Perspectives: The Last Day of the 2021 Season? (Revised – There is a Tomorrow)
by Paul Semendinger
October 3, 2021
I am going to try to stay optimistic and hopeful. In reality, what alternative is there? If the Yankees lose today and fall out of the playoffs, we will have months and months and months to complain and give solutions. For now, amazingly, the Yankees still have their fate in their own hands. A win today gets them into the Wild Card game.
All the Yankees have to do is win. That’s it. Just win.
A win gets them into the playoffs.
I think they can do it.
I hope they can.
Earlier I wrote a post stating that today’s game was a must win for the Yankees, believing that if they lost and the other teams won that the Yankees would be out of the playoffs, but I understood the scenarios incorrectly. It seems that, no matter what, the Yankees are playing another game, whether that be the convoluted tie-breaker game or the Wild Card Game.
With that being the case, the Yankees are correct in holding Gerrit Cole for that game. Gerrit Cole should pitch the game that will decide if the Yankees advance or if their season is over.
I always want the ace pitching the game that will determine whether or not the season is over. That’s the Cole game.
I got it wrong.
The New York Post gave a great overview of how the various playoff scenarios will go should they come into play:
Today’s games, then are the ones that will determine the home fields and whether of not the Blue Jays and/or the Mariners get a chance to play in a tie breaker.
For the Yankees, the best scenario still is just to win.
I do believe that one of the ills in baseball, as in many sports, is in their quest to create excitement for the end of the season and to allow as many teams as possible to have a playoff shot, they enact new and different rules that outline how teams can reach the post season. All of this bends the bind in crazy directions and it all becomes quite convoluted and confusing. The more they tinker, the more confusing it gets. I don’t think that’s good for the sport.
I know others will disagree. They’ll say that this creates excitement.
They confused me, that’s for sure.
It sure was simpler when first place meant first place and moving on.
But, again, it was my bad for not getting this correct from the start.
Finally, since I believe that none of us is perfect, and that we also must own our mistakes and our errors and that the best way to get better is to strive and fail, and the get up and then try again, I will not delete my original thoughts on this topic. The original post can be found below right under my favorite Theodore Roosevelt quote. I don’t believe in running away from or deleting my mistakes.
When I fail, at least I fail while daring greatly.
(Credit for the graphic to – http://www.worldfuturefund.org/Documents/maninarena.htm)
Here is the original post:
But now I must be a bit critical…
In today’s MUST WIN (and this is a MUST WIN) game, the Yankees are turning to Jameson Taillon. I wrote above that I am going to try to stay positive, but I also have to be realistic. Let’s take a look at some facts about Taillon this year:
He has pitched only twice in September. In his last start, he lasted only 2.1 innings.
He has won one game since August began. One.
He has pitched against Tampa Bay twice. He’s lost both games. His ERA against the Ray is 6.52.
His ERA in the second half of 2021 is 5.16
To me, from my perspective, Jameson Taillon is not the pitcher to give the ball to in a game that your team must win. Not Jameson Taillon in October 2021. This does not seem like an inspired choice. At all.
I do not blame Aaron Boone for this choice (nor will I give him credit if Taillon pitches well). This was, I am certain, an organizational decision. I am certain that Boone did not make this decision alone. In fact, in the post game interview yesterday, when asked, he said something along the lines of “We will be making that decision,” not “I will be making that decision.”
I know Gerrit Cole would be pitching on short rest if he started today. I know Gerrit Cole hasn’t looked particularly sharp in recent starts. But, unless he’s injured or very sore, isn’t this EXACTLY why the Yankees have Gerrit Cole? Isn’t the whole purpose of having one of the top pitchers in all of baseball having him for games like today? (They can’t be saving him for a game that might not happen, can they?)
It is games like today’s when legends are made. If Gerrit Cole walks into the locker room and says, “Give me the ball, that’s why I am here,” he’d be a hero. The history of sports is replete with stories like that. “Give me the ball.” That is what legendary players do.
Now, because we never know what will happen in any sport or any game (this is why we watch after all) Jameson Taillon could pitch a gem today and propel the Yankees into the playoffs. It’s possible. It can happen. I hope it does.
BUT, I see a bigger problem here. And this is something I have written about before… The Yankees, as an organization, knew when the games were being played. They knew the schedule. They knew that had one big ace and then a bunch of mostly very good pitchers, or pitchers that often pitch very well, at least. They knew they had one ace. And they knew the season could come down to the last game. So, why, weeks ago, when they had the chance, didn’t they set-up the rotation to be assured that Gerrit Cole would be available today on his regular rest? Wouldn’t that have made sense? Wouldn’t a smart organization have done that? The Yankees just don’t seem to be good long-term planners. They seem to go day-by-day. It’s been that way for years. They seem shocked when situations like this come up.
Do you know who is pitching for the Red Sox today? Chris Sale. In a MUST WIN game, they have their ace on the mound. The Yankees, by contrast, are pitching a guy who has talent, and has had some excellent moments, but is certainly not the ace, an ace, or anything close – especially since he’s been hurt and is coming back from an injury that took him out of his last start. It just doesn’t seem like an inspired choice. If the Yankees had planned better, there wouldn’t have been this choice to make.
Again, Taillon might go out and pitch brilliantly, and Sale might get clobbered, but a team should always plan to be able to put its best team on the field in the biggest games. The Yankees did not do that. And that’s a problem.
One argument is that the Yankees might be wanting to save Gerrit Cole for the Wild Card Game. If that’s the reason they’re holding him back, it’s a terrible one. There is no guarantee that the Yankees will be in the Wild Card Game. The only guaranteed game is today. Today is the game they must win. And they’ve set it up and made the decision to not use their ace.
All four of the teams (the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Yankees) who are battling for the two Wild Card spots are playing at 3:00 p.m. today. This promises to be a wild day of baseball. It should be a roller coaster ride. It’ll be fun (I hope), stressful, and angst ridden. This, though, is why we are fans.
Is it 3:00 yet?
Let’s Go Yankees!