Yankees 2017: All Signs Point Towards A Cohesive Winning Formula

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees have enjoyed a winning spring season. And it’s true that all those wins count for naught. But what does count is the way the team is winning those games.

The Yankees, since the departure of the Core Four – sorry – make it Core Five counting the indispensable Bernie Williams, have lacked the cohesiveness that is so decisive in team sports it is often overlooked as a factor in putting together a winning formula.

And not so much with the Chicago Cubs last year because they had to endure all the pressure and hype of “The Curse” and all that, but more so with the Cleveland Indians, we saw a team playing together and having fun enjoying a boy’s game in the sun.

The cohesiveness that drives a unit is not something you can feel and touch.

Terry Francona found that elusive mix that translates into winning by osmosis, wherein a team gels together and contributions come from everywhere. Joe Girardi has the makings of a Yankees team that appears on the verge of doing the same thing in 2017.

And you can look at today’s win against the Blue Jays as a microcosm of what I am speaking about. The Yankees had no business winning this game. And although their starter, Adam Warren, gave up four runs almost right out of the box, the team hung in there with Greg Bird getting a run back with a solo homer and Austin Romine driving in another ensuring that game never got away.

And then in the decisive ninth inning trailing by one, Toronto imploded making two infield errors putting runners in scoring position. I was not watching the YES feed at the time. Instead, I was following the game with 30-second updates on my laptop. And somehow, I just knew that the Yankees not only had a chance to win this game but that they would win it.


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Fittingly, the unlikeliest of heroes, Pete Kozma, comes through with a base hit and the team goes home as winners, not losers. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s either real, or it’s not.

The cohesiveness that drives a unit is not something you can feel and touch. Oh, you can be sure the numbers guys will try to bring it in from the abstract by giving us stats on two-out base hits and runners left in scoring position, etc. Forget it.

It’s like trying to define pornography. Go ahead, try to put it in words. But I bet you know it when you see it! The same thing applies here.

Don’t Overhype Cohesiveness, Though

Having a cohesive unit that plays together as a team is vital, but it still takes talent to produce a winning season. All it means is that your team has a better chance of winning close games than the other team which lacks the same spirit or ingredient.

Finding a way to win, as the Yankees did today in a game they had no business winning, is a difference maker over the long haul of 162 games. Add 8-10 wins like their win today to last year’s total and all of a sudden the Yankees are winners of 92 wins instead of 83.

It’s much too early to put the Yankees in a box and pronounce them as a cohesive and potential deadly unit as a team. But they are showing signs this spring that they are capable of rising to that level.

And it’s no secret that the Yankees “Run” which produced four championships in five years came about because the team gelled together as a unit under the guidance of Joe Torre and the on the field leadership of Derek Jeter.

But on a day when Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks, and Chase Headley all went hitless, and Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge did not make an appearance, Pete Kozma comes up with a base hit with two out in the ninth inning to send the Yanks home with a win.

That’s the way it’s done.