Column: The last one
The New York Yankees went on a 14-season playoff drought after they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1981 World Series. The Bronx Bombers snapped that drought in 1995 when the team finally returned to the postseason. Something else happened in 1995 that would change Yankees history forever: the birth of the "Core Four."
Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada who we know as the legendary "Core Four," all made their major league debuts as Yankees. Besides Pettitte's few seasons in Houston, the "Core Four" has been together through it all. Each of these players were key factors in the late 1990's Yankees dynasty that won four World Series in five years from 1996-2000. With five World Series championships and 16 playoff berths in 18 years, the "Core Four" remains the best and most iconic group in Major League Baseball.
Pettitte made 438 career starts and won 219 games as a Yankee, while Posada had 7,150 plate appearances in the regular season as well as 492 in the post season. You can't forget about Mo, the greatest closer in the history of baseball. I'll be telling my grandkids one day that I'll never forget where I was when Rivera broke down on the mound as both Jeter and Pettitte escorted him off the field in his final home game. Every baseball fan shed a few tears when reality set in that he was gone for good. History was changed forever.
As Jeter walked to the mound to get Mo, I knew I would completely lose it when Jeter retired. After he signed the one-year contract with the Yankees, in the back of my mind I knew it was over, but I managed to convince myself he would be back again for a few more years. Once the announcement came out that Jeter would officially be retiring after the 2014 baseball season the mourning set in. Baseball hadn't even started and I was choked up thinking about it.
We grew up with the "Core Four." We had Jeter, Mo, Bernie Williams, Alfonso Soriano and Posada to name a few. They were the Yankees we all knew and loved. They were the players that got me into loving sports, and now it's coming to an end. The Yankees as we know it will be forever a memory as Derek Jeter plays his last game this season.
Although players come and go and retire after every season, you can't help but wonder if the Yankees will go back into their playoff-less slump like before the "Core Four" arrived. This particular group put the Yankees on the map and gave the Bronx Bombers part of the reputation they have today.
Like fans in the past were able to talk about Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, after this 2014 season we can tell stories of the legendary "Core Four." It's too early to tell if the Yankees will sink or float, but they sure have big shoes to fill.
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