October’s Very Own: What Losing The Core Four Means For The Yankees

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/ October 9, 2013

It’s early October and Yankee fans are in a weird space in life. The post-season is almost considered a birthright for those who praise the Pinstripes. Pretty much to the point that Yankee fans count on the certainty of American League titles like they do taxes and death. Hard to blame them considering that in the last 20 seasons, the Bronx Bombers have made the post season 17 times, appearing in nine AL Championships and winning five of the seven World Series Championship’s they’ve appeared in. The Yankees built that winning foundation on dreams even Steinbrenner money can’t buy. Four farm system products of the early 90’s named Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter all hitting their marks at once, blossoming into a force known as The Core Four. With hip-hip Jorge calling it quits back in 2011, Pettitte and Mo gracefully bowing out this year to a tearful ovation, only the Captain remains. So what does that mean for the Yankees organization and it’s fans?—Terrence Watson

It’s time to reflect
Yankee records are in abundance with this crew. Posada’s in a class with the legendary Yogi Berra as the only MLB catchers to hit 30 HR’s in a season. Not to mention, he’s forever enshrined as the first person to hit a homer in the new Yankee Stadium. Pettitte holds the Yankee record for career strikeouts (2,020) and is Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in post-season wins (19). Rivera’s 42 post-season saves is the highest of all-time, with the next closest total being 18. Mo’s 652 career saves also tops the Major league record. Jeter’s career hits total of 3,316 makes him the only Yankee to pass the 3,000 mark.

Collectively, the group won five World Series title. Finding another four players to amass as many records and wins as them… well, nothing’s impossible but it’s not likely.

Understand Their Place In Baseball/Yankee History
As great as they are, no collective group of players is bigger than the organization itself. If there’s one thing Yankee fans can be sure of, it’s that the dynasty’s are cyclical and we’ll more than probably see a semblance of success from a “core” or two at another point in our lifetime. Building on the backs of the best is just what the Yankees do. The Murderer’s Row teams of the 1920‘s lead by Babe Ruth begot the Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio teams of the 30’s that won four titles; begot the Berra era teams of the 50’s (six world titles), begot the Mickey Mantle era; begot The Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson teams of the 70’s and so forth.

We all saw the Lion King, it’s a lot like the circle of life. No matter how sad it is to watch a group go out, it’s necessary so that the next reign can begin.

They won’t ever truly go away
Fans should appreciate what The Core Four built and what they represent for the franchise. Critics accuse the Yankees of trying to buy championships and yes, they do throw money around in a fashion only Lil Boosie could relate to, but these four are unique because they came up through the farm system and worked their way into Major League supremacy together. They were cultivated deep in Yankee culture and as Derek Jeter said in a recent press conference, they never became complacent because they “felt as though if we didn’t do our job, we were gone. We felt as though we had to prove ourselves each and every year. We never had an opportunity to get comfortable. We played for an owner that would get rid of you, and in my opinion, that was a good thing. We always felt as though we were competing for our jobs, and we had to prove ourselves each and every year, and that’s what we continued to do.”

That’s the attitude every player lucky enough to don pin stripes should have. Future Yankees can take that, understand where the bar is set and remember it every time they see Monument Park.

Trust in the Captain
Jeter is professional like DJ Clue. Whichever direction they go, believe Jeter, like the legends before him, will have a big part in steering the next crop of youngin’s the right way. His contract is good through next season, albeit with a player option (which he’ll most likely take and negotiate an extension in 2015).

While he was plagued by injury this season, appearing in just 17 games, the old short stop still had it in 2012 when he batted .316 and won the Silver Slugger award, the fifth of his career. The biggest item left on his career bucket list is chasing Pete Rose’s career hits record, which he trails by 940 hits. If he does stick around and hits his career average of 195 hits a season, he’ll most likely be around for another five years. Just enough time to show the newbies how it’s done.

New Blood, New Hope, New ‘Chips
You’ve got to check history books in China to find more strings of successful dynasties than there are in the Bronx. The biggest question remaining is who exactly fills these shoes as the new leaders for the Yankees. Robinson Cano is an easy choice, Joba Chamberlain has shown signs of brilliance at times, and the Yankees have four top-100 minor league prospects in their farm system right now.

Could four be a magic number again? Fans sure hope so.

Photo Credit: Getty