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The Upcoming Battle with Toronto

by Cary Greene

September 28, 2021

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Earlier today, I gave a shorter answer to the Tuesday Discussion question.

Here is my more detailed response…

Difficulty Involved in Predicting the Yankees Right Now: With a team as inconsistent as the 2021 Yankees have been, it feels like anything and everything can happen. This team has left it’s fan base moonstruck. We’re delirious for the eighth inning to begin, we’re bananas for the “Jumbo Package,” and all we really know is that we’ll be tuning in for this most likely tumultuous series and end of the season spectacular.

Meanwhile, Toronto is 18-7 during the month of September, they have been playing a dandy brand of baseball and we remember all too well what happened the last time these two teams met. In a crucial four game series, Toronto swept the Yankees in the Bronx, in dominating fashion in a series in which the Yankees never even had a single lead.

But here we are. The Yankees are blazing away like a 60’s homecoming pep-rally bonfire and have reeled off six straight wins, yet, even with that, for the month of September, they are only 12-11. Juxtapose this against what the Blue Jays have been up to, aside from a single loss back on September 10th to Baltimore, the Jays have only lost single games to the Rays and the Twins.

How can anyone possibly predict the Yankees right now?

The Battle to Come: We’re looking at what could shape up similarly to the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, which was Canada’s bloodiest battle of all-time and in which the American’s failed to dislodge the Canadians from their positions. If either team sweeps, that team’s chances to make the one game Wild-Card probably suffer the effects of the broom and are whisked away into the “dust pan of despair,” to most likely be thrown into the season ending trash heap. Make no mistake, Toronto will be dug in, they’re going to fight tooth and nail in this series.

Squandered Opportunities: The Blue Jays who are 10-6 against the Yankees this season but are only 3-3 in their last six games. The Jays have implausibly trifled away the Wild-Card lead over the Yankees that they were basking in only last Wednesday. The Yankees meanwhile just plain atomized away the separation they had created with their mid-August 13 game winning streak. It didn’t have to come down to this for either team, but here we are!

The Tao of Pooh: I’ve cogitated and ruminated the trajectory of this three game series and drawn a most ineluctable sequitur, despite knowing that the Yankees don’t match up well with the Toronto offense at all. I’ve had to admit that I just can’t predict the 2021 New York Yankees.

Therefore, I had to turn to the Tao of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh to arrive at some sort of definitive verdict to offer our loyal readers, who all flashed before my mind as I struggled – Fuster, Professor, Phil, Mike, Longtimefan, Brooks, OB and Hammer. I’ve decided just to put my Yankee hat on and watch these near must watch games, while not underestimating the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things I can’t hear and not bothering!

If the Yankees get blown out tomorrow night in game one against Hyun Jin Ryu and the Blue Jays, I won’t be panic-stricken. I might opine how I once wanted the Yankees to sign Ryu because I thought it would be nice to have a left-handed ground ball pitcher starting games in the Bronx, but that was before Cashman got his white whale and finally managed to sign Gerrit Cole. It was also after Zack Wheeler came off the table during that fateful mid-December 2019 offseason. I had wanted Wheeler AND Cole! It turned out to be very unrealistic of me to want both pitchers, but it was before I realized the cold, hard reality of Hal-ism.

*Defenition of Hal-ism: A social, political and economic approach named after Hal Steinbrenner. It examines the effect of labor on the number of World Series a team wins while suggesting big-market fans will be content with the act of fielding a winning team that could win or might win it all but never does.

The philosophy uses analytics designed around right-handed hitters and pitchers that play 82 games a year in a stadium that is far more suited for left-handed players and places a value on home runs and strikeouts only, while deliberately not considering defense, speed on the base paths, or pitching to contact. Halism frowns upon the act of enabling a manager to field a balanced lineup so that he might create favorable situational matchups. It also frowns upon creating a high-performance culture where performing players are promoted and developed and instead prefers to plod along until….(I’m sure you get the point!)

