The last time the New York Yankees put forth this depressing a performance at home, from the plate to the mound to the field to the crowd, it was Game 2 of the 2012 ALCS, less than 24 hours after Derek Jeter clattered to the infield dirt, unable to shake off a shattered ankle he didn’t know he had.
That contest was also a home playoff game one stage prior to the World Series that was not played under the lights, leading to a strange funereal vibe in the stands and wayward thoughts of a fallen captain. The offensive drudgery also added to the misery, of course.
In this particular series, the Yankees do not have an official captain, but their leader, Aaron Judge, will be given the honor if he re-signs. Nestor Cortes said as much before Saturday’s game, which the team was better off not participating in.
Judge ended up “fallen” in this series in a very different way, hearing resounding boos by Saturday afternoon as the near-deceased crowd woke up only to let their hero know just how disappointed they were by the team-wide effort.
2012’s Game 2 was managed, dully, by Joe Girardi, a 3-0 loss to Aníbal Sánchez that was never that close. It was followed closely behind by two more losses, a slim defeat at the hands of Justin Verlander and a blowout capper.
2022’s edition? The Yankees weren’t done in by a Game 1 body blow like the Jeter moment, but simply did not show up for the fight in what was supposed to be a rematch with their most hated modern rival for all the marbles. Aaron Boone went to the wrong bullpen options every single time he was asked to make a decision.
The only questions remaining have nothing to do with whether or not the Yankees can luck out and seamlessly close the gap with Houston. All that remains is a discussion of whether or not the team will pivot 180 degrees in the opposite direction, as they did after the 2012 bloodletting.
Yankees’ 2012 ALCS loss ended an era. Will 2022 disaster vs Houston do the same?
After the Core Four era dissolved in a heap, the Yankees played one more season built around Robinson Cano, who was also fated to depart the next offseason. Beyond Cano, they lacked star power, taking faux bets on Kevin Youkilis, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells. There was almost no point to the sleepy circus that ensued.
Fans who just sat through the second half of the 2022 Yankees season know exactly what this offense would look like without Aaron Judge. Hell, Judge wasn’t functional this ALCS, either, and it looked similarly bleak.
After potentially the most depressing home playoff game since the aftermath of Jeter’s fall, one is left wondering whether the Yankees will retain Judge at a high cost, or whether they’ll let him depart, ushering in a 2013-esque new era of water treading.
And, if Judge does come back, will these Yankees spend around him? Or will they continue chasing the dragon of 2022’s first half, never to return and relying only on their superstar slugger?
There are at least five or six Yankees who, after this complete failure of an attempt at vengeance upon Houston, should never return.
There are several more whose returns are uncertain, even though they’d be welcome on a true contender.
The Yankees have been betwixt and between plenty of times over the past decade. It’s now on the front office to decide whether they want to chase an era of good feelings in 2023, or embrace the darkness.