Hey! You! Yeah, you! Want to get hurt again?
Nah, you're right. Why would you want to do that? Why would you opt into pure pain? Well, I counter you with this. You watch baseball, don't you? Well, my friend, that involves opting into pain emphatically at least ~70 times at the end of a long, hard watch, in a way that permeates the next morning and turns even your coffee run or toothbrushing into some sickening mental rehash of the way things broke down the evening prior. What's one more ride down memory lane, for old time's sake?
This is how it always goes, though, right? There's no line of thinking more universal than, "Hey, we'd be winners if we didn't lose so damn much!" Losses are unavoidable. Same with tough ones. Even the best teams have five or 10 "Wait ... WHAT?" games per year.
But the 2023 Yankees, who opted against playing their most talented roster until Sept. 1, have a resume covered in so many close losses and narrow misses that those early summer gaffes will likely define their fate, rather than this late-season, running-out-of-time scramble.
It's not only necessary to rehash them, but it might even be worth printing this column out and sticking it in a time capsule so future generations can learn why, exactly, the Yankees missed the playoffs despite Jasson Dominguez going supernova in his rookie season.
Yankees could be in thick of 2023 MLB Playoffs race if not for 10, 15, 20 sickening thuds
Turn around five of these losses, and the Yankees are just a game out right now in the Wild Card chase, with six remaining against Toronto and four against Boston. Turn around 10? The Yankees would be riding high, holding onto the sixth seed and scaring Houston.
Sadly, despite recent advancements in modern technology, you cannot turn back time. Best I can do for you is get angry about it. Like ... (deep breath) ...
- When Stanton/Donaldson/Torres blew second-and-third with nobody out against the Giants in Game 2 of 162 in a tiebreaking opportunity, then Stanton grounded into a bases-loaded, one-out double play in the rain against Camilo Doval to end a game. Didn't think we'd go back this far, did you?!
- The April game where the Yankees rallied back to grab a 5-4 lead in Baltimore, swiftly blown by Ron Marinaccio
- James Karinchak stranding Gleyber Torres at third after a leadoff triple and gyrating off the mound like he was freaking Oppenheimer or something (Cleveland is now firmly OUT of the playoffs, too, you rule, dude)
- Clay Holmes blowing Nestor Cortes' lead against Carlos Correa and the Twins in the 8th (we're still in the first half of April)
- Aaron Boone pulling a cruising Domingo Germán in the 9th inning against the Guardians because he was scared of an Amed Rosario homer (?), then watching Clay Holmes blow the game (with a trademark Fumbled Dribbler) in a 3-2 loss
- The bullpen surrendering a tiebreaking run after Harrison Bader's dramatic home run helped the Yankees rally back from 4-0 down at The Trop
- 6-0 lead. Gerrit Cole. In Tampa.
- Danny Jansen's scoreless, three-run, walk-off homer in extras in Toronto
- The Yankees blowing a 5-1 lead at home against the Orioles with an eight-run 7th (that's Jimmy Cordero's music...)
- 1-0 loss in 10 innings to Seattle (Score the Ghost Runner one time? Ever?)
- Either of their two no-show home losses to the Chicago White Sox in June, preferably the first game of the doubleheader blown by Michael King
- 2-1 lead in the 8th at home against Boston blown by ... Michael King (and Anthony Volpe's game-winning homer going just foul two nights prior, for good measure)
- The bullpen wilting with a two-run lead at Citi Field after Isiah Kiner-Falefa's mad dash around the bases (Score the Ghost Runner one time? Ever?)
- The Bombers putting runners on the corners with no outs against Texas in the 8th inning down one, getting a single run, never scoring again, and losing in extras (Don't make me say it again)
- Nick Ramirez on July 5 against the Orioles, when the Yankees took the foot off the gas and never put it back on until September
- The Cubs Game just before the break
- The Rockies Game just after the break
- Michael King pitching to Shohei the very next night
- Maybe win Aug. 6 against Houston after you've battled all the way back to tie the game at five?
- Win either of the two games you lost on the road at Chicago? You lost two series to Chicago?
- THE. MIAMI. GAME.
- Maybe win the game Anthony Volpe equalized against Boston with a clutch three-run shot (ASTERISK: The umpires took a run off the board here with no justification, they kind of did win this one)?
- Tommy Kahnle beefing a 3-1 lead against the Nationals in a game that didn't even feel in doubt, then disappeared
- Hold a 4-2 lead at the Trop and don't let Randy Arozarena run all over you, I'm sorry
- Don't throw away an inning-ending double play ball in the 10th inning in Detroit, I'm very sorry
(Score the Ghost Runner one time? Ever?)
This exhaustive list didn't even include games where New York no-showed or games like Anthony Santander walking off the 'pen after Gerrit Cole's shutout/the Bombers fumbling an early lead and then shutting down the offense in the first game of a doubleheader at Fenway. And it was EXHAUSTIVE. Were you exhausted? That was the point.
Bringing up the kids earlier probably wouldn't have changed the entire culture on a dime and erased 15 of these horrendous games from the memory banks, but doing anything at the deadline or adding a left fielder during the offseason certainly would've helped.
The painful truth is? It really was "right out there in front" of the Yankees all year. They just needed to not do this 20 different times (and treating Anthony Rizzo's obvious concussion might've been nice, too). Frankly, I strongly dislike the trend of dramatically tying a game, then losing it shortly thereafter, making the whole process more upsetting than if the deficit had never been erased in the first place. Especially against our chief rivals over and over again!
Ah, well. There's always next year (and 30 new things to get angry about).