Yankees fans had a common objection to yesterday’s story titled, “Crawling From The Wreckage” with comments asking, How can a team’s season be considered a wreck after winning 100 games? Gimme a sec, I’ll explain.
Yankees fans may think otherwise, but I wasn’t kidding yesterday when I wrote a piece titled, Yankees: Crawling From The Wreckage (Part One) – Starting Pitching. The article was published on some Yankees Facebook Groups, and surprisingly at least to me, it drew a number of comments from readers similar to this one:
Others followed a similar vein, and it got me to thinking. Has the Yankees fan base changed, and if it has, has the change passed me completely by?
See, here’s my problem. I don’t recall George Steinbrenner or Derek Jeter ever being satisfied with a second-place division finish and being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. And I also don’t recall a Yankees team that was ever built to accomplish that meager goal. Instead, I can only remember the team and their statements during the offseason and Spring Training, when it was clear the team had its eye on a 28th World Championship, and last season’s “almost” was merely a tease.
I know the numbers. The Yankees finished with a better record than any National League team, including the two who fight for the right to play in the World Series. But I also know the Yankees have won 100 or more games in a season (count ’em) 20 times, so no one can say 2018 is an aberration. In all but two of those 100-win seasons, the team finished in first place (1954 & 2018), making it the World Series.
How can the 2018 season be judged successful, unless there are Yankees fans who want to rationalize it all by the saying the team just happened to run into a buzzsaw – the Boston Red Sox. But again, does it bear reminding that the Yankees played the Red Sox 19 times during the regular season, having ample opportunities to crush their rivals. They didn’t.
We can also wonder, well what if the Yankees and Red Sox were matched up five more times in an ALDS series, would the outcome be any different. Don’t think so, and the Sox would win four out of five of those series – because they are a better team than the Yankees in 2018.
I watched along with many of you, and as the series unfolded I found myself asking, “How can this be happening?” But upon reflection, even if it’s too close to the fire, the reasons became clear. Thus, the prompt to write the series, beginning with an analysis of the team’s pitching staff yesterday.
The Houston Astros are a juggernaut the Yankees will need to model their team around for the 2019 season. The duo of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole is unmatchable, as the Red Sox are likely to discover. The Astros are balanced, and they never stop coming at you. Much like the Bombers, they hit home runs too. The Astros have hit home runs in 12 consecutive postseason games dating back to the 2017 postseason. But they’ll also scrape for a run when they need it.
The team, this season, fell short and they deserved their fate. For that reason, changes are coming. Hal Steinbrenner may not have the public vigor and bravado of his dad, but rest assured, he will not be sending congratulatory notes to his players, or anyone else wearing a uniform, on a fine season any time soon.
How soon we forget. Here’s a video of The Boss just before he passed in 2010 in an interview conducted by Roy Firestone. Did I miss something, or are these the same Yankees still playing baseball?
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