(Please forgive the delay in this post, it's always easier to write about heartache when you've gotten a little bit more distance from the moment it all turned to crap)
Sunday an incredible day today. Shining sun, warm weather, leaves turning all golden and gorgeous and whatnot, and yet, for the first time since March there's no baseball to look forward to. It just doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel like we should be done yet, our team was too good, our stadium too pretty, our season too fun to be over so soon. But no matter how much I hope for a breaking news bulletin that says: "18 Yankees tested positive for steroids yesterday, they will forfeit all postseason wins and be permanently disbanded"...I don't think it's going to happen, so it's time for a long cold winter of bupkus.
Let's be honest about this: The New York Yankees are very good at baseball. They play better than we do most times we play them, and, not coincidentally they win most of the games we play against them. Now, that doesn't mean that I think they're a better team than we are, or that we are doomed to an endless slog of postseason failure, it just means that they are entitled to a little success now and then...of course, they've had 27 seasons of success...so...they've had their turn, now it's time to share with the other children. But "play well with others" has never been part of the Yankees' mission statement.
So, we lost, again...and while I wish I could say that I inured myself to the loss...I was pretty bummed. Watching the last outs with Stinky at the Country Bar in Uptown, you could just feel an encroaching sadness as we all sat, sipped our drinks and silently started our countdowns until spring training. We are, once again, part of the vast majority of teams who spend the winter muttering "wait 'til next year..."
Personally, I don't like to naval gaze about defeats, no talk radio, no ESPN analysis, just a little time to heal the wounds. Stinky made probably the best analysis I've heard as we walked out of the bar, which is that while we have a great team that does well over a long season, they aren't really built for the playoffs. In the playoffs you need one or two dominant front end starters. Since most of these pitchers cost about as much as a lifetime's supply of solid gold ice cream parfaits, we don't usually get them. (Even our attempted trades for guys like Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt get shot down, presumably because Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt don't want to be awesome). And, while Liriano can dominate at times, he doesn't do it consistently (unlike Johan...sweet, sweet Johan), and without consistent pitching our hitters feel like they have to do it all themselves.
During the regular season our hitters don't get so neurotic because you can lose one day and get another chance for the next 7 days in a row, but in the playoffs, you lose one day you only have two more shots, and that's it. So our hitters freak out when we fall behind because there's no margin for error, so everybody tries to be the hero rather than just being their regular old awesome selves (witness, Messers Mauer, Kubel, Thome, Cuddyer and Valencia who swung for home runs approximately 180% of the time). But if we have great pitchers, there's less chance of falling behind and, as a result less need for our line up to press. So we need a pitcher or two, and as I see it, we've got two options, one: have every Twins fan sell their liver so we can afford to sign a great starter who will shut down teams in the playoffs; two: kidnap and brainwash Felix Hernandez, Zach Greinke and Ubaldo Jiminez.
Those plans should work, but until then all we have is the old standard: "Wait 'til next year". There's a long legacy of "Wait 'til next year" teams. The Brooklyn Dodgers were always close but no cigar in the 40s and 50s, the Red Sox had regular runs at the title that came up short from the 60's to the 80s, the Braves fell flat in October throughout the 90s, and this last decade, it was our turn. Painful as these experiences were it made the final victory all the more memorable, of course, we hope not to wait quite as long as the Red Sox did, but we'll win again, and when we do...awesomeness.
So, I guess there's nothing left to do but wait for awesomeness. (Oh, and sell my liver)