You know your team is in trouble when in late May, your captain starts telling the media that "every game from here on in is a playoff." That may work when your the Cleveland Cavaliers and you're down 2-0 to perennial powerhouse, Detroit, in the NBA Eastern Finals but not when you're the New York Yankees. The difference is, the Cavs knew they needed to win four games to make it to the NBA finals. The Yanks have to win closer to 64.
The Bronx Bombers did make a valiant effort at treating every game like a playoff after a horrific losing stretch put them 14 1/2 games behind the white hot Red Sox. The Yanks were able to win 14 of 17 and pull within 7 of the Sox. However, there's a reason why an MLB season is compared to a "marathon" vs. a "sprint" because there are 162 games to play over the course of five and a half months. That's A LOT of baseball.
This weekend, we saw the "playoff mentality" of the Yankees translate into desperation as the Giants took two of three from the men in pinstripes. When a team feels compelled to trot out their 45 year old "rent-an-ace" pitcher in relief in late June, it has problems. This is particularly concerning when the team's payroll is $190 million -- the largest in baseball -- and the team has has pitchers like Villone, Vizcaino, Proctor, Myers, Farnsworth and Rivera who are supposed to get the job done.
I understand that the Yanks played 13 innings on Saturday and had to burn through their their bullpen more than they would have liked, but therein lies the problem. If the Yankees hadn't fallen 14 1/2 games behind the Sox (6 1/2 back in the Wild Card) early on, they wouldn't be forced to make desperation moves this early.
The beauty of baseball is that anything can happen. The Oakland A's seem to demonstrate that in the second half of every season. The Minnesota Twins proved it to the Tigers as they came roaring back last year (although Detroit got the last laugh by making it to the "Fall Classic.") Certainly Sox Nation knows it can happen as Bucky "Bleeping" Dent and the season of 1978 will be forever emblazoned in their minds. I don't see it this year though. The Sox pitching is too good and their bats have yet to all get hot at the same time.
On a related note, how good does if feel knowing that you've already got a stacked rotation (third best ERA in MLB) with Jon Lester in the wings only to find out that your team is the front runner (at least according to ESPN) on the Mark Buehrle chase. It may be a ploy to bid up the market so that the Yanks can't get him but hey, I'm okay with that too!
Schadenfreude 190 (A Continuing Series)
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