The Yankees playoffs picture sweeps past Wednesday and on to Friday and Fenway Park. To make a statement, the team should leave their equipment in the visitor’s locker room today.
The Yankees finish for the 2018 season reminds of the straight-A student who gets a B+ on his Biology test, and his parents want to know why he didn’t ace the test. Except for the fact that his grade was the third highest (100 wins) of the 30 students in his class. Not bad, considering.
And so it is that the Yankees can be excused for looking past the Oakland A’s, the team representing their ticket to the real playoffs on Wednesday. Aaron Boone can be forgiven too for pulling Luis Severino from his scheduled start in the Yankees final game today in Boston, even if it means he too is looking beyond the A’s.
And after all the hush-hush discussion among the Yankees brain trust, the cat is pretty much out of the bag now, and Severino will be on the mound Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium. This may be a gamble considering last year’s stumble by Severino against the Twins, but it’s the right move if the team means to take an aggressive stance with only one goal in mind when play begins – the World Series and a chance to notch their 28th World Championship.
No doubt, Severino will be on a short leash, but that’s true with any of the boatloads of pitchers the Yankees will carry for Wednesday’s game, a true old-fashioned all hands on deck contest between two teams with everything to lose.
Move the scenario out further and the big picture comes into focus with J.A. Happ on tap to start games one and five against the Red Sox against Chris Sale, who has been babied and wrapped in a blanket of hope by Red Sox fans, who can only hope the slate is wiped clean from successive unimpressive starts leading into the playoffs.
That leaves Masahiro Tanaka matched against David Price in Game Two, with a chance for the team to once again reach inside the head of Price, who can’t seem to get anyone out when he faces the Yankees time and time again.
Some would say the Oakland A’s are playing with house money after surprising everyone in baseball except miracle-maker Billy Beane, a man who should be at the top of the radar for the New York Mets as their new general manager if they can convince Beane to meet the challenge of a big-market team.
The house money thing is, however, the reason the A’s will lose to the Yankees, a team the A’s don’t quite measure up to no matter which stats you want to employ. Not to mention the fact the A’s will be subject to a crescendo of noise from fans at Yankee Stadium, a scene far removed from the cavernous empty tiers in their home ballpark.
Remarkably, it’s the Red Sox who have more to deal with than the Yankees this week. A five-day layoff after playing almost every day for six months is not a good thing, and Alex Cora will have his hands full trying to keep his team focused and interested, waiting and waiting for Friday to come.
Yankee haters, go ahead and say it. This writer, like all fans of the team, is arrogant and surly. Except that in this case, a B+ is not good enough and the 25 players in the Yankees clubhouse know it. This Yankees team, even with 100 wins, is better than they’ve played all year. You may call it arrogance if you wish, but I choose to call it confidence.
And that’s why the Rob Cucuzzo, the Yankees Equipment Manager, should be instructed to leave clean uniforms in each visiting clubhouse locker when the Yankees depart Fenway later this afternoon.
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