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“This can’t happen again,” said captain Aaron Judge about his and his New York Yankees teammates’ response to the incredibly disappointing 82-80 finish in 2023. Another championship-promised season up in flames, and without even the dignity of a single playoff game.

All signs pointed to 2024 being different. Juan Soto’s added protection would boost a lineup that all too often struggled to score at all last year. It is now July 8, the Yankees are 55-37, and own the top American League Wild Card spot by +4.5 games.

Except it is indeed happening again.

The Yankees’ last three weeks have been an absolute slog, and they’ve literally been MLB’s worst team over this stretch. Naturally, fan frustrations are high again as New York endures this bad a stretch for what seems like every year under manager Aaron Boone. We’re not even at the All-Star Break and I, who am supposed to be Switzerland in all of this, am starting to wonder if the Yankees will ever win a series again this year.

Look, I get it. A baseball season has its ebbs and flows. We discussed exactly this recently, right when the Yankees’ pitching started regressing to the worst side of the mean. There are going to be days when the pitching doesn’t show up, sometimes the hitting, and sometimes both. That’s baseball.

But right now? The Yankees are a special kind of bad. Every year, this lineup is sold as a sort of Murderers’ Row in the making, one built to slug home run after home run.

They’ve barely batted above .200 over this 5-16 streak.

Losing a revitalized Giancarlo Stanton to a strained hamstring didn’t help, but we see the names on the roster. They should be performing better than this and are indeed capable. Yet, instead of locking in, staying focused, and letting the game decide the hero? Everyone seems all too happy to fix the offense in a hurry and take bad swings on the off-chance that they’ll have their highlight moment.

And taking bad swings leads to missing pitches clean in the zone. See how there might be a pattern with the Yankees here, especially when one or both of Judge and Stanton are injured?

We have been in denial for far too long, and that includes general manager Brian Cashman. The Yankee Way works. Literally every team builds rosters based off of Gene Michael’s OBP-driven philosophy.

It seems that Cashman can do literally everything required of him except figure out the why of so many hitting prospects struggling in the majors. Aaron Judge is the only real bonafide star borne out of New York’s farm system in recent memory.

And star shortstop of the future Anthony Volpe? He’s streaky and can’t be trusted to work strong at-bats consistently. Same with Gleyber Torres, who’ll probably be traded for dinner at Tao unless he starts running hot.

Read my lips: The New York Yankees just aren’t that good.

The upcoming week is crucial for the Bronx Bombers, with two road series running through Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Nobody wants to say it, but this week all but certainly decides the AL East. The Yankees need to make the most of every game and put it nothing but maximum effort. No taking plays off or half-assing groundballs.

But would we count on it? No, so let me repeat myself:

Maybe the New York Yankees just aren’t that good.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.