Second Place Perspectives
The Yankees will now battle to be the Best Second Place Team in the American League…
The first two wins against the Red Sox felt great. Giancarlo Stanton’s Grand Slam last night felt great. But the Yankees couldn’t hold on and win the game. That didn’t feel so good.
I thought the on field celebration for the Red Sox would have had a little more enthusiasm last night. After all, they clinched the AL East Division at Yankee Stadium. I was waiting for some real jubilation from them. But, instead, they just took this as somewhat routine. Then I realized, for them, it is routine. This was their third consecutive AL East crown. I guess the Red Sox just took it in stride… like the Yankees used to when they were the class of the division year-in-and-year-out.
I miss the days when the Yankees were the best team in the division year-in-and-year-out.
The Yankees will earn a trip to their seventh Wild Card Game. In the six previous games, they are 5-1. (The magic number to clinch is just three.)
The Yankees now have to focus on the Wild Card Game itself. They have ten games remaining in the season and a two game lead on the A’s in the loss column. If they don’t secure home field advantage, that would be a problem. A big problem. The Yankees will be playing against the Orioles, Rays, and the Red Sox – none of whom have anything to play for. The Yankees should be doing a lot of winning over this last week of the season.
Often times commentators write the story (better said, they create the story) after the events happen. If the Yankees end up winning the Wild Card Game, and storm through the playoffs, we will hear from the manager and players that they were confident throughout and never pushed the panic button. We’ll hear that this team was too good to lose. They will say, “We knew we’d come though when it mattered the most.” We’ll hear a lot of that. Along those lines, twenty four hours ago, we were hearing a lot of, “The Yankees are now winning just because Aaron Judge is back.” We were told just his presence on the bench or in the line-up changes everything. Boy, do I want that to be true. The truth is, the Yankees are 3-3 since he was activated from the Disabled List. That’s not a knock on Judge, it’s more stating the reality – one player does not make a team. As much as we want him to be, Aaron Judge is not Superman. I wish it were differently, but it’s not.
Thus far in September, as the Yankees battle for home field, they are 8-9. This just isn’t inspiring. Since August 27, they are 10-12.
Masahiro Tanaka’s performance last night will now make many question if he should be the starter in the Wild Card Game. I still think he is the Yankees’ best choice to start that all-important game.
This winter we will have the opportunity to talk a lot about the Yankees manager. A lot of that talk will be centered around what happens over the next few weeks. Again, if the Yankees get hot and play deep into the post season, Aaron Boone will be considered a genius. I hope this happens, but time will tell…
Let’s Go Yankees…