The Yankees will define themselves over the next ten games

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The Yankees will enter the weekend facing the Division leading Red Sox in one of those crucial series everyone’s had marked on the calendar since April. For the Yankees, though, the three-game set is more about defining themselves.

The Yankees and their fans have watched with chagrin as the Boston Red Sox have reeled off eight wins in a row, pushing them further ahead in the AL East. It’s the streak the Yankees needed and were supposed to have, since being buoyed by a strengthened pitching staff at the trade deadline.

The Yankees offense was supposed to come alive again and ram itself through the league, just as it had done in the first half of the first half. But baseball can be a funny game, sometimes. And things don’t always go according to plan.

Your ace of the starting staff turns out to be a dud. The first baseman you were counting on never gets off the ground in rehabbing an injury. Your right fielder, who looked colossal in the first half drifts back to reality, and there are no answers to bring him back to even close to where he was.

The Yankees, as a whole, look like a Little League throwing the ball around in the first two games against the AL Central leading Indians, and then they bounce back playing near-perfect baseball to win the next two games.

Who Are The Yankees?

And therein lies the mystery of the Yankees season. And if you throw out the aberration of the 21-9 start they had to the season, the Yankees are a sub-.500 team with a record of 39-43 since then. And yet, they have managed to cling to their spot as the top Wild Card team in the American League. Go figure.

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At some point in the season, the Yankees, if only for themselves, need to define themselves. Because if baseball over the years teaches us anything, it’s that if they don’t get hot, someone else surely will.

The series against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium before an adoring and a hopeful crowd of fans is the right, and maybe only, the place to start. On paper, the Bombers are a better team than the Red Sox, in particular on the offense side. Still, it’s Boston that’s winning, and the Yankees are not.

Yesterday, I proposed that Radical Times Demand Radical Changes, offering that the team should consider sending down Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Clint Frazier to the minors for a brief tune-up, allowing each of them time to clear their head before returning to the team for the real stretch run in September.

Girardi Leads The Way

The Yankees are not going to do that, and that’s fine. Joe Girardi knows more about baseball and his team than I ever will. And if there’s one thing about Girardi that stands out in his makeup, it’s that he knows how hard it is to play this game, because he’s been there and done it.

And he carries that, perhaps to the extreme, with his undying faith in his players. Girardi is not the kind of manager who measures the wind every day. He is not the manager who is going to supplant Sanchez with Austin Romine as the team’s number one catcher, even as his young player continues to struggle in mastering his position.

And he’s going to continue to run Judge out there until he either breaks out or has a mental breakdown. Ditto Clint Frazier who, despite flashes of brilliance, is still a long way from being a bonafide major league player.

Each of these players needs to do more than they have offensively. That’s a given. The weekend series against the Red Sox has to be the place to start. And the Yankees have to take a minimum of two of the three games, and a genuine spark would obviously be a sweep.

After the Red Sox, the Bombers play the Mets for four games in a home and away series, where they need to take three games, giving up one to the Met’s Lone Ranger, Jacob deGrom. And then it’s right back to Boston for a series at Fenway.

Next: Radical Times Demand Radical Solutions

It doesn’t get any plainer than that. The Yankees season will be defined over the next ten days regarding the standings. But more significantly, the Yankees have a chance to define themselves, individually and as a team.

Because for too long now, an answer to the question, “Who are these guys,” has been fleeting at best. And I suspect they want to know the answer as much as we do.