Yanks out of it in 2013, but who'll be back in 2014?
First, the good news:
The Yankees gave away bobblehead dolls Wednesday night and actually had them on hand when gates opened before their game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.
Not Mariano Rivera bobblehead dolls. Charlie Brown bobblehead dolls. You know, the beloved, beleaguered "Peanuts" character.
No one had to get a voucher or wait on line for hours for their plastic collectibles, as fans had to do -- or chose to do, actually -- on Tuesday night.
Tuesday's commotion created national headlines and a noteworthy scene at the ballpark. Lines of fans snaked around the concourses to redeem the vouchers for the late-arriving Rivera bobbleheads while the Yankees were getting manhandled by Tampa Bay.
Wednesday night was just about baseball. Unfortunately for the Yankees, who were eliminated from postseason consideration during the eighth inning of their 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
Once Cleveland completed a 7-2 win over the White Sox at about 10:15, the Yankees were finished for 2013.
With one final home game Thursday night before a season-ending trip to Houston, all that's left for the Yankees is to say goodbye to Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte before heading off into an uncertain offseason.
Will they also be saying goodbye to Joe Girardi, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Hiroki Kuroda, Boone Logan, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain? All will be free agents.
Here's a couple of hints: Chamberlain had three large packing boxes in front of his locker Wednesday.
Hughes gave up seven hits and three runs in two innings and fell to 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA.
Cano said he doesn't know what's going to happen.
So did Granderson.
If reporters got around to Kuroda, he probably would have said the same thing through a translator.
Will the Yankees also be saying a temporary goodbye to Alex Rodriguez, whose appeal of his 211-game suspension begins Monday?
And what of Derek Jeter? He appeared on the field last night only to join Rivera in presenting Pettitte with a going-away gift of a signed base from Pettitte's final home start.
That's what 2013 has come to for the Yankees: gifts and goodbyes. And the search for silver linings.
Girardi, who did a tremendous job amid the Yankees' never-ending injuries, should be back if he wants to be in 2014. But he's not thinking about it yet.
"I'm not to the point where I'm looking ahead really beyond today," Girardi said. "I don't know what tomorrow holds or the next day holds. I'm not really worried about the future or next year. My focus is to do the job this year."
When he enters into contract negotiations with the Yankees -- or the Cubs or Nationals or whichever team he fancies if he wants to relocate -- Girardi can point out that getting this club to the final week of the season with even a hint of a playoff chance was a major accomplishment.
But when asked if that makes him feel any better, Girardi said: "I don't imagine it will for a while. Just because that's who I am. I'm always of the belief that if we weren't to make the playoffs, that I could have done more, that the players could have done more, my coaches could have done more. I know they've all worked their tail end off. I'm never to the point where I believe it's OK not to have success . . . It's the way I was raised and it's kind of the way I'm programmed."
It's also the way Yankees fans have been programmed. To expect October baseball (and free bobbleheads) is almost a birthright.
At least they got one of those this season for their trouble.