It's hard, on Oct. 19, one day after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs via a humiliating sweep in the ALCS at the claws of the Detroit Tigers, to consider the Yankees' season anything but a failure. It's hard to feel confident about the 2013 squad. It's easy to assign blame to one and all and beg for some rich sucker to bite on the gargantuan contract of Alex Rodriguez.
And yet, take a step back and see this season for what it was: a success.
The Yankees didn't make the ALCS in 2011. Nor did they in 2005, 2006 or 2007. They didn't make the playoffs at all in 2008, and the next year they came back and won the World Series.
For as little “heart” and “grit” as the Yankees have been accused of having during the ALCS, they sure displayed a lot just to get there.
For nearly two months they were at war with the Orioles, and Baltimore was often so close the Yankees could feel the Orioles' breath on the back of their necks. But the Yankees won when they had to, took the AL East and had the best record in the entire league at season's end.
In the ALDS they battled Baltimore again, and they won with superb pitching—the likes of which has been starkly absent from recent Yankees playoff teams—and, believe it or not, power and timely hitting. Russell Martin hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning of Game 1. Raul Ibanez first tied Game 3 with a home run in the ninth inning and then won it with another blast in extra innings.
Sure, it wasn't the bludgeoning offense the Yankees displayed during a torrid stretch this summer, but they weren't exactly playing the Kansas City Royals here either.
In the ALCS, the pitching (for the most part) held up its end of the deal, but the offense collapsed about the same time Derek Jeter did.
And who didn't see that coming? The Yankees, devoid of their Captain and biggest postseason player, were forced to field a lineup that was banged up and bruised. Mark Teixeira had an injured calf, tried to come back early and re-injured it. A-Rod fractured his left hand on a Felix Hernandez pitch in July and fought to come back right on schedule. Brett Gardner injured his elbow in April, had a series of setbacks, only returned to the majors in late September but found his way onto the postseason roster.
That's grit. Not finding hits in the playoffs? That's luck.
And so the 2013 Yankees don't need to be torn down, they just need to be patched up.
In April, Jeter will be back fielding ground balls, A-Rod will swing with two good hands and Teixeira will run on two good legs.
The Yankees will win a couple games and the only October anyone will care about will be the one coming up.
Even if it's hard to see all that on Oct. 19.