Despite pain, playoffs a thrill
When rain washed away Game 4 of the ALCS on Wednesday night, I joked that Mother Nature had allowed the Yankees' season to survive another day. Even with CC Sabathia set to take the mound to stave off elimination, the end of the Yankees' playoff run appeared to be more a matter of when than if, given how old and tired the team looked.
By the end of Game 4 on Thursday, as the Yankees' season whimpered to an end with a humiliating 8-1 loss and a series sweep, I just wanted to be put out of my misery. I'm not asking for sympathy (trust me, I'm not that foolish ... go ahead and laugh, Yankees haters), but to watch a team that had been so solid offensively top to bottom for 162 games stop hitting all at once had become too much. The Tigers completely shut down the Yankees, allowing six runs in four games (the Yankees' .169 batting average for the series and two hits in Game 4 pretty much sums it up). And it wasn't all Alex Rodriguez's fault. Add Sabathia's awful Game 4 start to the mix, and it was time to say goodbye to 2012.
But even as I sit here disappointed with the Yankees' postseason performance, frustrated with the lack of offense and embarrassed by the shellacking, I'd still rather see my team's season end in the ALCS than in August -- or June (am I right, Cubs fans?). Losing a playoff series always hurts. The upside is that it means your team has enjoyed success -- with the playoffs come playoff disappointment.
The Yankees have made the postseason 17 of the past 18 seasons, but have won only one World Series since 2000. I still appreciate a division title and a postseason appearance even if it doesn't end in a World Series title. Are fans better off not experiencing the joys and thrills of success in exchange for avoiding the potential risk of heartbreak? Only one team finishes the season happy.
Will that team be the Tigers? I need to congratulate Detroit on advancing to the World Series. The Tigers pitched extremely well, got big hits when they needed them and basically dominated en route to the sweep. In order to make this a little less painful, I'm going to pretend that someone other than Delmon Young was named ALCS MVP (Jhonny Peralta? Phil Coke? Justin Verlander? Sure, any of those work just fine in my head). The Tigers will have five days before the World Series starts Wednesday to rest up and refocus. (You don't want a repeat of 2006, right Tigers fans?)
The Yankees had a great season. They finished with the best record in the American League. The team enjoyed some thrilling wins -- thank you, Raul Ibañez -- and their share of disappointing losses. That's what happens over the course of a 162-game season. Though they're getting even older and have to deal with some tricky personnel decisions in the offseason (I'm gonna miss ya, Swish), the team is not going anywhere (please come back, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda, and get well soon, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera). They're the Yankees. I have confidence. Even if that confidence is a bit shaken.