The injuries, the inability to hit with runners in scoring position, inconsistency in each facet of the game and perceived managerial lapses have all been a part of the 2012 New York Yankees season. You know what? After 110 games, the Bronx Bombers are in first place by five games in the loss column (yes John Sterling in this instance you are right; forget the half game, the loss column is where the records matter). Yet, most of the chatter from some “fans” blasts the Yankees. I say this is a team that should be embraced.
The Yankees were fortunate to build a 10-game lead at its plateau in the American League East while they ransacked teams during a late-May through mid-July stretch of 49 games in which they went 36-13. Your first thought may be that they faced an easy part of the schedule, and you’d be incorrect. Just about every team during that span had a record at or above .500.
Since July 18th the Yankees have hit a rough patch going 7-12. They have lost eight of those games by one run, two games by two runs and the remaining two by five and six runs each. Their run differential over the nineteen games is +8 (89-81). Fans are in an uproar right now as the Yanks’ division lead has been whittled down by a resilient and confident Baltimore Orioles squad that is winning despite being outscored over the entire season by 47 runs (464-511). For reference sake the Yankees are +90 in run differential (540-450). The Bombers have been in at least a tie for first place since June 11. Which team do you want?
Listen folks; forget about the 1998 Yankees and how they won 125 games (including the postseason blitzkrieg). That is a once in a lifetime team, not the norm. OK, maybe twice in a lifetime as the 2001 Seattle Mariners went wild with 116 regular season wins, but got derailed by the Yankees in the ALCS. Anyway, in an extremely tough division where it is still possible that three teams will reach the postseason and all of them could finish above .500, the idea of winning 100 games seems daunting.
The Yankees are currently on pace for about 94 wins. With all the inadequacies mentioned in the beginning of this post, wouldn’t that be quite an accomplishment? Do the Yankees look like a team that would win the World Series right now? Nope, they don’t. But, look around the league. Each team has had their share of problems or is dealing with issues of their own right now.
It’s time to stop blasting this team and begin to embrace them. I’m not suggesting we forgo objectivity here as there are some things to worry about, but look at the reality of the circumstances. They’ve lost both the best closer the game has ever seen in Mariano Rivera and their starting left fielder Brett Gardner for the entire season. One of their top starters, Andy Pettitte and their aging yet still productive third baseman, Alex Rodriguez will have missed over two months should they return when expected from injuries in September. They’ve dealt with CC Sabathia on the DL and Nick Swisher missing extended time.
The Yankees have gotten by with the ups and downs of a lineup that couldn’t hit at all for parts of the beginning of the season, exploded during the stretch where you were ready to crown them champions and have settled back some as of late with some occasional outbursts like last night against Detroit. They have gone through much of the season with problems scoring with runners in scoring position. The pitching staff, from the rotation members to the bullpen, has also suffered with the ebbs and flow of the season. They have been dominant and they have looked awful at times.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi is criticized for every move he makes that goes bad (at least in our eyes) and never lauded when he does something which works. Yes, Girardi is armed with a high payroll, but remember who some of the key players who have led to the success of this season have been so far; Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Jayson Nix, Chris Stewart, David Phelps, Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada, Dewayne Wise and the list goes on. Role players have stepped up when the stars have gone down or needed a rest. No matter what you think, Girardi has done a nice job working in these players when he’s had to.
The stars who have managed to stay on the field have excelled. Robinson Cano is putting up another great season after a slow start. Curtis Granderson has 30 home runs with 52 games left to play. Derek Jeter, who was once again left for dead, leads the American League in hits. What else can we ask for?
Embrace this team. Rally around them. They have not sucked nearly as bad as you’re making it out over the last few weeks. Is it enjoyable to watch them blow a play here and there that could have amounted to a win in a few of those one-run games? Of course it isn’t, but you know what I like? I like the fight the team has shown. I like that they have rallied around each other all season. I like watching them in the dugout. Even when things are rough, these guys don’t look down on their luck. They fight. They showed it Tuesday night when they could have folded up like a tent. I saw it again last night as they refused to lose the lead and pulled away at the end.
Does any of this ensure a World Series Championship? Not at all. But did baseball fans, even those in St. Louis, expect the Cardinals to win the World Series at this point in the season last year. I don’t think so. The Yankees are in a much better position than they were, right?
We don’t know what the future brings. But what we do know and what we see on the field each and every day is a Yankees team that is trying to win no matter how the lineup card is written or who is on the hill. More often than not they will win. Don’t rag on them because they’ve hit a rough patch, instead embrace them for the fight they show day in and day out.
Topics: Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, Andy Pettitte, Baltimore Orioles, Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, Chris Stewart, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Dewayne Wise, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, Joe Girardi, New York Yankees, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Yankees