Reality Suggests: Granted, the Toronto offense has only been shut out three times all season. No doubt the young Toronto core is fired up, this is their big chance after all to bull-rush into the playoffs and like the Yankees, they do control their own destiny. Vlad Guerrero is an ominous northern thunder cloud, waiting in the dark Canadian sky and yes, Toronto has been by far the better overall team as the season is in the process of winding down.

Another series sweep of the Yankees would put the Jays a game up on the Yankees. From there, they close out the season with a perspicuous, unambiguously resounding three-game-set in Baltimore and the chances are high that they’d finish in grand style and make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have to host the dreaded Rays to close out their season, who they are only a caliginously tenebrific 7-9 against this season.

All Dressed Up and Want to be in the Show: With the steal of the July 31st MLB Trade Deadline, the Jays have put a sharkskin tuxedo on their rotation when, as if he’s writing some magical story in the mold of Giambattista Basile, Toronto GM Ross Atkins traded for Jose Berrios. This has given the Blue Jays a deep rotation, reminiscent of the days of Juan Guzman, Al Leiter, Pat Hentgen, Todd Stottlemyre and Dave Stewart! Of course, this team has yet to win anything yet, but they do seem to bash their way to victory more often than not and the pitching is now much more of a sticky wicket for opposing hitters.

While I can’t confirm if Atkins has been in contact with a secret intercessor of a Fairy Godmother who has somehow given the Blue Jays front office some clarity on how to build a rotation, effulgently turning on their light bulbs, he appears to have magically built a rotation where only pumpkins existed before, pumpkins that had for decades been unable to habilitate and transform into a stage-coach capable of getting the Blue Jays into the postseason. I do like how the Rays have lined up their rotation for this series – leading with Ryu, followed by Berrios, and then Ray. No doubt the Blue Jays are exceptionally well positioned, but I’m going along, listening to all the things I can’t hear and not bothering.

Oh, I know Our friend George Springer is also now hitting leadoff for the Jays and so yes, they now have a true big-game superstar to lead the young core on a postseason charge and yes, I know that Vlad Junior is also having a season that puts him in the company of the all time greats. Oh and of course Bo Bichette has become a Yankee killer. On and on it goes. Ho-hum.

But I’m Betting: Only because Paul made us try to predict what would happen, because really I can’t begin to predict this Yankees team, I’m betting that at the stroke of midnight, some time in the eighth or ninth inning, the glass slipper falls off the Blue Jays bullpen and that they come untwined. I’m betting that the Yankees strike in the clutch, dazzling Yankee fans everywhere and beginning the script that leads to a championship that will go down for the ages, one as unlikely as it is unprecedented!

The 2017 NL MVP and the X-Factors: Meanwhile, Giancarlo Stanton is suddenly playing like the 2017 MVP of the National League. His amazing production couldn’t have come at a better time for the Yankees, he’s hitting .299 with 9 bombs and 22 RBI’s for the month of September. He’s found another gear, one few players in all of baseball can now match. He’s a wrecking ball. He’s pounding mistakes into the starry night skies.

The Yankees have set their rotation for the series also, choosing to open with Taillon, then Cole, followed by Kluber. They may fare well, they may not. The Yankee rotation has been wildly inconsistent this month. If each man shows up and manages to deliver, then suddenly the Yankees are in every game and they feature a much bolstered bullpen. Imagine trading, during the month of September, for a lockdown All-Star reliever who can go multiple innings. That’s what getting this iteration of Luis Severino represents.

Truly, we didn’t know what to expect with Severino. How could anyone come back this strong after missing more than 700 days in a row? But he’s throwing 98 on the black and he’s literally lunging into his pitches with ferocity. He looks terrific.

Lucas Leutge and Chad Green have also done a fine job recently and the supporting cast has been very solid as well. The Yankees also anticipate the return of Jonathan Loaisiga, who has been the key member of the bullpen this season.

The Yankees are streaking and as I’ve said, I’m just going to watch the games and not listen to all the things I can’t hear. The season has reduced my brain to rubble. Nothing makes any sense right now.

Go Yankees, Go!

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