Historic Yankee futility

Barely alive, New York is on the verge of elimination for the first straight year. Also: Stadium closing.

Published September 22, 2008 11:00AM (EDT)

The New York Yankees staved off elimination Sunday night by beating the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 in New York. The win kept the Yankees barely alive in the American League wild-card race, trailing the Boston Red Sox by six and a half games. If the Yankees win their remaining six games and the Red Sox lose their last seven, they'll meet in a one-game playoff.

That almost certainly won't happen, and that means this is another year when the once great Yankees franchise has fallen short of the postseason.

It's another year without a championship for Derek Jeter, who at 34 has had a down season and may be in his decline phase. If the Yankees don't get things turned around soon Jeter may well retire with only four World Series titles and six pennants to his name. Has any player so great won so little?

Imagine you're Mariano Rivera. You're the greatest closer in history, yet you've never had a chance to pitch in a playoff game, except in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Though the Yankees are still technically alive, the postscripts and dissections and what-went-wrongs have been coming in for weeks.

Injuries, down years from Jeter, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera and the failure of phenoms Ian Kennedy and Philip Hughes to develop into effective pitchers have contributed to the Yankees falling short once again, a depressing streak of one year in a row without a playoff appearance for this downtrodden franchise. The futility streak matches those of the perennial non-champion Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians.

Notes: Sunday's game was the last at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will move across the street to a new park next season.

By King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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