Perspectives: Wild Cards, Playoffs, More...
by Paul Semendinger
October 9, 2022
While I have not watched the Wild Card games inning by inning, they have been compelling to follow. More importantly, we now know who the Yankees will be playing in the ALDS, and as the weekend closes, we also get closer and closer to that big series. Let's Go Yankees!
Some random observations, thoughts, and my perspectives on much:
Let's Go Mets! I have written this before and discussed this often. This notion that a Yankees fan can't root for the Mets is nonsense. There were years that I absolutely despised the Mets. And there are years when I root for them. I like this Mets team. I wanted Francisco Lindor on the Yankees. Big time. And, of course, I have always been a big fan of Buck Showalter. I want Buck Showalter to find success. I hope he gets the Amazins to the World Series. Of course, if the Yankees are also there, I'll be rooting against the Mets. Big time. BIG TIME. But until that point... Go Buck! Go Mets.
Some of my closest friends are Mets fans. I am happy that they can have some enjoyment. As a Yankees fan am I supposed to be so cold as to wish bad feelings and less enjoyment on my friends just because they root for a different team?
Long time readers know that my dad is a lifelong, loyal, and dedicated Red Sox fan. He grew up and has lived as the biggest Ted Williams fan in the whole world - bar none. In seasons when the Yankees are out of it, I'd like my dad to be happy, so when the Red Sox win in those situations, I am happy for him.
My dad and I were at Game 6 of the 1996 World Series in Yankee Stadium when the Yankees won it all. (I have an article about that game coming out in a Yankee Stadium book being published by SABR.) My dad was excited for me as we watched the Yankees win the World Series together. Yes, a Red Sox fan can root for the Yankees. And a Yankees fan can root for the Sox or the Mets... or anyone.
In 1986, I rooted hard AGAINST the Mets. I didn't like those Mets teams. I was rooting hard for my dad's team, the Red Sox. My heart was crushed when that ball went through Bill Bucker's legs.
I have never liked the Dodgers. I didn't root against them when Don Mattingly and Joe Torre managed them, but I never rooted for them, except once, 1988. I rooted against Kirk Gibson most of my life, his homer in 1984 that sunk the Padres was a heart-breaker. That Padres team had Graig Nettles, my favorite player. And the Goose. But, in 1988, I rooted for those Dodgers and that Kirk Gibson homer is one of my favorite baseball memories.
So, yes, we can root for whom we wish, when we wish, and however we wish. No one can tell us how to root and who to root for. If the football Giants are in the playoffs, I'll root for them. The Jets too. It's also no secret that Ethan and I root for Tom Brady. And Aaron Rogers. It's fun seeing great players doing amazing things.
And I'm rooting for Buck Showalter. Let's go Buck! Let's Go Mets!
Buck Showalter is an excellent manager? Absolutely. His track record is impressive. He has had success with every team he has managed. The 2021 Mets were an under .500 club. This year's Mets won over 100 games. And they did that with their two best starting pitchers missing much of the season. That's some turnaround.
Do I believe that Buck Showalter is a better manager than Aaron Boone? Yes. Absolutely. Might Aaron Boone prove to be a better manager some day than Buck. Sure. Absolutely. But right now, and especially over the 2018-22 period, do I believe Buck would have been a better manager for the Yankees than Boone has been? Yes, absolutely. 100%.
Let's look at Showalter's career - Buck took a Yankees team that had finished below .500 for four seasons in a row and made them winners within two years. He was the manager of the team that brought the Yankees back. He started this great run of over .500 seasons that the Yankees are still enjoying. It all began with Buck. He was then the man who built the Diamondbacks and within two years had them winning 100 games. Buck's record with the Rangers wasn't quite as good, but, again, within two seasons, he had them on the verge of the playoffs finishing just three games out with 89 wins... a team that had also been in a losing cycle. Next, within three years, he took the lowly Orioles and they won 90 games and became a contender. And now he managed the Mets to a 101 win season. Only one Mets team, ever, won more games than Buck's 2022 Mets. Yeah, that's a pretty good track record across multiple franchises and for numerous decades and in many different situations.
