Reconciling postseason expectations as a Yankees fan

I’m going to the game tonight. I’m pretty excited to be able to watch some playoff baseball in the Bronx for the first time in two years (spare me the spoiled comments), but I’m also nervous that this could be the last game of the season. I hate the feeling of no more Yankees baseball to watch until Spring Training (or any baseball, for that matter). The playoffs are great, but also bittersweet in that there will be no more baseball to watch in about a month, whether or not the Yankees move on.

Depending on how far the Yankees advance, proclamations will be made about the degree of success the team had in 2015. Generally, the mantra is World Series or bust. I’ve wrote before that such logic is silly, even for an organization as rich as the Yankees. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that watching the regular season unfold with reasonable expectations is much more enjoyable than demanding perfection. Setting World Series victory as an ultimatum on a yearly basis drains from the fun of the sport, and makes actually accomplishing the feat more of a relief than anything.

So whatever happens tonight, I still will be happy with what the Yankees accomplished in 2015. An argument can be made that the front office and ownership has been a letdown since 2012, but 2015 has already been filled with plenty of satisfying stories. Yes, you can still enjoy this team even if you’re pissed that Stephen Drew played too much or that they didn’t acquire David Price at the deadline. Whether it’s the comebacks of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the emergence of Luis Severino and Greg Bird, or the blossoming of Didi Gregorius, there’s been a lot to enjoy the past six months.

Virtually every other team in the postseason bracket is more talented, younger, and deeper than the Yankees. That’s indirectly a condemnation of the front office, but it’s also a credit to the on-field personnel for making it to this stage. If they make a run over the next few weeks, it’s gravy. It’s odd to say, but the Yankees probably shouldn’t have been here. Yes, that same team that seemed to be running away with the division back in July probably deserved the same fate as the 2013 and 2014 clubs.

This isn’t to say that I’d be satisfied with the same expectations next year. I expect improvement. I expected the improvement in this past offseason, but that didn’t really materialize. Rather, a lot went right for this team in 2015, despite some of the unfortunate injuries near the end of the season. I certainly hope the Yankees don’t expect A-Rod or Teixeira to carry the team again in 2016. But that isn’t important right now. We can worry about that in the winter. With first pitch just a few hours away, the Yankees have a clean slate. Time to sit back and root for a deep postseason run, while also appreciating what this team did despite the mediocre projections.

Go Yankees.

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