by Paul Semendinger
October 1, 2021
Well, we wanted the Yankees to play October baseball, and here we are.
With a 91-68 record, the Yankees are on the verge of clinching a Wild Card spot. With three games remaining in the season, the Yankees are two games ahead of the Red Sox (and Mariners) and three games ahead of the Blue Jays.
How did the Yankees get here? By playing fantastic winning baseball, that’s how. I never thought they had this in them. I am very glad to have been wrong about this.
Since September 13, the Yankees are 12-4. They are 8-1 over their last nine games. AMAZING!
I have to make a promise to myself, going forward, forever more (because this happens every year)… I don’t plan to ever look at “strength of schedule” and such when assessing a team’s playoff chances. So often, the “strength of schedule” stuff does not play out as it should on paper. Over the last month, the Yankees lost “big series” to the Angels, Orioles, Mets, and Indians. Then they went out and trounced the Red Sox and Blue Jays. It’s been the same for the other contenders. The Red Sox were supposed to be rolling. They just dropped two of three to the Orioles. Last week the Blue Jays lost two games to the Twins. On and on. I never used to look at that kind of stuff. I don’t plan to (at least as much) going forward.
Teams are made up of people. Professionals have pride in their work, whether they are a last place club or a first place club. Players want to win. That’s what makes sports so compelling – the fact that anything can happen.
Boy this year, anything has happened.
And then some.
Aaron Judge hit two big homers last night. It has been exactly how Yankees fans had hoped it would be this last week or so with Judge and Giancarlo Stanton mashing the ball.
Who would have thought that the Mariners would be ahead of the Blue Jays heading into baseball’s last weekend?
If you had a choice, which team would you want to play in a one-game Wild Card playoff? The Red Sox? The Blue Jays? The Mariners? Again, in a one-game playoff, anything, absolutely anything, can happen. I just want the Yankees to win whoever they play against.
If the Yankees make the ALCS, do I want them to play the Astros or the White Sox? I don’t care about “revenge” or any of that with the Astros. I just want wins. If the Yankees get there and they play the White Sox and win and reach the World Series, that’s “revenge” enough for me.
I feel badly for Luke Voit, but his injury made the Yankees’ first base/DH question a lot easier to answer.
In a perfect world, Gerrit Cole would pitch Game 1 of a playoff series, but after that it’s a toss-up. A case can be made for Nestor Cortes, Jordan Montgomery, or Corey Kluber. They all (to me at least) inspire the same confidence and worry. Unfortunately, Cole does more and more as well. I think Mr. Cole is exhausted from carrying the heavy load all year. He’ll pitch the Wild Card game and then, it’ll be up to the rest of the staff (should the Yankees win).
After this weekend, I’ll have to make my award picks for the IBWAA. My gut says that Gerrit Cole will be the American league Cy Young Award Winner. (I’ll have to dig deeper into this.)
One final weekend of the regular season to go. What a ride it’s been.
Let’s Go Yankees!