Has Buck been able to get a team to the World Series? No. That's the big thing missing from his resume. He needs that to enhance his legacy. He needs it just as Joe Torre did. And Casey Stengel did. Bobby Cox didn't win a World Series until his 15th season as a manager. I have read, a lot, that Dusty Baker should go in the Hall of Fame as a manager. He's never won a World Series... in 25 seasons as a manager.
Buck Showalter has managed in a variety of cities in very different circumstances and has been able to get every team he managed to be successful and to be contenders. Aaron Boone might be a good manager. He might be great. But, Aaron Boone was given a team that was one win away from a World Series and he hasn't gotten them there. Not yet. (Maybe this year!) Aaron Boone has a team that spends a ton of money and has always had a strong core and he hasn't (yet) gotten them to the big show. When Boone's career is over, we'll one day look back at all the teams he managed and will be able to see how he did with the different circumstances he faced. Time will tell. But until he has had success in a variety of circumstances and with a variety of teams, he can't be considered to have had as successful a career as Buck Showalter. Maybe someday, but not yet.
All that being said, the 2022 Yankees were on the verge of collapse. They almost blew it. But they didn't. Aaron Boone deserves credit, GREAT credit, for that. The team stayed together. There was no controversy. They turned it around. Aaron Boone deserves a TON of credit for that. In the team's most dire moments of 2022, Aaron Boone kept the ship sailing and he righted the course. He did well. Very well.
Boone's regular season success with the Yankees: 2 first place finishes, 3 second place finishes - is excellent. That can't be argued away. He was given an excellent team, and he's kept them winning. That, in and of itself is noteworthy.
But, he hasn't gotten them to the World Series. In that regard, because he was brought in to get the Yankees there, that was the point, he has not been successful. The Yankees brought in Boone because he was supposed to get the team to that next level. He hasn't fulfilled that yet.
You could argue that Aaron Boone was brought into a No Win situation - it was World Series or failure. That's a true and fair point. But, Joe Girardi was basically put in that role and he got them there. Joe Torre too. And Ralph Houk. And even Joe McCarthy. They all got the Yankees there. It's now Boone's time.
I mentioned on the Mac and Jack Show on Saturday morning that the Rays were done. I had a sense they'd lose quickly. Their moment came when they got within two games of the Yankees in September, when the Yankees were on the verge of collapse, and then they lost two games allowing 10 runs in each. After that, they couldn't get on track.
The Blue Jays also had plenty of chances to catch the Yankees and couldn't do it. I was surprised they lost the Wild Card series in two games - especially the way they blew it last night.
I am glad the Jays and the Rays are out of it. Do I believe the Guardians or the Mariners are easier opponents? No way. Every team frightens me in the post season.
It's interesting that everyone says how great the AL East is and yet all the AL East teams (except the Yankees) are out. Two NL East teams are in the next round. And two AL West teams.
I just noted that every team in the post season scares me...
The Guardians have been a better team than the Yankees in the second half of 2022. In fact, EVERY TEAM still in the post season has been better than the Yankees in the second half.
Dodgers: 51-21 (.708)
Astros: 47-24 (.662)
Braves: 45-23 (.662)
Guardians: 46-26 (.639)
Mets: 43-25 (.623)
Mariners: 39-30 (.565)
Padres: 37-31 (.544)
Phillies: 38-32 (.543)
Yankees: 35-35 (.500)
The September stats are a bit more encouraging...
Guardians : 21-8 (.724)
Astros: 18-8 (.692)
Braves: 18-8 (.692)
Yankees: 17-8 (.680)
Dodgers: 19-9 (.679)
Mets: 15-11 (.577)
Mariners: 14-12 (.538)
Padres: 13-12 (.520)
Phillies: 11-14 (.440)
This is why they play the games and why we watch. It'll be fun. (Unless the Yankees lose... that's not fun.)
Give credit to the Mets as well. They are the only team in the Wild Card round to face elimination and win. Every other team lost in two games. That says something.
It's Playoff Time!
Let's Go Yankees!!!!!