New York Yankees Continue to Slide; Playoffs in Jeopardy

I’ve been spoiled as a Yankee fan, there’s no doubt about it.  During the course of my fandom (I started following baseball 20 years ago) the Yankees have reached the postseason 17 times, making a World Series birth 7 times, and capturing 5 championships.  Those numbers are staggering when you sit back and think about it.  Over 20 years of being a die-hard baseball fan, I’ve watched my team in the postseason 17 out of those 20 years; it’s truly remarkable.

This season, the Yankees have looked promising and have a great chance of making the playoffs for the first time since 2012.  Currently, the team is sitting in 2nd place in the AL East behind the surging Toronto Blue Jays while maintaining a 4 game lead in the Wild Card.  There have been moments this season where they’ve looked like the second best team in the majors (St Louis is by far the best team in baseball), and now they’re playing worse than some AA ball clubs.

The most frustrating part of this team’s downward spiral is that pitching [for the first time in 5 years] isn’t the issue, it’s the offense.  If you ask any Yankee fan, they’ll tell you that pitching was by far the biggest question mark for this team heading into the season.  This year, despite injuries, the starting pitching has been fairly decent and the bullpen has been brilliant.  The offense on the other hand, has been uncharacteristically inconsistent and there’s no definitive answer as to why.

Gone are the Yankees of old led by the core four of Jeter, Posada, Rivera, and Pettitte; the former champions who used to feast on the opposition this time of year.  Now the team is led by Gardner, Ellsbury, and Rodriguez; none of whom are showing the leadership qualities a championship team needs.  Both Rodriguez and Gardner are on cold streaks and Ellsbury has found himself out of the lineup with a hip injury.  At least one of those three players needs to assert themselves as a leader if the team has any hope of ending this skid.

If the Yankees can finish out the rest of the regular season strong and make the playoffs, I believe that they have has as good a chance as anyone in the American League.  With that said, they need to get healthy and start hitting before they dig themselves into too deep of a hole.  Toronto is playing like gangbusters right now and if the Yankees aren’t careful, they’re going to lose that 4 game cushion for the wild card.

It’s going to be a rough winter for Yankee fans if this team misses the playoffs after showing flashes of brilliance throughout the season.  Hopefully the players can band together like the great Yankee teams before them, and put together another exciting postseason run.

RGIII Needs a Permanent Mute Button

Robert Griffin III really needs to learn to do himself a favor and just stop talking.  For a “smart” guy, he certainly puts himself in more compromising situations than Donald Trump.  As a football fan, I could care less about what he has to say to begin with, but I find it insulting (and irritating) that he continues to try and put himself in the elite quarterback conversation.

Rather than taking responsibility for his actions, Griffin always seems to find someone else to blame.  It doesn’t help that there are still some in the media (although many are beginning to turn on him) who are trying to find ways to defend his actions.  My new favorite line from the Griffin camp is, “he can’t succeed in Washington because the coach doesn’t like him.”  I’m sorry, but isn’t he on his second coach?  He pushed Shanahan out the door because the [former] coach didn’t like him; and now Gruden (who’s entering his second year) is to blame for his poor performance because he also isn’t a fan.  Call me crazy, but there seems to a common denominator here.

Instead of trying to prove that he’s a better quarterback on the field, Griffin would rather run his mouth and claim that his words were taken out of context.  The ego on this kid is truly unbelievable, especially since he hasn’t done anything in his career to back it up.  He’s won a grand total of 5 games over the past two seasons and continues to find himself on the sideline because of injury.   If you can’t keep yourself healthy or win games, where the hell do you get off declaring yourself as the best quarterback in the game?

Robert Griffin III, who isn’t even the best quarterback on his own team, continues to run his mouth as if he deserves to be considered one of the best in the game.  Regardless of what his supporters say, Griffin won’t succeed in Washington (or on any other team) but it’s not because his coach doesn’t like him, it’s because he’s not very good.  Until he wakes up and realizes that he’s his own worst nightmare, ‘his’ team will continue to suffer and Griffin will never live up to the hype [that he created].

**One quick aside:  To all those who declared that Griffin would be a superior quarterback to Andrew Luck should be ashamed of themselves.  Injuries aside, Griffin will never come close to the player or leader that Luck is.  The debate that the writers had regarding them before their draft, will be held in the same light as the Peyton Manning/Ryan Leaf debate from the late 90’sBoth Luck and Manning have not only come out on top, but have made those who doubted looking foolish in the process.    

Geno Smith’s Career is as Fractured as his Jaw

The New York Jets have owned the headlines this week and once again it’s for all the wrong reasons.  Quarterback Geno Smith was “sucker-punched” by sixth round pick IK Enemkpail in the locker room Tuesday over a financial dispute.  The Jets released a statement saying that Smith would be out 6-10 weeks and that they released Enemkpail.

The Jets making headlines is nothing new, but this incident being considered as “breaking news” all over social media and sports talk shows is a bit of a stretch.

First off, Smith isn’t a good quarterback.  Last season he had the lowest QBR in the league and won only 4 games.  In his first two seasons as the starter for the Jets, he’s thrown for 5,571 yards, 25 TD’s to 34 INTS, and has completed a paltry 57.5% of his passes.  Those stats are pathetic and are numbers most would expect to see from a second or third stringer, not a starter.

Secondly, there was no guarantee that Smith was even going to be the starter heading into the season.  The fans sure as hell didn’t want him to be; they’ve been booing him since training camp started.  Let’s face it, you have to be pretty awful for the fans to boo you in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick.

If this incident happened at any other team’s training camp, would it really be considered “breaking news”?  No, it wouldn’t.  It’s making headlines because once again, the Jets are proving to be one of the most dysfunctional franchises in the NFL.  While other teams’ front office personnel are looking to make moves and draft players that will help their franchise succeed, the Jets front office are always looking to find ways to make headlines (hence the drafting of Geno Smith).  The Jets as a franchise are an abomination and I truly feel bad for their fans; once again their season has ended before it even began.

As dumb as it was for Enemkpail to punch Smith in face, I think this entire incident is more damning to Smith’s reputation then Enemkpail’s.  It says a lot about Smith’s leadership and standing in the locker room for a sixth round pick (who was on the verge of not making the roster before the incident) to feel comfortable enough to punch him in the face.  It says even more that none of his teammates came to his defense.  He shouldn’t be the starting quarterback and sure as hell shouldn’t be considered a franchise quarterback.  If he was truly “the franchise” he wouldn’t have put himself in the position to get KO’d by a teammate.

Believe it or not, this episode could end up being a blessing in disguise for the Jets.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I believe that the team would benefit greatly with Fitzpatrick as the starter over Smith.  Fitzpatrick’s a veteran with limited success however; he’s always gained the respect of the locker room with every team he’s played for.  With Smith behind center the Jets never had a shot to make the playoffs; Fitzpatrick will at least give them a fighting chance.