*The following is a post taken from The Angry Bench Coach, my new blog. Please visit the site there at www.theangrybenchcoach.com.*
The following piece is a column from one of our guest writers, Geoff, who runs the Bleeding Pinstripes. Visit his site and give him the TABC bump.
First let’s get up to speed on where we are.
My thought going into the recent brutal road trip, and even the few
series’ before (Boston, Minnesota, Anaheim, Baltimore) was that the
Yankees season would take shape by the time they got back.
Not good news.
And last week I was screaming
for the Yankees to send Melky down to triple A, as I saw his usefulness
solely as an outfielder and a pinch runner; two roles I felt Brett
Gardiner was better suited for. And I was railing against starting
Richie Sexson against lefties, preferring to see him strictly used as a
pinch hitter. So what happens next? Melky gets demoted, Gardiner is
recalled, and Sexson is waived.
Sounds a bit off. I’m contradicting myself. But the truth is – what do
I know? Nothing. I was the guy screaming for Tony Womack to get more
playing time in ’05; that Robinson Cano was a useless rookie. I was the
guy saying that Posada was going to fade last year and end up at .270.
That David Archuleta was going to get voted off the second week of
American Idol because he was such a drippy little wuss. I shouldn’t be
right. This can’t be good…
So what are the Yanks’ chances? If
you ask me, it always comes down to one key thing. Schedule. It’s huge
before the season even starts. Look at the Yankees. Every year they
play the Angels ten times. And always predominantly on the road. Like
clockwork. It’s a marquee match-up, and the Angels are the one and only
team that have had the Yankees’ number. You think MLB is going to pass
that up? Since the days of the unbalanced schedule, there is only one
team outside of their division that the Yankees have played ten times.
Yup. And it happens almost every year. And it’s not just the Yankees.
The schedule tells a lot of tales before the first pitch on the first
Sunday night. Look at the Mets. Every year they play six brutal games
against the Yankees. They lost the NL East to the Phillies on the last
day of the season last year. Do you think the Phillies still would have
pulled that off if they were forced to play the Yankees six times while
the Mets got to kick around Baltimore and whoever else? How about the
Blue Jays? They were way better than the Cardinals when the final out
was called on the 2006 regular season. Better record, better team, you
name it. They just had the misfortune of being fed to the Yankees and
Red Sox 38 times. So the Jays don’t even approach the playoffs, and the
Cardinals get a shot at upset glory. While we’re at it, the Red Sox
might be the best example. Good enough to win two World Championships
in four years, good enough to elicit whispers of “dynasty?” around the
sports world. Imagine. They’ve only won their own division once in the
last thirteen years. And even that was on the strength of exactly one
swing game with the mighty Yankees. Point is, the schedule is huge. And
it gets more huge as the games get ticked off and teams make moves to
shore themselves up for the stretch run as we hit the last weeks of
So with that said, the theme for the last twenty-three
Yankee games was to simply hang on. This looked to be their most
difficult stretch of the season. Three at Boston, three against
Minnesota, four against LA, three against Baltimore, four at Texas,
three more at LA, and three in Minnesota to close it. Twenty-three
brutal games. And as I said, it didn’t exactly go swimmingly. They were
10-7 in the first 17. Then they needed to grasp and clutch for some
wins while Boston and Tampa played the Royals and Seattle, over and
over. They didn’t. They lost 5 of 6, with the lone win coming in 12
innings. So now they’re a big pile of games behind Boston and a big
pile of games behind Tampa.
So what’s next. Tampa is going to
lose. Probably a lot. Tampa is not a good road team. They’ve been good
lately, but that’s mostly because they’ve played the Royals, the
Mariners, and the recently castrated A’s. They did a great job of
seizing on a bizarre schedule that featured a lopsided number of early
games at home. When they get back East they’re going to lose. They’re
going to lose to the Yankees and they’re going to lose to the Red Sox.
Especially since they’ve been riddled with injuries that aren’t going
to get better. The problem is they’re so far out in front it might not
matter. To the Yankees, anyway. I think the Red Sox are going to catch
them. The Red Sox aren’t going to lose any ground. They don’t play well
on the road either, but they’re a veteran team that has incredible
resilience and knows how to win. They’re loaded with tough outs and
they’re never out of a ballgame. But they’ve also been bitten by
injuries, which is going to keep them from the World Series, but I
think they win the East.
So can the Yankees catch the Rays and
everyone else in front of them for the Wildcard? They could. But it’s
going to be so difficult to make up all that ground. On paper they are
more talented than anybody outside of the Red Sox and the Angels. And
they, too, are a proud veteran team that always seems to find a gear to
get there. I think they need to get Hughes back healthy (I’m not even
going to mention Pavano, because that truly would be hilarious), and
they need to get Joba back healthy. And if they get the Ferocious Lion,
Hideki Matsui, back in any meaningful way, they could make a run. The
schedule includes lots of Boston (always difficult but never scary for
the Yankees this time of year), and three more against the Angels
(0-3). Other than that there are a lot of winnable games against
Bottom line: unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely.
probably looking at the Angels feeding on the hapless National League
to give Mike Scoscia his second piece of Orange County hardware.
Probably. But probably isn’t definitely. That’s why they play the
games, as the old saying goes. What I can say definitely, is that my
boys and I will be waving the flag in section 24 at the Stadium until
the last pitch is thrown. Right until the end.
And we’ll be rooting like hell for the Yankees to win the World Series.