NEW YORK -- After hoisting a World Series championship flag to mark their first season at the new Yankee Stadium, the Yankees created a tough act for themselves to follow in 2010, though that did nothing to diminish the usual lofty expectations.
In the end, the Yankees fell two victories short of making it back to the Fall Classic for a second successive year, their run to a title cut short when their pitching faltered in the American League Championship Series against the Rangers.
"It just didn't happen for us," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "A lot of people picked us and Philadelphia before the postseason, but unless you bring your best ball, both of us are sitting home. A lot of people didn't expect that."
So while the No. 28 on manager Joe Girardi's back thus will remain unchanged when the team takes the field in 2011, there were plenty of positive developments for the Yankees this year, ending with 95 wins and bringing home the AL Wild Card.
Boasting three Gold Glove winners in Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter, the Yankees supported their pitchers with a Major League-best .988 fielding percentage.
They also had five pitchers with double digits in victories, led by CC Sabathia (21) and Phil Hughes (18), and paced the Majors with 48 come-from-behind victories, including seven by three or more runs.
And while the year ended without another World Series game in the Bronx, the new Yankee Stadium played host to many memorable events even without the Yankees on the diamond, including boxing, football and concerts.
"Overall, I think it was a terrific season, and I think there were a lot of enjoyable moments," Cashman said. "But at the same time, when it comes crashing down, it crashes. And it's a thud.
"You try to motivate yourself as you move forward, because you don't like the feeling at all when you watch people play for something you worked so hard to get to."
Here are the Yankees' top five storylines of 2010:
5. Robinson Cano breaks out, chases his MVP dreams
The Yankees took a chance this spring, believing Cano would be ready to step into the No. 5 spot in the batting order. Their faith was rewarded with a season that injected Cano into the MVP discussion, as the 28-year-old was a prime force in powering New York to the playoffs, both offensively and defensively. Cano hit .319 with a career-high 29 homers and 109 RBIs, stroking 200 hits and winning his second career AL Silver Slugger Award. Girardi touted Cano's impact as being MVP-worthy, and though he finished behind Texas' Josh Hamilton and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, Cano's breakout campaign suggests this won't be his last push for the coveted award.
4. A-Rod becomes baseball's youngest to 600 homers
It was essentially a lock that Alex Rodriguez would become the youngest member of baseball's 600 home run club, though it didn't come easily. After a wait of 46 at-bats, Rodriguez finally connected with the milestone homer on Aug. 4, slugging a two-run shot off the Blue Jays' Shaun Marcum at Yankee Stadium -- three years to the date of his 500th. Rodriguez called it "definitely a special number" and said he would "treasure it for a long, long time." Rodriguez finished the year with 613 homers and will open 2011 taking aim next at former teammate Ken Griffey, Jr. (630) on baseball's all-time list.
3. The Yankees miss out on Cliff Lee ... twice
Time will tell how the Yankees' inability to bring in Lee will affect the franchise, as the highly-sought lefty turned down more dollars and years to sign with the Phillies. But the Yankees were willing to worry about 2016 and '17 later just to make sure Lee would be in their uniform for '11, and they would have loved it in '10 too. It almost happened on July 6, as the Yankees were working toward a deal in principle to acquire Lee from the Mariners in exchange for catcher Jesus Montero, second baseman David Adams and pitcher Zach McAllister. Instead, the deal crumbled and Lee went to the Rangers in a six-player trade. He'd later add insult to injury by firing a two-hit shutout against the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS.
2. Iconic shortstop Derek Jeter and the Yankees 'get messy'
Realistically, everyone in baseball expected Jeter and the Yankees to continue what has been a long and productive relationship for both sides. But for perhaps the first time, the Yankees captain voiced anger at the organization in December for how public the negotiations of a new $51 million contract had become. Hal Steinbrenner was correct when he said the discussions could "get messy," and while Jeter would later grin and call the Yankees "one big happy family," it was clear he wished his talks had gone as smoothly as the new two-year deal for Mariano Rivera. Promising to bounce back after a career-low .270 average in 2010 and chase his 3,000th hit early next year, Jeter's new deal could go through '14. If there is another negotiation, Jeter vows, "I promise you won't hear about that one."
1. The Yankees mourn the passing of 'The Boss,' George M. Steinbrenner
Without question, the most momentous event for the Yankees in 2010 was the death of their longtime principal owner, who passed away on July 13 at age 80. Steinbrenner restored the Yankees to dominance after his 1973 purchase of the club, presiding over seven World Series titles and becoming one of the game's best known personalities. His demanding management style earned him the nickname "The Boss," but Steinbrenner also enjoyed a philanthropic side that was acted upon without fanfare, benefiting many. In Steinbrenner's honor, the Yankees wore commemorative patches over their hearts for the remainder of the season, as well as sporting uniform tributes to longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard and former manager/catcher Ralph Houk.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.