In the end, Giancarlo Stanton was far from the only reason the Yankees failed miserably in this ALDS against the Red Sox, but he is the only one making a zillion dollars, coming off an MVP, 59-home run season, and acquired theoretically as something of a final piece to a championship puzzle.
So he is going to have to wear it all winter and into next season, as the most obvious target for fan frustration. And rightly so.
In some ways Stanton is the new Alex Rodriguez from those Yankees-Red Sox wars of the past, the hired-gun superstar who came up small when it counted most -- unable to get a clutch hit throughout this series, despite his many opportunities.
Yet I would argue the comparison is faulty, in that A-Rod was a much more complete hitter who simply couldn't get out of his own head for years in the post-season.
Meanwhile, under careful observation in his first season in New York, Stanton has proven to be more flawed than expected, mostly a one-dimensional mistake-hitter who has poor recognition of breaking stuff and chases way too often outside the strike zone.
Those flaws were all on display in this series, as Stanton hit .222 without an extra-base hit or a walk, while striking out six times -- most notably in the ninth inning of Game 4 Tuesday night to throw a life preserver of sorts to a drowning Craig Kimbrel.
Yes, after Rick Porcello and other Red Sox relievers, including Chris Sale, had shut down the Yankees, suddenly there was life and noise at the Stadium in the ninth as Kimbrel walked Aaron Judge and gave up a single to Didi Gregorius.
Up came Stanton and the crowd roared, wanting to believe this would be his breakout moment. Instead he was badly overmatched, taking a first-pitch slider for a strike and then flailing at two more in the dirt -- just an awful at-bat that gave Kimbrel enough room to survive in the 4-3 win that sent the Sox on to the ALCS against the Astros.
Somewhere in the Stadium, as he watched that at-bat, Brian Cashman had to be seeing the next nine years, or the length of Stanton's huge contract, flash before his eyes.
After all, as bad as A-Rod was in his first few Octobers as a Yankee, it seemed inevitable that eventually he would bust loose, as he finally did in 2009, practically carrying that team offensively to a championship.
But it's hard to forecast that type of post-season success for Stanton, even though he will always put up big home-run numbers, and that makes for quite a dilemma.
Nine years is an awful long time, and oh by the way, Stanton also has a full no-trade clause, which is why he's here in the Bronx, having given Marlins' owner Derek Jeter so few options in terms of trading him.
The Yankees saw the deal as a gift of sorts, but as it turned out, they not only would have been better off signing free agent J.D. Martinez, but now it appears they traded for the wrong Marlin, considering that Christian Yelich had an MVP season for the Brewers.
So you can bet Cashman will at least make a call to the Dodgers, the one other team Stanton would surely agree to play for, considering that he grew up in the LA area and still calls it home.
But it's hard to envision Dodgers GM Andrew Friedman taking on the more than $200 million remaining on Stanton's contract, even if the Yankees would be willing to give him away so they could spend that money on Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and more in this free-agent market.
The Yankees are going to spend anyway, you can count on that, after staying under the luxury tax threshold this season to re-set their tax rate, and finishing in such disappointing fashion.
And, in truth, their priority should be pitching, especially now that Luis Severino has proven he can't be counted on as a No. 1 starter. There is no slam-dunk ace in the market, in part because 30-year-old Clayton Kershaw is too injury-prone to invest in long-term, and probably won't opt out of the final two years and $70 million of his deal with the Dodgers.
The Yankees could sign a Dallas Keuchel or a Patrick Corbin, but they'd still be looking for that sure thing Severino was supposed to be for them.
Indeed, a second straight disappointing October for the 24-year-old righthander is surely the biggest takeaway for the Yankee brass, as it pivots quickly in the days ahead and looks to 2019.
Maybe Severino's second-half swoon will prove to be something of a hangover from his huge jump in innings in 2017, and he'll yet prove to be the shutdown ace he looked like in 2017, October notwithstanding, and the first half in 2018.
Either way, as Brett Gardner said in a quiet clubhouse after the loss, "This is still an exciting time for this team, with so much young talent."
Hard to argue with that, yet Stanton's arrival was supposed to ensure that their championship future, which began with that surprise run last October, moved closer to reality in 2018.
Instead it merely raised significant questions, right down to that last strikeout on Tuesday night, when last year's NL MVP looked like the last guy the Yankees wanted to see up in that spot.
Nine more years.