Watching ‘The Captain’ during Yankees’ abysmal stretch is incredibly disheartening


All it took was two episodes of “The Captain” for me to grip my TV remote tightly … and then gently release just before it was going to break. For New York Yankees fans ~30 and older, the Derek Jeter documentary is full of nostalgia and provides a pleasant time warp after what we’ve been subjected to since 2010 (and, in the larger picture, since 2001).

It’s also been a breeding ground for further frustration concerning the 2022 … and 2021 … and 2020 … and 2019 … and 2018 Yankees. Why? Because despite the rosters oozing with talent, they’ve had no “it” factor to drive them across the finish line, seemingly unable to band together, tune out the noise, and stick it to the competition.

So, what’s the problem? Is it Brian Cashman? Is it manager Aaron Boone? Is it the collection of personalities in the clubhouse?

Could be all three! Cashman inherited the dynasty roster and his claim to fame was making trades to further supplement it. He never built a winner from the ground up. Boone has nowhere near the grasp on his players that Joe Torre did; Jeter famously documented that Torre let various personalities “loose” while keeping them in check, whereas a number of players have come to New York recently like Sonny Gray, Joey Gallo and others who have claimed they struggled to “be themselves.” Judge might be the de facto captain, but how many collapses/choke jobs is he going to oversee in that “role”? Will this now be the fifth straight?

When everyone at the beginning of the season started talking about the 2022 Yankees being a near-carbon copy of the 1998 Yankees, it just couldn’t have been more wrong.

Watching ‘The Captain’ as the Yankees collapse is disheartening for fans

Jeter saw some collapses himself, most notably the 2004 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, but that was after the Yankees had written their story and asserted their dominance. That doesn’t mean the 3-0 choke was any less egregious, but Jeter at least had a track record of owning the sports world before it happened.

These Yankees? Beaten up and down the diamond by their most hated rivals and the most brash trash talkers. Going through unacceptable stretches of play whether the roster is fully healthy or not. Failing to take advantage when they’re riding high and hesitant to parlay success with even more success.

When Jeter hung up his cleats after the 2014 season, he had captured one title over his final 14 years of play, went to three total World Series, and missed the playoffs three times. Since he retired, the Yankees have missed the playoffs once and advanced to the ALCS twice. That’s it.

The playoff success is one thing. Yes, it’s big. But what about overall demeanor? The 1996-2003 Yankees were dominant for many more reasons than just “talent.” They played as a team. They hustled. They lived for the big moments. They were always aware of the situation. They wanted to pound you into the dirt. They enjoyed doing it. They stood up to trash talkers, got into brawls, and never backed down.

The modern day Yankees love to punt games. They love to write off entire months with the hopes of “everything getting back on track at some point.” Their trade acquisitions never elicit a spark. They don’t make aggressive prospect promotions to inject life into the roster. They fold in big moment after big moment.

So, yeah, while “The Captain” has been a joyous watch, it’s also a harsh reminder that the Yankees are so far removed from their glory days that it’ll take repair beyond anyone’s comprehension to make it a reality once again.