The Yankees West Coast swing can not have come at a better time. Out of harm’s way from the New York media, it’s time to retreat and regroup.
The Yankees spent the bulk of their day on the Fourth Of July holiday on a six-hour flight to Seattle, where they will play a series against the upstart Mariners.
With ample time to reflect, The Yankees have an opportunity to gaze up at Mt. Ranier, wondering how they can scale the mountain of disappointment their season has been, and their current fourth-place position in the AL East standings.
With media outlets scaling down expenses, the Yankees “traveling party” is likely reduced to a few, and with games not finishing until after midnight, all but a few Yankee loyalists will view what occurs on the field.
Yankees: Inhale Deeply, Then Exhale
That doesn’t mean, of course, that Gleyber Torres awoke this morning smelling the clean air in Washington, rejuvenated and ready to be the Gleyber Torres we all know he can be.
Nor does it mean that Gerrit Cole is ready to move beyond his two recent hiccup starts and has figured out a way to get batters out without the sticky stuff.
Or, that Aaron Boone has taken notice of the Yankees’ last game against the Mets, a win in which the team picked up on Joe Torre‘s theme that small things lead to big things, and he has spoken to his coaches about emphasizing that new style of play moving forward.
Or, that Aroldis Chapman has met a hurdle, not a wall, and is ready to resume his stature as one of the best closers in the league, a point he must re-attain if the Yankees are going anywhere in the second half.
Yankees: The Standings Don’t Matter
Somewhere, I saw today that if the Red Sox maintain their current won-lost record in the second half, the Yankees need to go 60-19 to catch them to win the AL East.
I won’t argue with the math because if it’s off by a couple of games – so what?
But the thought draws me back to the 2019 season and the difference between the Mets’ first half and the second half when they missed the playoffs by a hair – but still – it formed the catalyst and winning formula for their team today.
With the Yankees this year, it’s all mental and not physical.
Oh, we can talk about the injuries to players like Aaron Hicks, Luis Severino, Corey Kluber, Clarke Schmidt, and so on – but the crux of the matter is still the players who occupy a locker in the Yankees’ clubhouse.
So, while the mantra “we are better than this” is true, nothing will change until the Yankees get their heads together.
I’d be a millionaire with dugout seats to every game if I had the answer how as to make that happen, but I do know this.
Aaron Boone Needs To Set The Tone
Aaron Boone needs to be more of a force in pulling his team together, which doesn’t mean calling a meeting.
It means coming up with “sound bites” to replace the old and worn “we’re close and working hard” ones he has made all year.
Vociferously congratulating Rougned Odor for his ingenuity to act on his own with a bunt single the other day, turning the lineup over to Gio Urshela to hit an “excuse me” three-run home run is but one example.
Yes, it’s physical, and the Yankees need production too, but players’ mental ability and willingness to go that extra step to earn a win that Boone should be stressing.
Boone is not doing that, and indeed, if he keeps it up, he deserves to be fired.
Yankees Moving To The All-Star Break
And so, with a three-game set in Seattle that is followed by a trip to Houston to close out the traditional first-half of the season before the All-Star break next week, the Yankees have an opportunity to regroup from a mental standpoint.
The hits and wins will come, but the Yankees are in neutral if the current (and this has nothing to do with what Brian Cahman may or may not do at the deadline) mentality persists.
Let’s see what happens when they breathe the fresh air in Seattle, beginning tonight when Jameson Taillon (3-4, 5.43) squares off again former Yankees’ prospect and equally unimpressive (5-7, 5.88) Justus Sheffield.
Ending the first half on a high note, no matter what the Red Sox and Rays do, is imperative…and it begins tonight.
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Bruce Chester Stop it’s over the fat lady sang long ago so stop dreaming of visions of grandeur. They are 10.5 games behind the dreaded Red Sox who appear to be a WS strong contender. Me I am anxious for Football to start
Chuck Tanner Yeah and I’ll be asleep well before they muck it up
Peter Miller Only problem is they typically struggle on west coast trips no matter how good they are.
Albert Dumont Nothing better than seeing the Yankees play like the Yankees, and seeing them dismantle the Mariners and I live in Seattle. If you notice the fans at these games you will see many more Yankee fans in Seattle than Mariner fans.