Hal Steinbrenner, Aaron Judge
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Uh oh… New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner just spoke those magic words that’ll have fans losing their collective minds.

Cue the madness. Spark the outrage. Call every one of your New York Yankees fan friends and tell them what Hal Steinbrenner had the nerve to say.

“The 2019 season was not a failure.”

How dare he.

Speaking with YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits, Hal labeled the 2019 MLB Postseason a disappointment yet wouldn’t call the entirety of his organization’s campaign the same.

“Look, we enter every October with the mindset of winning the championship and we failed to do that,” Steinbrenner said. “There’s no way to sugarcoat that and we’re all disappointed for a fans’ sakes.”

Steinbrenner undoubtedly took an optimistic approach.

“We had some good games in there, had a great division series; but, in the end, in October, we failed.

“That does not mean the season, of course, was a failure.”

As much as many fans want to throw their TV out of the window, Steinbrenner is right.

This current decade is the first since the 1910s the Yankees failed to appear in a World Series and first since the 1980s in which they didn’t capture a World Series title. The issue Hal and company currently face revolves around normalcy.

What is normalcy for this club?

As great as the dynasty Yankees were in the 1990s, and as prolific (in their own way) they were in the decade following, the negative side effects are oftentimes not analyzed.

A once rabid fanbase that almost tore down Yankee Stadium for a Don Mattingly October home run is now completely uncomfortable with the idea that a successful season can be anything but a title.

These days, a quieter, more reserved Yankee fan dominates the scene for reasons out of the fanbase’s control (ticket prices, new Yankee Stadium, etc.), yet the mindset that is “championship or bust” remains.

That has to change.

Baseball hasn’t witnessed a back-to-back champion since these very same Yankees (1999 and 2000). Unlike the NFL and the NBA and much like the NHL, MLB’s list of champions is always far more sporadic.

The Yankees are well-aware, as this more appreciated motto has been repeated by the organization over the last several years. It’s not “championship or bust” these days.

“Given all the adversity we faced, with 30 different guys on the DL, the IR rather, just all the transition we faced with guys coming up, guys going down, to win the division for the first time in seven years, to win 110 games, there were a lot of bright spots in the season as a whole,” Steinbrenner proclaimed.

There’s no question the Yankees want to welcome a mindset that features at least one title a decade, but to throw a magnificent season out of the window if a parade down the Canyon of Heroes doesn’t happen is something the franchise has deflected.

George Steinbrenner is gone. No George Missives exist these days. The days of The Boss mixing it up with Mike and the Mad Dog have passed us by.

But it doesn’t mean Hal doesn’t have a little of George in him.

“But in the end, we didn’t get it done,” Hal said.

As long as “championship” is the goal, all is well in Yankee land. The fans, who have changed themselves over the last two decades, must adjust.

This is a new era. Baseball is different. Hal Steinbrenner is right: the 2019 New York Yankees season wasn’t a failure.

“Championship or bust” works when a baseball team collects rings like Michael Jordan. It worked 20 years ago.

It doesn’t work today.


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