As of June, the New York Yankees are almost the definition of mediocrity. That is the exact reason I believe they are the proving why they are one of the greatest franchises in sports history. This is an opinion that is most likely not shared by the majority of Yankees’ fans because they have been spoiled for most of the past three decades. I do feel, however, this may resonate with fans of other franchises who can respect greatness when they see it.
The last time the New York Yankees finished a season with a record under .500 was in 1992. That’s right, 24 years ago the Yanks went 76-86. Since that season they have finished above .500 every year, not to mention winning the A.L. East 14 times, making the playoffs 18 times, and, oh yeah, winning the World Series 5 times!
Those are some unbelievable numbers and for that reason, most Yankees fans are sick to their stomachs with this season. The team has been dancing around .500 all year. They manage to win 7 of 10 and make it back to the .500 mark and then will lose 3 of 5, to teams they should be beating, and fall below the mark again. Lets face it though, you are what your record says you are. The Yankees are not a great team this year. The hottest hitter on the team is a 39-year-old Carlos Beltran; the best pitcher up to this point is debatably CC Sabathia; the back-end of the bullpen may be otherworldly but the front-end is horrific. All of this makes sense though. The Yanks are in a rebuilding period. They are in the process of shedding massive contracts from players like CC, A-Rod, and Teixeira that date back to the 2009 season. The days of the Yankees throwing everything except the kitchen sink at the best players in the league to bring them to New York are over. They may have plans for acquiring a superstar like Harper in the future but for now they want to develop players from within their system and maybe have another version of the “Core Four” emerge from players like: Judge (RF), Sanchez (C), Severino (P), and Bird (1B).
Even with all of this going on, as of June 16th, the Yanks are still only 6.5 games out of first place in the East and only 4.5 games out of the Wildcard. What other team would have fans calling for the firing of the World Series winning manager and GM and to trade the majority of the starters to bring up the young guys when they are less than 5 games out of a playoff spot in June? The Yankees’ fans might not realize it, but this is what true greatness is. Always being in the race, even in the midst of changing the fabric of the team, is something that very few franchises can accomplish.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, “thank you, Yankees,” because I have not had to experience a year where my team is the laughing stock of the league, where my team is at the bottom of the barrel (at least not in baseball). I know that a World Series is most likely not even a possibility this year but I can still watch my team every night and know that when they trot out on that field, they are going to compete like a major league ball club.