Wake us up when the Yankees finally want to play baseball


The New York Yankees claim to be a championship contender? That’s interesting because … it couldn’t feel far from it.

Seven games into the 2021 season is hardly a definitive sample size, but you know what is definitive? Energy. Motivation. Toughness. Fundamentals. Awareness. And that’s everything this Yankees team lacks, and has been lacking.

This team is filled to the brim with stars — both of the veteran and promising young talent variety. On paper, it feels like the perfect concoction of players to assemble a championship roster.

But names and talent are just part of the equation. They’re hardly the final answer. And that’s one of many current dilemmas with the Yankees right now. It might be the most glaring, too.

Let’s start with energy and motivation. Remember this was a problem last year, when the Yankees went on an unforgivable losing streak before Luke Voit finally spoke up and provided a voice of reason and accountability?

Once again, there’s none of that this year. It’s always “Ah, man, things didn’t bounce our way.” Aaron Judge really provided the only moment of self-realization when he said he “missed his opportunities,” but that didn’t feel harsh enough. Players should be hard on themselves regardless of where we are in a given season.

Instead, in the Yankees’ latest embarrassing loss to the Rays (every loss is very much embarrassing, there’s no other outcome), it really felt like the constant Judge injury non-updates affected team morale … but despite that, the Yankees always feel like a bunch of robots when they endure such losses.

Everything about the Yankees’ 3-4 start has been embarrassing.

An uncharacteristic error from DJ LeMahieu opened up the door for the Rays’ first two runs. Rays pitcher Rich Hill couldn’t have been more efficient in every other inning aside from the Bombers’ four-run third. These Yankees hitters are supposed to be pesky, not prone to allowing a 41-year-old pitcher who is no longer good to surrender four hits across six innings.

How about toughness! That goes hand-in-hand with what we just talked about. Whenever the Yankees have gone down this year or were faced with a clutch opportunity to break the tie, they’ve largely failed to battle. After the Rays’ back-breaking three-run third and four-run fourth … the Yankees didn’t get a hit until the eighth inning. Hill and Hunter Strickland retired 15 of the next 17 batters. Just wave the white flag already.

And finally, fundamentals and awareness. The Yankees continue to look petrified on defense. Every effort on that side of the ball appears to be a strain. We already spoke of LeMahieu’s error. Gleyber Torres again couldn’t impress, failing to track down a ball in foul territory. Tyler Wade let a ball go right under his glove (yes, on a sliding effort, but still). The Yankees now have the seventh-most errors in MLB with five (and should have more!). And we’re seven games in. It doesn’t help that LeMahieu played out of position on Friday and Jay Bruce has been doing so all year. Clint Frazier hardly looks comfortable in the outfield. And we don’t need to talk more about Torres at shortstop.

Awareness! Don’t forget about that. The defense overall feels like it’s not “ready.” We’ve already ripped individual performances enough. What about at the plate? We know situational hitting doesn’t exist, but maybe making contact and trying to get the ball in the air in those extra-inning games with a runner starting the inning on second? Nah.

On Opening Day, Hicks, Stanton and Torres all struck out. Didn’t come close to hitting the ball. Frazier, Bruce and Urshela did the same the other night against the O’s … but were thankful a Kyle Higashioka RBI single was sandwiched in between. And when they FINALLY try playing some small ball with a Brett Gardner bunt, LeMahieu lines out into a game-ending double with Urshela being thrown out at the plate.

Call us pessimists, but we truly cannot fathom what we are seeing from this team so far, especially with Friday’s effort when they watched the Rays lift that AL Pennant banner in Tampa. Once again, letting a worse version of last year’s team punk you after they had just gotten swept by the Red Sox.

We’ll still be watching, but please do wake us up when the Yankees want to play baseball, because we’ll be sleepwalking our way through it all until that’s the case.