As the collapse continues, the New York Yankees need to stop wondering what’s wrong and just play baseball.
This New York Yankees season has been an absolute embarrassment.
Why sugarcoat it? Anyone who’s followed the team closely can see this is the most disappointing season in recent memory. What good is a Top 5 pitching staff in the league when its offense offers little to no support? What World Series contender ranks 23rd in batting average and 19th in runs scored? And in mid-September at that?
In case it wasn’t obvious, the Yankees’ struggles continue after a 13-game winning streak that seems 10 years old already. The “Bronx Bombers” are 4-12 since that high point. They have fallen from second in the AL East and within reach of the division crown to fourth place. As I write this, they still sit a half-game out of the Wild Card after leading the pack for weeks.
18 games remain and nothing is certain. Even after Monday’s walk-off comeback win over the Minnesota Twins leaves the future looking bleak.
Forget the playoffs, the offseason, Aaron Boone’s future as manager, everything. Maybe it’s time for the New York Yankees to stop worrying about what isn’t working and just play some baseball.
Take advantage of a light schedule
There is one beacon of hope for the Yankees in the season’s latter days. Every single one of their remaining games is winnable. DJ LeMahieu’s already called this team the streakiest in baseball. No better time than now to fire off another big one of, say, the winning variety?
New York gets an immediate opportunity with three games in Baltimore. The Orioles are tanking, but the Yankees only lead the season series 9-7. Earlier this month, Baltimore took two out of three in the Bronx. What better time than now for a revenge sweep in the Charm City?
Then, New York returns home for three against the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe are second in the AL Central, but don’t expect a Jobu-fueled run complete with a cheesy ’80s soundtrack. For all intents and purposes, Cleveland is out of the playoff race. Three at home against the last-place Texas Rangers continues the soft streak.
But then it gets real. Three likely must-wins with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway. Three in Toronto with the same Blue Jays who swept New York at home so badly in four games, that the Yankees never once held a lead. Closing the season with three at home with the Rays.
All winnable games, but that’s up to the New York Yankees.
Why are we dwelling on the schedule?
Now that we’ve done our mini deep dive on the rest of the schedule, let’s finally get down to real business. As in the real point of this week’s State of the New York Yankees.
Think about this season, so far, in its entirety. Go all the way back to Opening Day. Even then, against the same Blue Jays who just overtook them in the Wild Card, the offense has never seemed right. The aforementioned rankings tell us all we need to know in that department.
But win or lose, there’s been something different about these New York Yankees as of late. Ever since the comeback win against the crosstown rival New York Mets on 9/11, the team’s had a bit of swagger. As in, they actually look like they’re having fun for the first time since the winning streak.
Sunday was primed to be another comeback win and even had some epic trash-talk, but Francisco Lindor decided to take it personally. Monday saw a 6-5 win in extra innings after trailing 5-0.
With this kind of energy, the New York Yankees can get back to their winning ways and close the season strong.
That is, the Yankees can achieve this if they stop worrying about the cold streaks and just play the game. After Saturday’s win, pitcher Corey Kluber spoke with the media and discussed a recent team meeting. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com summed it up best.
Corey Kluber: "We talked about it after the game last night, that we were maybe pressing or trying to do too much. … A couple of guys spoke. A few guys had some things they wanted to say." #YankeesZoomRoom pic.twitter.com/4zwHHiG6C8
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) September 12, 2021
Ugly as the Yankees have looked the past few games, it’s clear there’s a fight in this team. In fact, since Saturday, it’s hard to say New York has ever been truly out of a game. Two comeback wins and one loss that’s really just on account of a severe attack of Lindoritis.
Everything is set up for one more run to close the season. Don’t worry about the playoff race. Just go out on the field and play the game. Have the fun that’s been missing all season. Remember that you’re the New York Yankees and that it’s a name to be respected.
This is the greatest sport in the world and everyone’s lucky to be a part of it, be it on the field or in the stands. The Yankees need to embrace this regardless of October.
Reset. Focus. Remember how to win. In the words of Lemmy, it’s time to play the game.
Now get out there and bring it home.