Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Tino Martinez can't believe it, either.
The former Yankees great is as perplexed by the club's recent championship drought as some of the Bronx Bombers' most ardent fans.
"I think you and I would both agree that it wouldn't be 10 years again, with the talent they've had over the years," Martinez said Thursday evening.
"The team they had last year was a great team that could've won the World Series," Martinez added. "But you have to get that clutch hit. That makes a big difference in the series you're playing in and they didn't get the clutch hits when they needed them, for the most part. The pitching did a good job."
The Yankees, who were 103-59 last season, reached the AL Championship Series against Houston, but fell to the Astros in six games. That brought a spotlight on the Yanks' lack of a recent championship.
The Yankees have 27 World Series titles, which is the most -- by far -- in baseball history. But they have not won it all since 2009, meaning that the 2010s are the first decade since the 1980s that the Yanks haven't won the World Series.
And the 2010s are also the first decade since the 1910s that they did not at least appear in the Fall Classic.
Martinez was a reminder of past Yankee glory Thursday on a night full of them at the annual charity gala for Joe Torre's Safe at Home Foundation. Torre, who won four World Series as the Yanks' manager, was there, of course, as were former champs such as David Cone and Jim Leyritz.
Hideki Matsui, the slugging outfielder who was the MVP of the Yankees' 2009 World Series victory over the Phillies, was honored at the dinner, which took place at the Cipriani on Broadway.
Yes, the Canyon of Heroes, famed as the locale for the ticker-tape parades honoring New York's championship teams, is nearby.
So what do the Yanks have to do to get another ride in front of the whole city, from the Battery to City Hall?
Fans are clamoring for an ace free-agent pitcher and point at the rotation-based Astros and Nationals meeting in the World Series as evidence an elite rotation is vital for the Yankees. Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg top the want list.
Martinez, who was part of Yankee championship teams in 1996 and 1998-2000, agreed, "It'd be great to add a pitcher.
"But," he added, "they also need to get those key hits that can turn a series around."
Failing in the clutch destroys October momentum, Martinez explained, so when the Yankees couldn't plate runs when they had chances, it helped Houston and not just on the scoreboard.
"The playoffs are about momentum swinging here and there and that just gave the Astros a lot of momentum and they took it and ran with it," Martinez said.
The Yanks have enjoyed ridiculous success over the past 25 years, making the postseason 21 times. They've had a winning record for 27 consecutive seasons, the second-longest streak in MLB history behind the Yanks' streak of 39 in a row from 1926-64.
They reached the ALCS in both 2017 and 2019, so they've been in position to win, but haven't reached the World Series.
The Yanks' 10-year drought perhaps speaks to how difficult it is to win it all in today's MLB. Torre, who managed the last team to win consecutive titles -- those 1998-2000 Yankees -- noted that the 2018 Red Sox were a juggernaut, but failed to make the postseason this year.
"They looked like they'd be dominant," Torre said. "That was a dynasty in the making. It's tough to do.
"I feel very blessed," he added. "I inherited a special group of guys. They never stopped to admire what they accomplished. They kept working at it. When we lost in '97 (to Cleveland in the division series), they came to spring training the next year just champing at the bit. We ended up having a magical year, winning 114 games and the World Series.
"But the one thing about it today, especially with social media, I think it's tougher. One game, all of a sudden, we're putting people on pedestals. Our game is a game of life -- you've got to play 162 and you've got to go out there and earn every step of the way."