The New York Yankees were shut down yet again in Game 4 Thursday night, managing just two hits in an 8-1 walloping at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. The loss mercifully brings to an end what was a disastrous ALCS for the Bronx Bombers, the squad never once holding a lead in the series. The playoff sweep is the first suffered by the Yankees since 1980.
For Steven Goldman of Pinstriped Bible, as tough as the series sweep was to watch, its completion almost offers a release for Yankee fans. New York's fan base no longer has to stress and worry about what's caused the offense to disappear in the postseason, but can rather reflect on the positives of a successful 2012 and begin thinking about how the team can improve next year:
There is no word for what happens when an entire team, one that hit .265 as a group during the regular season, goes through nine games hitting, for all practical purposes, .000. We shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking that this was just one of those fluke strokes of bad luck that happens in baseball; the hitters looked too out of sorts for that -- in most cases the results were exactly what they deserved. And yet, we know that most of these players will be back next year, hitting just as well as they ever did. It's not like this postseason suggests the entire Yankees roster of position players are done and should retired...
There will be plenty of time from now through February to dissect this loss and discuss how the club might go about having not just the strength of a division-winning team, but of a champion. Tonight is for mourning, for reflection, and - judging from the postgame commentary on YES - to obsess about Alex Rodriguez (I swear that Michael Kay just argued that the team lost because the media was overly focused on the third baseman).
Reality returns tomorrow, and in some ways that will be the good part: this was a flawed team, it was a damaged team, and it will be much less stressful to talk about how it will get better than having to keep worrying about why and how it is hanging on.
For more on the Yankees from Steven Goldman and several others, be sure to check out all of Pinstriped Bible.