Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Now Where Did I Put That White Flag...?

I haven't had to use it since 1993.

It's over, kids. Dunzo. Not just the division race, either. The 2007 New York Yankees are not making the playoffs. This weekend's embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Angels sealed their fate. Throw in one additional loss to the woeful Blue Jays, and the Yanks sit at 21-28, 13.5 games behind the Red Sox and 7.5 games (and about a million teams to pass) out of the Wild Card.

Doctors are calling it on May 29: the patient is dead. Fans and players alike keep waiting for a 10- or 12-game winning streak that's never going to happen. We've been conditioned to expect greatness from this team for the past 13 years, a long enough time that a lot of us can't remember what it's like to simply have a bad team. And that's what we have here — a bad team. A team that has yet to win four games in a row this season and has only won three in a row twice. A team that is not particularly adept at pitching, hitting, fielding or baserunning. A team with significant holes in its lineup and a gaping abyss in its bullpen. Things are falling apart; the center cannot hold.

As May turns to June, we pass the point of no return. It's unfortunate that the Yankees have already committed millions of dollars to Roger Clemens in one last desperate attempt to deny that it's time for rebuilding in the Bronx. It's time to sell at the trade deadline; not buy. There's no shame in folding up shop for the year and looking to the future. Years of regrettable decisions led us to this crossroads. Today is the day that the front office, and more importantly, the fans, swallow their collective pride and admit that 2007 is a lost cause. The Red Sox have been run more efficiently and productively than the Yankees for several years now. Breaking the bank in a vain attempt to catch them this year will only further delay the inevitable re-imagining of the Yankees.

Give up the ghost. We're done. It's only fitting that the death rattle occurred against the Angels, the team that started the Yankees' fall from grace in the 2002 ALDS. Frankie Rodriguez began the 2002-2006 era with a dominant playoff performance as a rookie, and on Sunday he put the exclamation point on with his fist pump after retiring Captain Intangibles to end the sweep.