Yankees Showing Guts
A thrilling Yankees season has come down to the final day today. If the Yankees beat the lousy Red Sox today they will win the AL East and have home field advantage until the World Series. The road they have taken to get to this point may not have been the prettiest road, but you cannot argue with the results. The resiliency the Yankees have shown down the stretch of this season is something you have to feel good about heading into the playoffs.
The Yankees have overcome a lot of tough obstacles to get where they are at this point and deserve credit for that. They still need to finish it off with a win today, but what they have overcome so far makes you think that this may be a tougher team than in years past. Every team has injuries, but the Yankees have had an inordinate amount of key injuries to key players. Their prized offseason acquisition Michael Pineda has never thrown a pitch, the greatest closer in the history of MLB went down early and they lost Brett Gardner for basically the entire year. Those are just the injuries at the beginning of the season. The Yankees lost Andy Pettitte for over two months, Alex Rodriguez for about five weeks and Mark Teixeira for about a month. How many teams can overcome loosing their starting left fielder, two of their middle of their order guys, their closer and one of their best pitchers and still be in position to have the best record in the AL?
The injuries are only part of what the Yankees have had to overcome this season. On July 18th the Yankees were 57-34 and had a 10 game lead in the AL East. It looked like yet another season that they would cruise to the division title, but then something strange happened. The Yankees started to crumble and slowly but surely their lead over the Orioles kept dwindling and dwindling. Between July 18th and September 6th the Yankees went 20-26 and allowed the Orioles to catch them. However, Baltimore never passed them and still haven’t, which is significant. Every time they had a chance to overtake the Yankees they have not allowed it to happen. During that awful stretch the Yankees faced severe pressure that they were able to overcome. If they had completely collapsed, they would have gone down in Yankees history as one of the biggest disappointments ever and big changes would have been made. It was equivalent to playoff pressure.
Instead of crumbling under that pressure, they embraced it and played really resilient baseball. What has seemed like night after night of extremely tense baseball, the Yankees have showed that they are capable of winning those types of games. Last night’s thrilling comeback was not the only example of that. Sunday’s huge comeback from being down 5-1 against Toronto was huge. Also their victory on September 22nd was incredible, as they were down by four heading into the 13th inning and won it in the 14th. Also, ag the beginning of the month they split a four game series with Baltimore, but their two victories came after heartbreaking losses the night before, which once again showed resiliency.
All these tense September moments should remind Yankees fans that making the playoffs is no guarantee. The Yankees’ run of making the playoff in 17 of the last 18 seasons, in a league that is tougher to make the playoffs than in any other sport is incredible. Many people take that for granted, but they really shouldn’t For a team that could finish with the AL’s best record the lack of perspective from some fans at times during the season was scary.
Brian Cashman deserves credit for three huge pickups in Hiroki Kuroda, Raul Ibanez, and Ichiro Suzuki because without those they are not where they are without those three players. If you are going to kill him for moves that haven’t worked out, which you are justified to do for sure, then you must give him credit for the ones that work out.
The fact that the Yankees have had to battle throughout September to get here they are should be a positive in the playoffs. Hopefully they can continue to ride this wave of momentum into the postseason. All the teams in the AL have flaws just like the Yankees, so they can beat any of them, but they can certainly loose to any of them as well. It should make for a crazy October, but if they can continue to play with this resiliency their dreams of a championship are possible.