Monday, September 19, 2011

So Where Do The Yankees Fit Into This?

First, congratulations to Mariano Rivera for becoming baseball's all-time saves leader. I said everything that needed to be said about that last week. Now I'll just add that it is fitting that the best closer ever - and one of the best pitchers ever - has the most saves ever. It's a nice touch that he reached this milestone in the same season that Jeter got 3,000 hits. Two amazing career achievements for two amazing careers that highlight both their longevity and ability to consistently compete at an elite level over the course of all of those years.

Much of the talk lately has been about the Red Sox and Tampa Bay, and rightfully so. The Red Sox were able to hold off Baltimore tonight, and in doing so kept their streak alive of not winning a game since August 27 where they scored less than nine runs (which is incredible on a few different levels). It also kept the Yankees' magic number at 5 for the AL East and 4 for the Wild Card with 10 games to play. The Yankees' play an interesting piece in this, not only because they too are competing for a playoff spot, but because they play Tampa for 7 and Boston for 3 to end the season. Not only do they have control of their own destiny, they are also going to have a lot of impact on the Sox and Rays destiny as well.

First things first, the Yankees need to play to lock up a playoff spot and win the division. It's business as usual unless they are able to do those things. As we've seen many times in recent years, you don't have a playoff spot until you have a playoff spot, no matter how good it might look. There have been teams in far more commanding positions than the Yankees now to miss the playoffs in recent years. So nothing is near a give on that front yet. In addition, home field always matters to me.

Beyond their own obvious interests, though, how do they factor into these last 10 games for the Sox and Rays? It could become an interesting question. If they are able to lock up a playoff spot and the division at some point before this weekend is over, do they play next week in their last three games against the Rays? That's a time you'd typically be resting guys, and it might only be more so if they have a chance to keep Boston out by rolling over for Tampa.

On that point, I'm of the mind that I want Boston out. I don't care that Boston isn't playing well. And I don't care that Tampa could very well run right over the Yankees in a potential playoff series too. Streaky teams with talent like the Red Sox are dangerous, perhaps especially when they are able to survive stuff like what they are going through now. It's like they have a new life, they stop pressing because the pressure of collapsing is off, and they play with a chip on their shoulder nothing to lose attitude. They play in that funky park where they score runs at will it seems, and I just don't want anything to do with them.

It's moot for now, because the Yankees aren't in the playoffs yet and are not guaranteed to get there by any stretch. The Red Sox are proof of that right in front of them. But if they are able to get in, the Rays should see Scranton Wilkes-Barre's best next week. Outside of lining up the pitching rotation, I see no reason for that not to be the case. Get people some rest, and keep the more dangerous baseball team off the dancefloor at the same time. Hopefully the Yankees will have that luxury, and if not, they key is to just make sure they get in themselves. Take advantage and play good baseball to close out the season.


the gm at work said...

I agree about getting rid of the more dangerous team. Which is obviously the Best Team Ever. Another excerpt from Eric Ortiz, specifically regarding your August 27th stat:

"Yet one run is all it might take to win a game on some days with the starting staff the Red Sox have assembled.

Lester is a Cy Young winner waiting to happen. Beckett will notch more than six victories. Lackey should be better equipped to avoid the one-bad-inning syndrome. Buchholz has become a force. And Dice-K might be the best No. 5 starter ever. The Japanese right-hander is the only pitcher in the rotation who’s never been an All-Star, but this could be the year he ends that streak.

Every Red Sox starting pitcher has something to prove. While the Phillies might be the popular choice as the best rotation in baseball, don’t be surprised if people are singing a different tune come October."

Ross Kaplan said...

Even with their recent struggles, I'm still petrified of facing Boston in the playoffs.

With CC's recent strugggles it's even more unbelievable that the Yankees are in the they're in. It's the second to last week of the season and Bartolo Colon might very well be their best option to start Game 2. This team seems destined to be swept if they can't get the bats going in Game 1, I'd just prefer getting swept by the Rangers, Tigers or the Rays than by the Red Sox.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely ross. Boston is 11-4 against nyy. If we get in, we want them out. Issue is, we aren't in yet, and our only remaining games are against the teams chasing us. We have to play well and win games to get in.

- pf