What a season. From being told it was a “rebuilding” year in which we might not even go .500, to being one win away from the world series was one hell of a ride. We saw guys who were just prospects at the start of the season become legitimate stars. There were some absolutely crazy games, from the great comeback against the Orioles
to Gardner’s clutch homer against the Cubs a few days later
and then an 18-inning thriller two nights later
you could tell right away this team was not “rebuilding” and that they were going to contend. Aaron Judge was having one of the most productive first halves in MLB history, Luis Severino shed his 2016 struggles to become a bona fide ace, Gary Sanchez was building off of his masterful rookie campaign, and Didi Gregorious was having a career year. On top of that, guys like Aaron Hicks, Matt Holliday, and Starlin Castro also were playing extremely well. The Yankees had 5 All-Stars this year (Judge, Sanchez, Severino, Castro, and Dellin Betances), with Didi and Hicks also having legitimate cases to make the team.
After Judge put on a show in the Home Run Derby, however, things started to go south for the Yankees. The second half was wildly inconsistent. Judge went through an awful slump in which he set a record for most consecutive games with a strikeout. Masahiro Tanaka was inconsistent from basically May until August. No one could hold down the first base job until Greg Bird finally returned in late August. And Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances went through stretches where they just flat out could not pitch for the life of them. But behind Judge, Bird, and Tanaka, the Yanks played well in September, finishing two games behind the Red Sox for the division but securing the first wild card spot.
The wild card game did not start as planned, as Luis Severino was able to get just one out. As us Yankee fans saw the entire season flashing before our eyes, Didi Gregorious came up in a big way.
The Yankees of course went on to win that game and advance to the ALDS to play the Indians. After getting shut out by Trevor Bauer in Game 1 and blowing a 5-run lead in Game 2 (what non-challenge?), they returned to the Bronx with their backs against the wall once again. They would not go down without a fight, however, thanks to Tanaka, Judge, and Bird.
I’ve never heard the Stadium louder than after Bird’s home run. Severino and a revitalized offense helped the Yanks to a Game 4 win the next night, sending it back to Cleveland for a winner-take-all Game 5. This time, it was Didi and CC Sabathia doing the honors.
The Yankees had done it; they came back from a 2-0 deficit to knock off the best team in the American League and advance.
The ALCS started poorly, just as the ALDS had. The Yanks scored just two runs, basically getting beat by Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Correa, and Jose Altuve. Game 3 in the Bronx went differently, as the offense heated up again and the Yanks cruised to an 8-1 win. Game 4, however, was not as easy.
One of the greatest Yankee playoff games in recent memory. After a Game 5 win behind Tanaka, the Yankees were just one win away from the World Series. But their struggles in Houston continued, and they were eliminated last night.
This was by far my favorite team and season since 2009. They were a perfect mix of a young core and productive veterans. This team has all the pieces to be good for a really long time. People are already comparing them to the ’95 team that lost in the ALDS to the Mariners before winning 4 of the next 5 World Series. But wasting an opportunity like this sucks because there’s no guarantee they come back the same way next year. People thought the 2015 Mets would be a force for years to come too. I know that’s not exactly the same because they’re the Mets and they will forever be a perennial disappointment (sorry Mr. Walker), but the “we’ll be back next year” mindset only helps numb the pain so much when you know you had a legitimate chance to win it all this year.
Overall, this season and playoff run was more fun than I ever could have imagined for this team. Watch out in the upcoming days for my 2017 Yankees report card where I’ll give every player a grade on how their season went, I bet you can guess what I’m gonna give Tyler Clippard and Chris Carter. (Remember those guys? Amazing how far we’ve come.)
Whether the rest of baseball likes it or not (they don’t), the Yankees are back. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this team. The countdown to 2018 starts now (158 days.) It’s been real, it’s been fun, it’s been real fun. Until next time, let’s go Yanks.