I look at the Yankees’ performance recently and can’t help but think back to the spring before high school graduation.
The upper school director of my fancy Manhattan private school gathered the entire senior class in the cafeteria after morning assembly. His eyes were bulging and veins in his forehead throbbing, and he hadn’t even said a word yet. We knew that he wasn’t happy.
“All of you have senioritis, and it’s not OK,” he bellowed. “Your academic performance is unacceptable and you all need to get serious,” he continued before discontinuing the planned senior cut Day to Six Flags (booooo).
Think of that term: senioritis. You know it well, probably even had it at some point. Think of the last third of your final year of high school. Everyone has picked their college or otherwise made plans for after graduation. Nobody’s thinking about grades, let along risking their admission being rescinded. It’s just about running out the clock.
Now, match that feeling up with what we’ve recently seen of the Yankees. It doesn’t matter that they still have the best record in baseball and a 14-game lead in the division. Forget Tuesday’s walk-off win via wild pitch against the Reds.
Rather, think of how the Yankees’ pitching has proven human with Luis Severino’s latest shoulder injury. The usually.automatic Clay Holmes is getting tired and not as sharp with his command, just like his teammate Nestor Cortes. On the hitting side, Aaron Judge is batting .174 since June 24 and no longer a lock for MVP.
Not to mention, the Yankees are 5-5 in their last ten games.
Maybe it’s the impending All-Star break. Perhaps the non-All-Star players’ anticipation of time off is setting in along with the fatigue. It could even be the weather as the city heads into the soupy high humidity season. Looking through the last few Yankees seasons, this could just be the annual midsummer slump.
One way or another, it’s easy to look at this Yankees squad and see a little senioritis. This is a team that’s very confident and knows it can win, but is in cruise control a bit too early. If so, then we have a bigger problem.
First, the Astros are still winning the season series 3-2 and New York opens the second half with a doubleheader in Houston. Then, the Yankees visit the surging and suddenly above-.500 Orioles for three games before heading to Queens for the first half of the Subway Series with the Mets.
There is even an important series right before the All-Star Break. The same Red Sox who stole two wins from the Yankees in Boston last weekend come to the Bronx on Friday. Oh, and how about Thursday’s rubber game with the last-place Reds?
The World Series, let alone the postseason, are still a long way off. The Yankees have won nothing except the 62 games in their win column thus far. The sloppy performance in the past week proves that 28th championship won’t come to New York on a silver platter.
Instead, the Yankees need to make like my senior class with a simple approach. Refocus, reset, and finish the year strong. And, of course, take an unsanctioned trip to Six Flags the very next day.