The Yankees could not fool themselves, as they did in the aftermath of recent eliminations, that they were a championship team that had not won a championship.
2021 Yankees were exactly what 162 games told us. An inconsistent club whose flaws nearly prevented him from the playoffs, then knocked the Yankees out of the postseason a few hours later.
They’ve never overhauled their offensive this year, even after taking out a crew of odds for Anthony Rizzo, and especially Sonny Gray from the players in the center, Joey Gallo. Amid the rapture euphoria in a playoff game on the final day of the season Sunday, it was easy to miss that the Yankees did so after being eliminated by one stroke for eight innings and a one-half over four strokes in total. That was after a day of running two rounds on four strokes. After a crazy season of big names (and huge bodies), they produced young enough to rank the Yankees 19th in every game.
So here on another elimination day, Gerrit Cole will be wearing goat antlers for not scoring even in the third inning. This is not a backbiting column here. Cole came in small late in the season and into the Yankees’ biggest game of 2021, not the expected $324 million ROI. But that was just another day when the Yanks couldn’t get a runner across the board without Homer and failed to make much of a threat at Fenway Park.
They lost the AL wild-card match 6-2, and made it even more painful because the opponent was the Red Sox. It was the second time in these five years of playoffs that a Yankee team had been expelled by Boston. They have been taken out twice by the Astros, and yes there is controversy associated with that. Last year, they were knocked out by the Rays, who have outlasted the Yankees in the AL East each of the past two years, remaining the Yanks with one division title in the past nine seasons and one World Championship title since 2001.
The Yankees can continue to believe they are better than the bottom line, but are constantly losing to the same group of teams. They’re not just good. They’re not an uncrowned champ. They have not been trained as well, in depth or better managed than the clubs that send them home.
They stubbornly adhered to an offensive philosophy of shoot, shoot, shoot, which unbalanced their lineup, worsened their defense, and reduced their athletic ability. He made them come back for more with Gary Sanchez and insisting that Gleyber Torres was a stop-and-trade point for Gallo, who belongs to New York as much as it is a revival of “Hee-Haw.”
They wondered what it would all look like if Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton were healthy. They were, and almost everything stumbled around them. Left bats and defending Rizzo and Gallo weren’t enough, namely because Gallo is just another Yankee he’s had with his good throw and huge moments. The most important exit speed with him is to redirect him out of town.
But will the Yankees do that? Once again, stubbornness is part of the formula, and it has removed all value from Sanchez, Miguel Andujar, Clint Fraser, Luke Voight – and possibly Torres, too. The judge is a year away from free agency. They have a thinner system after the acquisition of Gallo and Rizzo, which is also a free agent. Looking back, they now know that they made those sacrifices to play 8 ¹/₂ postseason roles.
While Cole was collecting the kind of game that puts you on the wrong side of the fan base, Boston player Nathan Evaldi helped the Yankees in two singles games, no outings and five rounds. Rizzo tied the Yankees within 3-1 with one in sixth. The judge arrived on the inferior one. For the second time in this game, Stanton has turned off the drive that exits most of the parks, but hit the Green Monster (on both Stanton he went homer jog).
The second time around, third base coach Phil Nevin attempted to score a Judge goal from the start with one. Did he have in mind not to leave it to Gallo, whom the Americans inexplicably put in the cleaning pit? The judge was cast on the board by a good amount. Gallo popped up, and the last flash died that Yankee crime would write a different story in 2021.
The Yankees were close to the must-win positions in their last three games of the year and their offensive total was five games from 14 results. They scored a win in one of those games to claim victory in the playoffs. And Cole was bad and their bats were familiarly missing and their season was over. They were hardly an accessory team, traces would be hard to find.
And they are certainly far from being a championship team that hasn’t won a championship.
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