In an annual exercise of autumn's turn toward winter, the Yankees opened the doors one final time, inviting players to collect their belongings before scattering to the offseason breezes.
But New York had just hosted one of the biggest parties of the year in the Yankees' honor, and the triumphant Bombers were recuperating Saturday morning.
Over a four-hour access period, not a single Yankees player or coach opted to appear in the Bronx. Declining to set their alarms to rise and shine for one morning probably provided a welcome respite for the Yankees, whose week has been a non-stop whirlwind.
As Derek Jeter said on Friday, the parade provided a chance to slow everything down and savor it.
"You get a chance to reflect," Jeter said, "to look at everybody together as one group. We have a lot of memories together. This is a day to celebrate and enjoy it."
From the moment on Wednesday night that Robinson Cano fielded a Shane Victorino ground ball and threw it to Mark Teixeira, ending the mission for a 27th World Series championship, the Yankees have unabashedly owned the city of New York. They've also strutted around as such.
Jeter, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte swapped barbs with David Letterman. Joba Chamberlain plopped on Jimmy Fallon's couch. The Yankees hit the hottest nightclubs in town and were feted by more than a million confetti-tossing fans, rejoicing in the end of the season.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Teixeira said on Friday. "I just have to keep reminding myself that we don't have another series to go. This is it."
Like it or not, the ride had to come to an end sometime, and the Yankees' clubhouse had all the appearances of a party the morning after. Remnants of the plastic covering from Wednesday's champagne celebration were still tacked to the ceiling, and on the field, assorted Yankees employees were slogging through a leisurely game of soft-toss baseball.
Those memories that Jeter talked about, the spoils of a championship season that was more like a roller-coaster ride, were strewn about the room in various lockers. Players still needed to collect family photos and the strewn championship hats worn in the on-field celebration on Wednesday, when Commissioner Bud Selig presented the Yankees with the trophy they so badly thirsted for.
And then, as Joe Girardi was saying outside City Hall, "The season really ends."
"You're playing every day, you're going to work every day, and then it just stops," Girardi continued. "There's no wind-down period. Some of the guys, we probably won't see next year. But in 10 years, we'll have a reunion and we'll be back together again. You don't realize how quickly that comes."
Commemorative baseballs given out by Mariano Rivera after his 500th career save in June still sat on the top shelf of lockers, lording over stacks of unanswered fan mail. A few players stashed souvenir bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne from the World Series, with Cano stacking five of the empty green bottles as keepsakes of his first Fall Classic.
Posada's shin guards lay in an unzipped bag, still caked with dirt from his work behind the plate in Game 6. Next to it lay a three-ring binder emblazoned with the Phillies logo and Posada's name, stuffed with scouting reports on the likes of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard that can now be safely discarded. As Posada said on Friday, his staff will change in 2010, a fact of life in baseball today.
"It's tough to keep 25 guys the same," Posada said. "Hopefully it's all for the better of the team."
Jeter will eventually send for his Roberto Clemente Award, still serving as a paperweight on a cubby shelf. A.J. Burnett will want his children's crayon sketches of dinosaurs decorating his locker. Chamberlain might opt to pick up the Trenton Thunder bobblehead with his likeness, and CC Sabathia would almost certainly have someone ship the 13 pairs of sneakers clogging up the floor by his locker.
Somewhere in all this mess lay the sweat of 103 regular-season victories, plus 11 more in the postseason. Nick Swisher's teammate photo collage, snipped from Yankees gameday programs and newspaper back pages, remained affixed to his locker.
The ceramic gnome he rescued from a hallway stood guard as a good-luck charm, as did a stuffed rattlesnake -- a souvenir of the Bombers' May trip to Arlington. They paled in comparison to the glittering ring Swisher will be issued next April.
"I'm a champion," Swisher said, "and you can never take that away."
Perhaps the most telling sign of the season's end was the pocket schedule held in place on Johnny Damon's locker by a slim piece of Scotch tape. Through each week of the season, every month on the calendar, Damon had dragged a blue Sharpie marker to cross out the dates until there was nothing left.
After 162 games together in the regular season and 15 more in the postseason, these Yankees are finally done. The respite will be all too brief until the Yankees must reconvene to defend their World Series title, calling out to the rest of the league what the players all chose to ignore on Saturday: "Come and get it."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.