The New York Yankees have faced some wild September stretch runs over the years.
In terms of overall strangeness, no season’s got anything on 2020 for the Yankees — a pandemic’ll do that to you.
So will eight (8!) playoff teams per league, and a three-game Wild Card round … for everyone!
But even though Yankee fans have felt the roller coaster significantly in recent weeks, weathering five- and seven-game losing streaks, we’re here to remind you that the nail-biting can get far more frequent, and much stranger.
Does September matter in the grand scheme of things? YES! A tough September can derail a promising season. But can a team shrug off September doldrums and ride on to victory in October, regardless? Can a hot final month quickly be doused by something even hotter when the calendar turns? You bet.
Though ’20 is giving all of these a run for their money, we think these three Septembers are the outright strangest for the modern Yankees.
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An exceedingly tight pennant race, coming down to the wire, and culminating with the Yankees and Red Sox tussling for first place at Fenway Park to wrap up the season!
And it didn’t matter at all!
After a crazy-tight September, the Yanks and Sox met one year after their epic (sorry, “disastrous”) ALCS battle to run things back at the Fens to decide AL East supremacy. Only one issue: The series’ loser was guaranteed the Wild Card, and a date with the Chicago White Sox, while the winner would head to Los Angeles to battle the Angels. Both series would start on the road, and neither was particularly favorable. Let the … something begin? Strange vibes all around.
The Yankees woke up on Sept. 1 2.5 games back of the Sox, and proceeded to lose the month’s first two games. But then, the run began, mostly fueled by dominance of the Devil Rays and Blue Jays.
By the time Friday, Sept. 30 came around, the two teams were tied, but by virtue of tiebreakers, all the Yanks needed to do was win once to secure their AL East title. That series opener featured David Wells in a Sox uni out-dueling Chien-Ming Wang 5-3. The pressure was then on — well, faux-pressure. Remember, both of these teams were headed to the promised land!
That Saturday, Randy Johnson delivered (seriously, what a forgettable era), throwing 7.1 three-run inning to top Tim Wakefield 8-4, giving the Yanks the “coveted” crown.
Why didn’t this matter more? It’s such a shame. At least both teams got what they wanted, Division Series-wise; they were both bounced in the first round! Strange, strange, strange.