to come, so there was no look in a drop off in production from this group of stars. The future of this team looked as promising as it ever would in its franchises’ history.
Sadly we look at this team 6 years later, and compared to the Yankees that many baseball fans know of, this franchise is in complete disarray. The team had missed the playoffs for 2 straight years in 2013 and 2014 for the first time in 21 years, with many of their players becoming washed up and past their prime. 2014 wasn’t even just bad for the Yankees, but neither they nor the Red Sox had made the playoffs for the first time since 1993, who are easily 2 of the biggest powerhouses in the sport in the 21st century.
In 2015, the Yankees technically did make the playoffs with a record of 87-75 but lost to the Astros in the wild card game, which did not please many passionate fans due to the terrible performance by the team as a whole. The team had a great first half of the season, even having one of the best July records, not losing a single head to head series, and showed promise with a team that looked like they were a bunch of washed up super stars being overpaid. They ended up showing their true colors in the second half of the season though, blowing their division lead to the Toronto Blue Jays, and barely holding on to a wild car lead in the last month of the season. Much scrutiny by the fans was put on Brian Cashman at the trade deadline because while New York did basically nothing at the trade deadline, keeping Stephen Drew as their trusted second baseman even though his batting average was below .200, the Toronto Blue Jays went out and picked up Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, and completely annihilated the Yankees in the final push to the playoffs. Although the Yankees made the playoffs, the season was considered disappointing because of the second half performance that they put up.
During this time of a second half collapse by the Yankees, many young teams had been immerged into the conversation, such as the Royals, the Astros, the Pirates, the Rangers, the Cubs, and the Mets. These teams were built off of many young players, with a strong weapon being added before the season or the trade deadline that fit in perfectly. The chemistry was extremely strong with these teams, a factor that is definitely under looked at in the aspect of baseball, especially when you look at the Kansas City Royals who ended up winning it all this season. This was a team that had been under looked to even make the playoffs 2 years in a row, and ended up making it to the World Series 2 straight years. The team clearly wasn’t the best one on paper, in fact the best one, the Washington Nationals, didn’t even make the playoffs, but they had so many above average players that worked well together and produced the best outcome night in and night out. The team had so much confidence that the opponent could never count them out, even if they were down 4 runs in the 8th in a win or go home game, which they did to come back and beat the Astros in 5 games during the divisional round. The team had so much chemistry because all the players had come up together through the farm system so most of the players were used to playing with each other, with the edition of above average stars like Ben Zobrist and Edinson Volquez being brought in to help improve their roster.
This isn’t the first time a young with many young prospects on its team had come together, as the 6 winners since the 2009 season, when the Yankees had won, were the Giants, the Cardinals, the Giants, the Red Sox, the Giants, and the Royals. All the teams were young, besides the Red Sox who were inspired that season by the Boston Bombings, and unexpected to win but found a way to come out on top. The Giants have one of the best and most interesting clubhouses in baseball, and it shows because they have been able to win the World Series 3 out of the last 6 years. They have also been able to stay pretty young, with the addition of players like Hunter Pence to keep them intact. So the MLB has started to become a league where the best teams are the young ones, where many of the players have come up in the farm system together to create chemistry.
So how does one fix this speculation of a dying past time? The answer revolves back to the New York Yankees. The Yankees are the most hated franchise in America due to the fact that they have basically dominated the league and every team they have faced since their creation over a century ago. So if this team is in the playoffs, everyone tunes in to hope to see them fail to their oppressor. No one wants to see the Yankees win even though they haven’t been good for a couple years now, which is comparable to the Cowboys who haven’t been good since the mid-90s yet they are still one of the most hated teams in football. So although no one likes the Yankees, their success is important to the game.
But becoming this dominant powerhouse again is not that easy. Baseball has changed and the Yankees cannot rely on money like they used to for creating a powerhouse team. As previously mentioned, the teams that succeed are the ones that are created through the farm system, but the Yankees are not a team that can stand to wait, and neither can baseball. The Steinbrenner family demands excellence and will not tolerate anything else except perfection. The team is in a sticky situation because although they have young stars coming up like Louis Severino, Rob Refsnyder, and Greg Bird, they have many players on their roster that are playing past their prime, and are under performing to what they are being payed. If they decide to pull the plug on their old players, and become a team built off a farm system again, kind of like the core 4 era of Posada, Jeter, Pettitte, and Rivera, the fans will have to wait several more years to hopefully believe that their team can pull off a playoff run. But as we know best, New York fans are not very patient and demand excellence right away. Baseball needs the Yankees, but the Yankees are in no way, shape or form, ready to give back to baseball.