Perspectives: Dream or Nightmare?
by Paul Semendinger
July 3, 2023
I know there is this belief, this hope, this dream... that the Yankees have a chance to still make 2023 amazing and exciting and wonderful.
I don't see it happening.
Sure, I get where the dream comes from:
"Once all the pitchers are healthy..."
"The Yankees will be big players at the deadline..."
"Judge will come back..."
"Bader is great..."
"Volpe figured it out..."
"Anything can happen in a short series..."
I get it. It's fun to dream. Hope springs eternal.
I just don't see the dream becoming a reality. And my worry is that if all of the above (and probably more) don't happen, the Yankees will either fail to make the playoffs, or (worse yet) they'll reach then playoffs and be eliminated again before making it to the World Series.
I love the optimism so many fans demonstrate. It's great. "Ya' Gotta Believe!" I'm just not buying in. We've seen this show before. We see it year-after-year-after-year.
I am of the belief that if the Yankees make it to the playoffs as a wild card team, they'll consider 2023 another successful year. The Yankees' decision makers will celebrate the success of making the playoffs. "We did it again!" And the Yankees apologists (the Yankees included) will point to all the reasons why they lost this year's playoffs. Any fan who has watched this team these last many years can probably list, right now, Aaron Boone's talking points after the Yankees are eliminated this October:
"We didn't get a few calls..."
"Our pitcher just missed on a few pitches..."
"The guys hit the ball hard, but they just didn't fall in..."
"The weather didn't help..."
"Injuries happen, but, sometimes... if we had been at 100%..."
"Playing on the road was tough..."
You see, if the Yankees fulfill the dream of so many, and make it to the playoffs with this team, they'll most likely lose there.
The problem is, the Yankees will think they won because they created some excitement and this will make them follow the same exact strategy going forward - all while chasing something that isn't realistic. (This is not a World Series team. At all.)
This is why the dream of so many, will really be a nightmare. The dream will result in 2024 playing out as 2023 did, which was like so many of the other years of the Boone era: Big hopes followed by uneven play all ending in disappointment. And along the way, each season the Yankees seem to get just a little bit worse rather than a little bit better.
I have written before that it is difficult for teams to be self-reflective - to see a problem, to admit there is a problem, and to find ways to fix the problem. The Yankees have a problem. They have lots of them. What they don't seem to do is change their approach.
The Yankees see being just good enough as... good enough. That's how the Yankees define success.
"Good enough is."
I see the Yankees making the playoffs, just barely, losing, as always, and then having Brian Cashman tell us again in the post season press conference that "the process was sound."
No, it wasn't.
The process has not been sound for a long time.
In this regard, making the playoffs is the worst thing that can happen. It will signal to the Yankees that they can build a very flawed team and still consider the end result (a failure) a success.
The better result would be for the Yankees to not make it to the playoffs and start to change things because, as I see it, that's the only way they'll finally see the mistakes they have been making for so long.
Since July 1, 2022, the following are the Yankees records by month:
That's an overall record of 88-78. That's a .530 winning percentage over what is now slightly more than a full season (166 games).
I know the excuses the Yankees have. I get it, but, at what point does the reality of their play, the actual results, not the excuses, not the process, not anything, become the story?
Fans, the manager, the GM, whomever, can make all the excuses in the world, but baseball is a results based business.
And for the Yankees, for a long time now, the results have not been there.
The last time the Yankees had the best record in the American League over a full season was 2012.
I know there is this belief that Giancarlo Stanton is going to turn it around.
Again, I understand the allure of hopes and dreams.
Here are Giancarlo Stanton's stats, month-by-month, since June 1, 2022:
May: Did not play
Over that period, Giancarlo Stanton is batting a robust .174.
Stanton hasn't been a good hitter for more than a season now.
It's nice to hope and dream and hope some more, but, at some point, reality has to win out.
Just as a reminder, as a player, hitting is Stanton's strength.
Finally, I know there is this belief that the Yankees will make some amazing deals at the deadline.
I'd love to believe that as well.
For all who believe that, please list the last five big mid-season deals the Yankees have made that have worked out well. (Include the dates please.)
The sooner the Yankees recognize the problems, the sooner they can address them. But, until they do, we're going to be stuck in the same cycle.
If the hope is that the Yankees will win a World Series, the fans are going to be dreaming for a long time.