At a public seminar held at The New York Times headquarters in early summer, Yankees president Randy Levine was more expansive than usual. He acknowledged to the audience in unequivocal terms that the Yankees’ goal every single year is to win the World Series.
By their own standards, this season was a failure.
Other clubs can make it fairly deep into the league championship series and console themselves on having had a good run, tried hard and “We’ll get ‘em next year.” Not so for the Yankees. There are many upsides to playing for the most glamorous franchise in sports—exorbitant pay, unfathomable adulation, sellout crowds every night. But this is the downside: Every year is pass/fail.
Last year, they passed and it was a wonderful ride. This year they get an “F.” No moral victories here. No sympathy for poor Brian Cashman having to spend all his winter attached to his BlackBerry. He has to take his share of the blame. So does everyone in the organization
The fact is, with their massive investment in talent, with their spare-no-expense approach to improve even marginally, the Yankees basically have a bye into the postseason every year (or you might call it a “buy” into the postseason). They almost never have the tense ride to get into October that most teams have. Their real pressure begins in October.
To the very end, they had many of us fooled. We spend all spring, summer and early fall talking about the many wonderful aspects of the team—every guy is a star, every coach is a genius. Even coming into tonight, many of us (this blogger included) just assumed they would beat Colby Lewis because they’re the Yankees.
It’s not that simple. Nor is it simple to win it all as regularly as the Yankees did in the late 1990s and 2000. In the past 10 years, they have exactly one world championship. That’s tied with the Marlins, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cardinals and Phillies—none of whom is on the pass/fail system.