Perspectives: Royals Win – Let’s Face It, The Yankees Are Mediocre
Mediocre teams win games. And mediocre teams win series. They just don’t win enough games or enough series. I hate to say this as well, bad teams also win games and series.
The Orioles took a series this year from the Yankees.
So did the White Sox.
And the Royals, another bad team, just won the first game of this weekend’s series.
Last night, the Yankees scored one run. They looked bad. They managed only four hits. The Royals, the Kansas City Royals, who are a bad team, beat them 6-1. It wasn’t a fun game to watch…because, by and large, the 2019 Yankees, right now, aren’t fun to watch.
Mediocre teams can play above their heads for periods of time. They can create excitement. They can create hope.
Mediocre teams break fans hearts.
When your team is bad, rooting takes a different approach. You look for the small things, the glimmers of hope. Any improvement brings joy. You look to the future. The future is always bright. There is always next year.
Mediocre teams, though, break your heart because, until the dust settles, they always remain on the fringe. They’re always just a hot streak away from contending. When teams are mediocre, we hear a lot of “If only…”
The “If onlys” are what breaks fans hearts:
“If only that ball got through.”
“If only that close pitch was called a strike.”
“If only he didn’t hesitate…”
“If only they went to the bullpen sooner.”
“If only Hicks were healthy…”
“If only Severino or Betances or Sanchez or Stanton or Andujar or… were healthy…!”
But the thing is, with mediocre teams, the “If only” never comes true. Ever. That’s how they break your heart. Because baseball is played every day, the mediocre team has plenty of changes to make your suffer – to deliver pain.
Too many chances.
But they only do this after they give false hope.
Mediocre teams lose big games after sweeping an opponent on the road… Mediocre teams lose against a team like the Royals after sweeping the Red Sox.
This is what mediocre teams too.
They give hope – before they take it away.
And, I hate to say this, but it has to be said…this is what the 2019 Yankees are. This is what they are. It isn’t going to get better. This is a .500 team (actually they’re 8-10) who plays like a .500 team, has an approach that screams .500 team (“We are close,” “We’re almost there,” “We just have to get everyone right,” “We can turn the corner soon…”), and a roster that befits a .500 team.
The Yankees are mediocre.
They will be mediocre.
They’re going to do this to us all season long.
Mediocre teams hit some remarkable highs, but then they come crashing down.
When teams are mediocre, fans reach, beyond hope, for miracles. “C.C. is the stopper. He’s pitching today, if he can only do it again…”
But, here’s some historical context…. I just looked up a random bad Yankees team from the past knowing that with any club there are hot streaks that make people believe…
(And we’re going to see a lot of this this year.)
The 1967 Yankees were just a few years removed from a World Series appearance in 1964. The roster was full of young stars: Tom Tresh, Joe Pepitone, Roy White, Al Downing, Mel Stottlemyre… Plus veterans like Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard were still with the club. Ultimately, this was a bad team (the 1967 Yankees finished the year with a 72-90 record in 9th place in the American League). But, until they proved to be bad, they were mediocre.
The 1967 Yankees got off to a 9-5 start. Even after 26 games, they were still 13-13. They seemed to be holding their own at that point, but then went into a 5-10 tailspin to fall to 18-23. All seemed lost.
But even bad teams win. Even bad teams win series…
That 1967 squad then caught fire… They went 7-2 over their next nine games and, remarkably, got back to .500 at 25-25. Fifty games into the season, they were a .500 club.
That’s what mediocre teams do.
I hate to say this, I hate to be all doom and gloom, but what aspects of the 2019 Yankees give the fans any indication that their fate won’t be similar? They won’t be as bad as the 1967 team in the end, but I sure see a team that resembles a club that gets hot and cold and (for 50 games at least) plays .500 ball.
I hate to say all this because I love the Yankees. I’ve loved the Yankees for 42 years. I’ve lived and died with the Yankees each day each summer for a lifetime. The Yankees are part of me…and that’s why this realization hurts. But it’s got to be said.
The 2019 Yankees inspire no hope in me. I don’t see the good news on the horizon. I see a plethora of hurt players – all who seemingly suffered minor injuries before missing significant time. Who is coming back soon? Right now the Yankees are losing to bad teams. Soon they’ve have to play the better teams.
I also get very concerned when teams don’t treat injuries seriously. This “maybe Andujar can swing a bat or maybe he can play first base” talk just prolongs the seeming inevitable. The man is hurt. I’ve seen this far too often the last few years with the Yankees. It does not inspire confidence. They seem to not really take these injuries seriously, until we hear that it’s worse than they thought and the player misses another month – or year.
I also see a manager and a coaching staff that just don’t inspire confidence.
And, finally, I see an organization that wants to try to win by being creative, but not by doing whatever it takes to win. River Ave Blues sums this up terrifically today:
“The Yankees have played some crummy baseball these three weeks, and these games count in the standings. How could anyone not be discouraged after losing home series to the Orioles, Tigers, and White Sox? And third, the Yankees just had a giant fart noise of an offseason. They passed on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, passed on Patrick Corbin, and tried to piece things together with lower cost free agent signings…
“When you’re a World Series contender and your best free agent signings are DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino, well, you’ll have to forgive me for being underwhelmed.
“I see a lot more negatives than positives right now. The injuries, the losses to bad teams, and the Yankees being apathetic toward building the best roster possible are hard to ignore.”
Sure the Yankees can turn it around – and I hope they do, but it’s because of that hope, a hope that right now seems unreasonable, that I’m afraid that what we’re seeing is what we’re going to get. I have a strong feeling that the Yankees are going to play like this all season.
There will be times when they make us believe and force us to dream…
But, the end, they’re only going to show only that they’re mediocre.
This is what they are.
(I hope I’m wrong.)