Perspectives: What More Is There To Say?
by Paul Semendinger
September 9, 2021
I love the Yankees. I have loved the Yankees with all of my heart since 1977. There’s nothing I want more, each day, than for the Yankees to win.
I thirst for a Yankees World Series.
I want to enjoy a championship, glory, a parade in NYC, and all that comes with winning.
The Yankees are my team, always have been, always will be. Once we fall in love with a team, it’s not always logical. But, then again, that’s why we’re called fans. Right?
But we don’t have to love what we love. I have not loved watching the 2021 Yankees. I didn’t love watching the 2020 Yankees. I haven’t loved watching the Yankees for a few years.
They just haven’t, for long stretches, been a fun team to watch. That’s just a fact. It just is.
We’ve now reached a critical point in the season. A season that, except for a blip, or a seeming blip, the Yankees have underperformed and underwhelmed.
When the Yankees were rolling, I stated that I wasn’t sold on the team yet. But, at the tail end of the 13-game winning streak, I was reluctantly starting to think about believing. I was getting ready to buy in. But, since then, all of my concerns, all of the reasons I didn’t buy in, have come back.
This just is not a very good team. It just isn’t.
If the Yankees went 7-6 over those 13 games, they’d have just 72 wins right now. They’d be 72-67. They’d be in fifth place in the Wild Card standings.
During that 13 game winning streak, the Yankees won eight games by two or fewer runs. They didn’t dominate. That’s for sure. Two of the wins (yes they all count, but…) came during a double header with shortened games so one of their flaws (the back-end of the bullpen) wasn’t fully exposed. During the 13 game streak, the Yankees were not rolling over their opponents, they were often just getting by.
It felt more like good luck than great skill.
This is a flawed team.
What I hate to even say, because it hurts – it’s not even a team, that, for the most part, is fun to watch. They just aren’t. To watch the 2021 Yankees is to watch a team that is often lifeless, often seemingly without heart. For long periods of time, they just seem to go through the motions.
Sometimes I think I want the team to win more than the players. I know that isn’t true, but it’s a problem when I, as a fan, feel that way… when I don’t see the passion and desire in the players. When that’s the case, something is wrong.
No one ever said that players like Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson,. Graig Nettles, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, to name just a few, didn’t want to win. Their determination was apparent. Those players had a fire, a determination. Pardon me for stating that I just don’t feel that energy from this collection of players.
I wish I did. I hate even pointing this out.
I also don’t get that sense from the manager or coaches. The team plays, it wins or loses, they pack up, and they go home.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
“It’s a long season.”
“We’ll get them tomorrow.”
“We just missed.”
“The breaks didn’t go our way.”
“We’re so close.”
Since the 13-game winning streak, the Yankees are 2-9. That’s bad. Real bad.
The Yankees are 2-9 in the heat of a pennant race. This isn’t 2-9 in May (which still isn’t good). It’s 2-9 in September.
A few weeks ago, the Yankees odds to make the playoffs on ESPN were over 90%. Today they sit at 68.1%.
The Yankees no longer lead the Wild Card race. The Blue Jays, the A’s, and even the Mariners are getting very close to the Yankees. Too close.
Quick question – Which would surprise you more, seeing the Yankees out of the playoffs or seeing them win the World Series?
The 2021 Yankees are now on pace to win 91 games. 91.
New question – Which would surprise you more, seeing the Yankees win 95 games this year or seeing them win just 86 games?
Aaron Boone might be the nicest guy ever. He seems to be. I don’t think he’s a great manager. I don’t think he was the right manager for what was supposed to be a great age for the Yankees.
That age never came.
This hasn’t been that great age.
The last four years of Yankees baseball have had some highs. It’s been fun, at times. But this was supposed to be the time. The Time. This was supposed to be the Yankees’ era. It hasn’t been. And it’s not.
And the window is closing on the chances for this core of players to get it done. Remember when this was a young core?
Young they aren’t. Not really. Even if the Yankees defy logic and turn this thing around, this is not a core that will have a long run in them, a series of years and years of winning.
It’s getting awfully close to the time for the Yankees to begin to plan for the next era – an era that I don’t think will have the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, D.J. LeMahieu, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Aroldis Chapman, or, dare I say it, even a Gerrit Cole still in his prime as main contributors.
In many ways, we’ve seen the best of what that core had to offer. It wasn’t quite enough.
Here’s a full list of the Yankees on the roster who will be under 30-years old at the start of the 2022 season:
(That’s not the core that was supposed to be at the heart of this championship era.)
I have to wonder what will make the Yankees management understand that the door has just about closed? The core players on the 2022 Yankees will all be on the wrong side of 30-years-old.
Time passes too quickly.
When years are lost, they’re lost forever. The many decisions the Yankees made, starting with firing Joe Girardi and hiring Aron Boone, but including watching the luxury tax too closely and passing on players that could have made a difference, and so much more…led to this point.
In October 2017, the Yankees were young, exciting, and on the precipice.
In September 2021, they are none of those things.
I’m not for throwing in the towel. I’m still hoping for a miracle.
I’ll always hope for a miracle.
But, along with that miracle, I have a very real concern… a very real worry.
If the Yankees turn it around… If they sneak into the playoffs… If they win the Wild Card game… If they go even further… (And I hope they do, of course…)
But if they do, will the wins, in the end, obscure what we’ve watched these last four years, especially the last two?
If the Yankees suddenly win a bunch of games, will that convince the upper management and the owner that the decisions they’ve made all along have worked?
Or (and I hate to even wonder aloud, at this point) is it better, for the long term health of the franchise to hope that that a 2021 miracle doesn’t occur so they can look critically at the team and its leadership and make some very tough decisions?
I don’t want the Yankees to lose. Ever.
But I’m starting to wonder, as they play out the final 23 games of the 2021 season, is it better for the Yankees to lose than to win and to continue this mirage?