A heartbreaking blown save and with it, Yankees fans are getting a taste of what life is like without a super reliable closer like Mariano Rivera. However, that is very unfair to Rafael Soriano, who has gone above and beyond expectations. Sure he’s pitched well in the AL East as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, but there’s always been this overwhelming feeling of him imploding. Well, for the first time in a long time, Yankees fans experienced that with a few walk-off wins on the way to a four-game sweep at the hands of… ahem… the Oakland Athletics. OK everyone, please step away from the ledge.
I think Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News said it best on Twitter last night about how many fans think the baseball season is a series of 162, one-game seasons. Here’s the official tweet:
Seems like the panicky Yankees fans think this is the turning point of the season and they will now miss the playoffs. 162 one-game seasons.
— Mark Feinsand (@BloggingBombers) July 23, 2012
Sadly, there is truth to his words. People are always looking for the root cause or start of an issue, and then attempt to blow it out of proportion to show that they have some predictive powers. You know the type, the people who “follow” the team, but don’t watch that much baseball. They add in their two cents when they hear about the A’s sweeping the Yankees, “This is a new low for the team, they’re getting too old and don’t have the pitching.” It’s during this time you begin seeing, suddenly, “fans” begin questioning their allegiance to the team and the outcome of the 2012 season.
Sure, there are things to be worried about, but it’s not any different than other teams’ issues. For instance, the Yankees bullpen has been ridiculously good all season long, even without Rivera since May and losing David Robertson for a while. However, like most things in life, there’s a yin and yang. No one can be perfect night in, night out, but sadly in sports many people expect that and when it doesn’t happen, they go on a rampage.
It’s during these times we need to look at the positives, but not gloss over the negatives. While the bullpen gave up some games this weekend, they’re still good and will help lead the team into the playoffs. Soriano has only blown his second save of the year while recording 24 in the meantime. Despite giving up a bloop single and a steal to Coco Crisp, Robertson looked good yesterday in the eighth. Also, reinforcements are on the way. Joba Chamberlain is pitching well on his road to recovery with many reports showing he’s hitting mid-to-upper 90′s with his fastball. He’ll likely take Cody Eppley‘s spot, who has pitched well above what was expected of him. However, fans will be quick to vilify him and want to throw him back down to AAA because he was the last one on the mound in two walk-off victories this weekend.
Let’s also not forget the Yankees have a bit of a cushion and it’s during these times they are rewarded for faltering a bit. Currently, they’re six games up on the Baltimore Orioles and 8.5 ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays. Every team has hiccups, it’s what makes the season interesting to watch unfold. There’s two months left before the playoffs, which includes a fascinating trade deadline. The team will likely try to add an outfield piece with the news of Brett Gardner‘s elbow.
The Yankees are a playoff team, they have good pitching, great hitting, and good defense, all of which many other teams can’t boast. So, as a fanbase, a contingent of us need to step away from the ledge, take a deep breath, and root for the team to sweep the Seattle Mariners.