Yankees Opening Day overreactions due to familiar flaws on full display


Yes, there’s a good chance Yankees fans will look back in embarrassment at their Opening Day takes several times over the course of this season.

When the team is on a roll mid-summer, it’ll look quaint and preposterous that we were all stressed out over DJ LeMahieu’s ill-timed grounder to third and Aaron Judge’s seventh-inning killer double play with the bases loaded.

But there’s also a good chance those same fans will examine their Opening Day takes in the cool light of October and find some familiarity and common ground.

That’s what scares us the most.

We all know that, at some point (likely soon), the team will shake off these early one-game doldrums, bust out on offense, and ride massive leads to the finish line.

Everything we saw on Thursday, though, was an extremely familiar symptom of every catastrophic Yankees loss under the spotlight that this current core has produced. Hence, a series of overreactions that could feel ridiculous in June but pertinent again in the fall. After all, we’ve seen it so many times before.

The Yankees on Opening Day looked like the Yankees in a playoff series.

As much as we’d rather not romanticize the past after one baseball game this season, the hallmark of every dynastic Yankees team from the late 1990s was their incessant peskiness. Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile.

The hallmark of this modern iteration of the Yankees has unfortunately been the exact opposite; give them an opportunity a mile wide, and they’ll devise the exact way to most painfully shut the window you’ve given them.

After taking a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning, the Yankees went down in order a few times before stranding runners on first and second to end the fifth and sixth, extinguishing a bases-loaded rally in the seventh, and letting a leadoff walk/runner on second with no outs die in both the ninth and 10th.

Even when they were quite literally gifted a runner in scoring position to begin the 10th, they decided they’d much rather have nothing to do with him. Can we get the gift receipt for that, please?

With the chance to be a trend-bucking hero in the seventh, the bases freshly loaded on a walk thanks to the non-electric David Phelps, Aaron Judge got a 2-1 fastball middle-middle with the opportunity to change a knee-jerk narrative. He found the only way out of joy, and he found it swiftly.

At that point, any Yankee fan worth his salt could’ve turned off the television and recited the game’s final three innings for you ahead of time.

Will Thursday’s frigid Opening Day loss really chart a path for the 161 games that follow? Of course not. But wouldn’t you much rather not have gotten a pleasant reminder of the exact way the previous four Yankees seasons have ended in Game 1?

Because, four seasons in a row, with endless chatter about pitching depth and deficiency, the staff has largely held in the season’s biggest moments, having been given zero margin for error by a still-too-tight offense.

So, please excuse Yankees fans for complaining about a very painful Opening Day. They’re not losing their wits about dropping one game of 162. They’re worried about having lost the same game thousands of times before, after being assured repeatedly this year would be different.