Talk all day long about the 2013 replacement players in pinstripes.  Talk about general manager Brian Cashman taking chances.  Talk about the starting pitching being good enough in spots.  Talk about whatever you'd like as the main reason for the Yankees' demise not quite happening just yet like some thought.  The real talk is the leadership and presence of Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte.  As long as those three are in the Bronx, it starts and ends with that.

One of the big reasons why the Yankees are where they are is because guys like Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner get into the clubhouse and don't want to fail in front of Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, and now in front of Derek Jeter, who is the captain and back in the dugout watching games (which you know drives him crazy).  These guys are Yankees.  They are core Yankees.  Hall of Fame Yankees.  And they have rings.  These three make everyone better from just being there, talking to players and having a presence that rubs off on others.  Rivera, even more than that, is dominating at age 43.  Players marvel at that and respect him.  Think Michael Jordan making the 1990's Chicago Bulls six-time champions.  It is the same thing.

Obviously, these three legends are not 30 anymore and in their absolute prime (Rivera might be challenging that), but them being around the team and playing at a high enough level alone makes the Yankees' demise a tad premature.  When Mo, DJ and Pettitte are officially gone and their skills completely diminished on a baseball field, however, it will be one scary future in the Bronx.

By:  Mike Lindsley, "Mid-Day with Mike," 1-4, Yankees pre/post game host on 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio.  Follow him on Twitter @MikeLSports.

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