When I was on the road following the Yankees last year, voicing my distress about the team’s horrible first half to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News, he said, “Yankee fans have to appreciate how hard it is to win.” That line made it into the book. What got cut in the editing process was what he added. “Derek Jeter always says a season is a waste if you don’t win the World Series. I completely disagree with his all-or-nothing philosophy, because it’s trickled down to the fans, and I think it’s a shame.”
And now here is Jeter, telling Kevin Kernan of the NY Post the same thing: “This year was a waste.”
Was it? Obviously, it was disappointing. Clearly, we all wanted not only to make the postseason but to win a 27th world championship. No question, we were hopeful that Joe Girardi and the kids (not just Hughes and Kennedy, but Shelley Duncan too) would succeed.
But a waste? I beg to differ. I watched just about every game this season and there were pleasures to be had. In no particular order:
* Molina throwing out runners. Great job by a second string catcher who stepped up when Posada went down.
* Damon re-emerging as a solid leadoff hitter, batting .300 and running the bases like the Damon of old.
* The Veras-Bruney-Ramirez bullpen making a strong showing for most of the season. Once Joba moved to the starting rotation and Farnsworth and Hawkins were dealt/DFA’d, they got the job done and were later joined by Robertson, Coke, Marte and Giese. Bruney was good before his injury and even better after, and Coke has been a revelation.
* Joba adjusting from the pen to the rotation, seemingly with ease. Personally, I like him in the pen as heir apparent to Mo, but either way I’m flippin’ glad he’s on my team.
* Mo having one of his best years ever. The guy is 39! Now we hear he has a shoulder problem and pitched with pain all season, which makes his performance that much more amazing.
* Mussina coming back from a dismal year to become our ace. I sure hope he gets win #20 tomorrow. No one deserves it more.
* Abreu shining yet again at the plate. Six straight seasons with 100 RBIs, 20 homers and 20 stolen bases. Not too shabby.
* A-Rod putting up good numbers in an “off year.” Love him or hate him, I’m glad he opted in as our third basemen or we’d be talking about Joe Crede. I’ll take those 35 homers and 100+ RBIs any day.
* Nady landing in Yankeeville. The guy reminds me of the gritty Tino and Brosius and O’Neill. With a little more patience at the plate, he could be outstanding.
* Gardner speeding around the bases. Who knows if he’ll be able to hit consistently, but he was a spark plug late in the season when we needed one.
* Aceves showing some promise as a possible starter next year. Either that, or he’ll end up being the “Mexican Chase Wright,” as Peter Abraham called him.
* Jeter breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for hits at Yankee Stadium. Hello, Derek? Was making history this season really a waste? I didn’t think so.
Any other thoughts while I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy?