BALTIMORE -- No one really thought it would last forever, it just seemed that way. The Yankees' sustained excellence feels like it has lasted a lifetime and, if, say, you were born in 1986, it basically has.
When you were turning seven, the Yankees started making the playoffs every single year, save for 2008, through 2012. It was a birthright until you were 26.
I bring this up, because of what is going on with the current team and something I read from Larry Lucchino in the Boston Globe.
“We know the obligation of owning and operating a baseball team is to win games, and when you can’t do that for fans and for yourself it’s tough," Lucchino was quoted as saying. "But this is not John [Henry's] first rodeo or Tom [Werner's] first rodeo. We’ve all been around before and we realize it’s impossible to sustain things year after year, although our goal will always be to compete year in and year out."
The Yankees have nearly done the impossible. They have sustained for 20 years.
Nearly year after year, they have made the playoffs. Yes, they have financial advantages over other clubs and, yes, they have used it. But it was the perfect storm of the Core Four plus Bernie Williams complemented by the rich additions that made it all possible.
Now, with Derek Jeter taking his final bows, the Yankees are learning how the other 29 teams live. Over the last two decades, every CBA has been partly designed to strangle the Yankees advantages. While teams are richer, making them more able to keep their top stars, the Yankees' profits are squeezed a little bit by the luxury tax. Plus, by signing free agents and drafting late, it is more difficult for the Yankees "to get younger," as they and everyone knows they need to.
So what we are witnessing here may not just be the residue of losing four-fifths of their rotation. Lucchino's point may finally be coming true of the Yankees.
Their farm system is a little better than advertised. Dellin Betances is an All Star this season and there is some potential in guys like Shane Greene. Still, how many stars are in the system? We may never see another Core Four plus Bernie fivesome with the Yankees in our lifetimes.
The Yankees may never have another two-decade run, like the one they are completing from 1995 and on. It is not easy to do. Just ask their biggest rivals.