Too Little Too Late, But Yankees Are At Least Closing Well
By Sal Maiorana
September 18, 2023
Sal Maiorana, a friend of the site, will be sharing some of his thoughts on the Yankees here on SSTN.
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Wouldn’t it have been nice if the Yankees had played like this for most of the year? They went down to Pittsburgh and won their fifth series in their last six, and they have won 14 of their last 20 games which is the best mark in baseball in that stretch, if you can believe that. That’s even better than the best team in MLB, the Braves.
Now, it must be said that the Yankees have been in a soft part of their schedule. Four of the series victories have come against the Tigers (two), the Red Sox and the Pirates. There was the one great sweep against the Astros, and the only other playoff-bound team they faced was the Brewers, and that’s the one series loss. But hey, you play who’s on your schedule, right? And if you remember, their struggles with non-playoff teams throughout the year are a big reason why they won’t be going to the postseason, so for this team, any win is a good win.
Also, I’ll recognize that there’s far less pressure for the players when you’re in the position the Yankees put themselves in with all their terrible play in the first five months of the season. Even though they continue to pretend that they’re still in the wild-card chase, we all know they aren’t as they sit 6.5 games out with 12 left to play, so for the most part the pressure is off them.
You can play much freer when every at bat or pitch thrown isn’t a critical situation amidst playoff-chasing anxiety and we’re seeing that play out in these September games.
Still, all that said, it’s been good to see the Yankees show a pulse because there are certainly teams out there who would have completely tanked the rest of the season once it became obvious a playoff berth wasn’t happening.
The two goals they now hope to achieve are both in reach: To avoid finishing in last place in the AL East, something they have done just once (1990) since divisional play began in 1969, and finish above .500, something they’ve done every year since 1992. That’s the second-longest streak in MLB history, topped only by the Yankees’ incredible 39 in a row from 1926-64.
Oswaldo Cabrera has hit better lately, and he helped the Yankees take two of three from the Pirates.
As I’ve written in the newsletter before, I’m not really rooting for those things to happen, solely because I don’t want Hal Steinbrenner to put too much stock in what has happened this month. The Yankees need change, significant change, and I feel like tone deaf Hal will look at this nice stretch the Yankees have had and mistakenly believe that things will be OK in 2024 if the team has fewer injuries, and its so-called stars bounce back and have more representative seasons.
If the Yankees find their way back to last place and under .500, Steinbrenner would have nothing to lean on with the fan base which will be screaming for change, starting with Aaron Boone being given a one-way ticket back to the ESPN broadcast booth.