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Gary Armida's Blog
Yankees Endure the 162Posted on September 17, 2012 at 08:44 AM.
Rick Peterson relayed a story to me once about when a reporter asked him about the difference between coaching in New York as opposed to coaching in Oakland. He said, ďIn Oakland, you play a 162 game schedule. In New York, you play 162 one game schedules.Ē
Peterson characterized the New York market quite well. Baseball doesnít lend itself well to the daily talk radio circuit. Sports media requires constant news, reaction, and commentary. With social media playing even more of a role, the immediacy of analysis, however flawed, has taken over as the most important characteristic of a competing news organizations.
But, Major League Baseball isnít setup for that. 162 games allow for almost every team a chance to look incredibly good and incredibly bad. It allows for injuries, but also allows for recoveries in many cases. The Major League Baseball season is not a blog; it is a novel that is written over the course of a six month period. Within the novel of the season, there are ebbs and flows.
Many teams have experienced these fluctuations, but the 2012 New York Yankees epitomize what it means to play through 162 games. At times, they have looked like the most complete team in the sport. At other times, they have looked old. Sometimes a slump or injuries can make a veteran team appear old. The Yankees have experienced both.
On July 18th, the Yankees looked like they were overtaking the Texas Rangers as the favorite to represent the American League in the World Series. They held the largest division lead in the sport--10 games--were finally receiving dominant pitching, and were swatting home runs from practically everywhere in the lineup. They just came off of a 20-7 June and were off to a 10-4 start for July. It seemed like another ho-hum division title for them.
That 162 game season is the great equalizer. The veteran Yankees started to go through their own share of injuries. CC Sabathia, their ace and really only ďgivenĒ in the rotation, went down. Ivan Nova went on the shelf in August. Andy Pettitte was lost after being hit with a line drive. On the hitting side, Alex Rodriguez was down. Mark Teixeira is now battling a calf injury. Derek Jeter, although still playing, has an ankle injury. Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher both slumped. Russell Martin just recently lifted his batting average over the mendoza line.
Though the injuries didnít occur at the same time, the Yankeesí depth was tested. They finished July with just three wins in their final 12 games to finish with a .500 month. They finished August with a 15-13 record. Because of their injuries and the surging Orioles--who treaded water during the first three months--that 10 game lead evaporated. The Orioles caught them. They never went ahead of the Yankees, but they caught them.
Thus far, the Yankees are just 8-7 in September. The record makes them look like a team that is struggling to stay in the race. Because they lost the 10 game lead, the perception is that they choked it away. They didnít choke; their injuries and slumps brought them back to the pack as they are not markedly better than the rest of the American League. And, while that lead was blown, the Yankees have managed to survive. They have managed to maintain their hold of first place in the American League East despite losing three rotation members for a period of time. It is despite losing Alex Rodriguez, who is viewed as a second tier third baseman because he is no longer the 40 home run hitter. It is true that Rodriguez isnít the 40 home run hitter and that Adrian Beltre and a few others have moved ahead of him on the pantheon of the great third basemen. But, Rodriguezís production, even with all of his injuries, is still one of an above average third baseman.
Rodriguez is back. CC Sabathia isnít pitching to his standards and may be pitching hurt, but he is back. Ivan Nova came back over the weekend and touched 96 MPH during his dominant start. Andy Pettitte starts tomorrow. The Yankeesí rotation is finally back in order after handing starts to Freddy Garcia and David Phelps (who actually pitched well). While getting healthier, the Yankees have won five of their last seven games, including the weekend series win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
As the they get healthier, the schedule is also getting healthier. With the exception of a three game home set against the Oakland Aís, the Yankees donít face a team with a winning record in the final weeks of the season. They have seven games remaining with the reeling Blue Jays. While the Yankees are just 7-6 against the Blue Jays, the Blue Jays are merely playing out one of their most disappointing seasons in years. They also have a three game away series against the Minnesota Twins, a team they have always fared well against. The season concludes with a three game set in Fenway.
The old expression in baseball is that the 162 game schedule will allow you to see everything about a team. The Yankees have gone through it all. Whatís lost in their season is that they havenít posted a losing month. Despite their injuries, despite their some of their underperforming stars, despite the age of their roster, and despite some real challenges from both the Orioles and Rays, they enter the final 16 games with a one game lead over a surprising Orioles team that also faces just one team with a winning record for the remainder of the season (season ending series against the Rays), but will be without their leadoff hitter Nick Markakis for the remainder of the year.
While the Orioles are the surprise, the Yankees are where they were generally predicted to be before the season started. They are on pace for over 90 wins, they hold a division lead, and they have enough to be a threat in the playoffs if things break their way. Those facts were lost in August in the daily calls about how the Orioles are much more talented, how Joe Girardi needs to be fired, and how Brian Cashman didnít do enough to improve the roster.
The one game seasons didnít look too good in late July and August. But, the 162 game schedule is shaping up to be what was expected. Thereís a chance that they wonít make the playoffs, but given their talent level, their improved health, and ďeaseĒ of schedule, the Yankees arenít done as legitimate World Series contenders. If they can finish strong and CC Sabathia can prove to be healthy, another postseason awaits in the Bronx. The blog world may have lost sight that the Yankees are performing well. But, the Major League Baseball season never misses those things. Talent and organizational depth tend to rise to the top most of the time.
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BORN: April 17, 1975 (38)
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