“My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’”
Things felt different when the Yankees geared up for their Wild Card showdown with Houston last October. For the first time, certainly in my lifetime but maybe-also-probably ever, it felt surprising that the Yankees were in the postseason at all. They were the fourth or fifth best team in the division on paper. They were too old, too injury-prone, too damn volatile. The bottom was supposed to have dropped out several times over. Instead, they defied both age and projection. Mark Teixeira led an age-35 renaissance, topping 30 homers and turning in his most productive season since 2012. Newcomer Didi Gregorius was a surprising 3-win upgrade at shortstop over the newly-retired Derek Jeter. They were able to mask an injury-littered starting rotation in which no one made 30 starts or pitched more than 170 innings with a devastating bullpen fronted by Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Perhaps more astounding than all of that combined, a 39-year-old Alex Rodriguez returned to baseball after a year’s suspension and played as one of the 20 best hitters in the American League, transforming himself into a cult hero in the process. A box of chocolates indeed.
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