"This is the year the Yankees get old."
I said it confidently, and my stare was unwavering. But the face looking back at me wasn't upset; it wasn't annoyed; it wasn't even disagreeable. It was just disappointed.
"This sounds familiar," he said.
"No, no, wait, hear me out."
"We had this conversation last March. We had it the March before that. Do we really need to have it again?" He wasn't even taunting me; he truly sounded tired of the conversation, maybe even a little bit sad.
"But you and I both know that the Yankees can lose all the free agents they want, and they'll just get more." This sounded like a tired recitation, and it was starting to annoy me.
"But it's not just that. Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes and Alex Rodriguez are all hurt to start the season. That's seven members of their lineup from last year - gone. Just gone. This lineup is Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, and then fine, they brought in Kevin Youkilis. But that's it." I stopped and smiled, proud of myself. This year was different. What kind of rebuttal could he have for that?
"But look, they brought in washed-up bit players like Travis Hafner and Juan Rivera. You know if your Orioles did that, those players would flop and find themselves out of the league. But when the Yankees do that, it works. These guys crank out one last career year. This isn't just the team that got decent seasons out of Ibanez and Ichiro last year -- two years ago, they got a productive year out of Freddy Garcia, for Christ's sake."
I could feel my blood pressure rising.
"Look, this isn't a couple of roleplayers. On top of all the injuries I just told you about, look how many of these guys are over 38. Jeter and Ichiro, sure, but don't forget about Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda - that's two of their top three starters! And Ivan Nova is just terrible!"
His eyes bore into me with a sudden intensity, maybe even a hint of fear.
"Look, if you can't stay calm, this conversation is going to be over. Remember all the progress you made. You almost had me convinced last season that we wouldn't be having this conversation this year."
A switch flipped inside of me.
"Can't you see that this team is basically Cano and CC Sabathia right now? They're hurt, they're old, there's just ... there's no way they're still the Yankees of old. There's no way they win more than 82 games. This is the year the Yankees get old!"
He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. He looked tired and frustrated.
"Have you been reading your PECOTA like we talked about? 88 wins and first place in the AL East. That's based on hard numbers. You're just talking about a gut feeling here."
I gave up on having a rational conversation with this man. I tried to jump up and suddenly remembered the restraints on my arms. The doctor shook his head.
"It's obvious that we haven't gotten nearly as far as I thought. You're obviously going to be here for quite a while longer."
I felt hands on my shoulders, and suddenly there was a needle in my arm and some pills in my mouth. I wanted to scream:
This isn't the same as those other times!
We're talking about way more injuries and way more aging!
I swallowed the pills, but the words wouldn't form on my tongue. The doctor's eyes tracked mine carefully, and I distantly heard him asking me if I'd ever learn. I felt the darkness envelop me like an old friend. The words bounced around in my head like a Derek Jeter ground ball squibbling past a shortstop.
This is the year the Yankees get old. This is the year the Yankees get old. This is the year the Yankees get old...