And Then There Was One

The New York Yankees' baseball season came to an end on Sunday and for only the second time in 19 years they will not be in the Playoffs.  I've been a fan of the Bronx Bombers since I was a kid and even though I witnessed the Post-Season Drought of the 1980s and early '90s, I have become spoiled like so many others. October without the Yankees just seems weird, but I might have to start getting used to it again.  The team was plagued with injuries in 2013, but old age (relatively speaking in the productive years of a professional athlete) also was an enormous factor to their struggles.  There is no guarantee that 2014 will be any different. Both starting pitcher Andy Pettitte and future Hall-of-Famer closing pitcher Mariano Rivera played their final games and are heading off into the retirement sunset.  Shortstop Derek Jeter was bombarded with his own injuries this year, and even though he plans on returning, the handwriting is on the wall that the end is drawing near for his illustrious career.

Those players are the last reminders of the great team that enjoyed an incredible championship run since 1996.  When Jorge Posada left, the Core Four began to dismantle, and now Jeter, also known as Captain Clutch, is the final remnant of the glory years. 

The Yankees are loaded with a winning history.  I've read about the days of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, the streak of Joe DiMaggio, the peak era of Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, and so many other terrific moments that happened before I was even born.  As a kid, I became a fan thanks to the achievements of Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, and the rest. I stayed a fan during the crazy Bronx Zoo years, thanks in large part to the heroics of Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, and others.  I was rewarded by new Yankee thrills that seemed straight out of a storybook -- no hitters and perfect games, amazing highlights, and majestic milestones. 

When Jeter eventually retires, (and it will sadly happen all too soon), it will truly mark the end of an era.  Until then, I am grateful that I can tell my children and eventual grandchildren that I saw these legends of the game play.