If you’re looking for the three-month low point of the Yankees in 2013, this might be it. Yes, they traded for Alfonso Soriano in July, got some players off the disabled list in August, and made a bit of a playoff run in September, but those minor bright spots become hard to notice in the bigger picture. This three-month period started just as the Yankees fell to four games out of first place, and it ended with the opening of the Alex Rodriguez appeal hearing. It’s a three-month stretch largely defined by the idea of coming up short. There were good moments — including the most memorable on-the-field moment of the year — but these months were also heavily defined by Rodriguez, Biogenesis, and ultimately by the Yankees elimination from playoff contention.
Five minutes of fame for Dr. Michael Gross
This was the month when the Yankees traded for Alfonso Soriano, and when Derek Jeter returned from the disabled list to homer on the first pitch he saw. But this was also a month when the Alex Rodriguez frenzy was quickly reaching its boiling point, with one of the most bizarre twists coming from a surprise radio appearance by a doctor named Michael Gross, who went on WFAN and declared that Rodriguez’s quad — which had caused the setback that kept him on the DL longer than expected — was perfectly fine, before later acknowledging he’d never actually examined the quad beyond looking at an MRI. This happened on July 24, just two days after Ryan Braun received and accepted his Biogenesis suspension.
Worth mentioning: Derek Jeter’s return, injury, re-return, new injury; Mariano Rivera’s all-star game sendoff; Alfonso Soriano’s return to the Yankees; Hideki Matsui’s official retirement; Alex Rodriguez’s rehab assignment; The rocking chair of broken bats; HOPE Week
Alex Rodriguez hit by Ryan Dempster
It’s easy to remember the hit by pitch, when Ryan Dempster decided to send a message but instead made Alex Rodriguez into the least likely rallying point in baseball. That inside fastball seemed to spark Rodriguez and the rest of the Yankees. For a while, it seemed to be the moment that just might spur the Yankees into the playoffs. It’s easy forget, though, that on that very same day Brian Cashman spoke pregame about being unwilling to have a normal conversation with Rodriguez out of fear that such a conversation might become “distorted” in the legal process. The Rodriguez’s saga was the Yankees most significant ongoing storyline of the year, and no day summed up the bizarre back-and-forth better than August 18.
Worth mentioning: A-Rod suspended and almost immediately returning to the lineup; Francisco Cervelli’s suspension; Curtis Granderson’s return; Derek Jeter’s return (again) and injury (again); Ivan Nova’s dominance; Ichiro Suzuki’s 4,000th career hit; Mark Reynolds playing second base; Rodriguez accused to leaking Biogenesis names to the media
Mariano Rivera’s emotional farewell
There were a lot of negative moments in the final month of the regular season, but none of those can eclipse Mariano Rivera’s final moments on the mound at Yankee Stadium. No need to rehash the details here, I’ll only say that it was easily the most memorable moment of the year, perhaps in all of baseball. “I was bombarded with emotions and feelings that I couldn’t describe,” Rivera said. “Everything hit at that time. I knew that that was the last time, period. I never felt something like that before.” I’d never seen something like it before, and I can’t imagine that I ever will again. If anything could overshadow the injuries and the drama of the 2013 season, it was the remarkable way that the game’s most remarkable closer walked away.
Worth mentioning: Start of the Alex Rodriguez appeal hearing; Andy Pettitte’s complete-game finale; Derek Jeter making one last trip to the disabled list; the trade for Brendan Ryan; CC Sabathia’a hamstring injury; That Girardi/Showalter argument in Baltimore; Playoff elimination
Associated Press photo