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.