The Derek Jeter farewell tour is nice, but it's also serving as a distraction for a large concern in the Bronx: The Yankees have now missed the postseason for a second straight season. Excluding the 1994 season, which had no playoffs due to a strike, that hasn't happened since 1992-1993. Manager Joe Girardi made sure to point out the team's failure in a locker-room meeting before Jeter's last game in Yankee Stadium Thursday.

Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York say they talked to "more than a half-dozen" Yankees about Girardi's talk:

One source described Girardi as "angry," and said he even took a brief timeout to allow the players, led by CC Sabathia, to present Jeter with the original painting of The New Yorker's Sept. 8 cover depicting the shortstop waving goodbye, and an expensive watch, before returning to Part Two of his tirade.

"It was a speech the likes of which I've never heard him give before," said the source, who was in the room during the meeting. "It's something he probably should have said back in spring training."

Girardi confirmed the incident took place — he preferred to describe it as "a team meeting" — but refused to supply any details of what he said to the team or if any particular players were singled out.

"I'm not going to go into what I talked about," Girardi said. "Write whatever you want."

Girardi denied the awkward Jeter gift-giving intermission, and said he was more angry than disappointed. But after the Jeter chapter finally closes, here are the new Yankees talking points: the team's struggle to make it out of the regular season and, oh yeah, Alex Rodriguez's return.

[ESPN New York]

Photo: AP