Michael Young yearns for taste of postseason
By, EVAN GRANT
Even if he had been so inclined, Michael Young simply couldn't make himself watch the New York Yankees celebrate world championship No. 27 on Wednesday.
As much as he wants to taste the postseason, wants to know what it looks and feels like, there are still higher priorities. Like getting sleep whenever you can with a four-week-old newborn in the house.
So, no, he didn't see old friends Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez do the mid-field dogpile the three of them had talked about once as teammates. He didn't see Teixeira fumble over words to try and express what it felt like to win and didn't see Rodriguez impersonate Ric Flair with repeated yells of "whoo."
While they were still celebrating into Thursday morning, Young was dressing for his first workout in advance of the 2010 season.
"As happy as I was for them, it was truly difficult," Young said. "This year really struck a chord with me. As soon as they clinched the East, I started thinking about things. I thought the three of us were going to play together a long time. The competitor inside me gets really jealous. They have what I want.
"You get to a certain point in your career and all you want to do is win. That's it. You do stuff to establish yourself, you get comfortable with who you are and, after that, there is only one thing left. And that's holding the trophy. It's a culmination of a life-long goal. It's the very top of the mountain."
Young is at that point. He's played in 1,351 games as a major leaguer and never reached the postseason. Only two active players - Randy Winn (1,601) and Mike Sweeney (1,398) - have played in more games with the same futility.
What's even more frustrating is that the Rangers, who have twice rebuilt since Young made his major league debut in the final week of the 2000 season, are once again at the intersection of potential and realization.
They thought they were there in 2001 when they signed Rodriguez and a bunch of vets, only to jettison the plan after the 2003 season. They thought they were there after a surprising 89-win season in 2004. It took the Rangers five seasons and another rebuilding plan that included the trade of Teixeira to get back to this point.
And now there is no guarantee the Rangers will take the next step. There are still holes to fill in the pitching staff and an offensive approach to refine. Those things can happen over time with a young team (like the Rangers) or possibly over a single winter with free-agent dollars invested. The Rangers once again will rely on youth because ownership is in limbo and financially strained.
Young understands the prudence of developing a homegrown core. It's just that he's already been through it (see 2003-2007), and it produced nothing meaningful.
"My organization has had some twists and turns that I didn't expect, but that's never changed my focus," Young said. "Our team is always talking about next year and the following year. You reach a certain point in your career and your patience starts running thin.
"The goal is to be prepared and make sure I'm ready. I'm hungry for winning. I know that winning here would mean even more to me. It takes everything I've got to stay focused on what I really want to accomplish."
Perhaps if the Rangers had stayed as focused over the last decade, they would be there by now instead of once again hoping a crop of young players will all blossom at once.
Never sipped champagne
Since baseball came up with the World Series in 1903, only 12 players have played as many as 2,000 games and never reached the postseason. The top six:
Player Games Ernie Banks* 2,528
Luke Appling* 2,422
Mickey Vernon 2,409
Buddy Bell 2,405
Ron Santo 2,243
Toby Harrah 2,155
*Hall of Famers
Michael Young ranks third on the active list for games played without ever reaching the postseason. The top five:
Player Games Randy Winn 1,601
Mike Sweeney 1,398
Michael Young 1,351
Aubrey Huff 1,322
Adam Dunn 1,290