I’m slowly slogging through the Verducci/Torre book for three reasons:
- I’m a slow reader
- I try to watch the games at night and that takes me away from reading
- I’m finding the book depressing
One of the early chapters is called “a desperation to win” and in reading that last weekend, I was struck by the obviousness of it all, now, a decade later. It’s precisely what I don’t sense with the post-2000 teams. Verducci, in his SI.com interview with FOTB Alex Belth:
I think the teams that won generated that same kind of pressure internally, what the book calls “a desperation to win.” It was internal for most of the players, and even for Steinbrenner, who I regard in the book as one of the franchise’s most dynamic assets. It’s very different when that pressure comes externally, especially now when you’re talking about so many current Yankees who have no experience at winning in New York. They’re reading the road map for the first time, and it’s hard to figure out — unlike anywhere else — especially when you hear the constant drumbeat of frustration coming from fans and even the media that cover the team. The Yankees are the only one of 30 teams that write down as a failure any season that ends without a world championship. Individual stats don’t matter with the Yankees. Putting up a “good season” means less with the Yankees than any other franchise. There are only two seasons for the Yankees: world championship ones and everything else.
I watched Mo blow the save Friday night and as painful as it was, I said “it happens”. The Sox have seen this guy so many times, they have gotten used to his cutter and his skill. Just like we can solve Papelbon at times, so too can the Sox solve Mo. It happens. It hurts like hell but it happens. Of course, having bases loaded and coming away with nothing an inning earlier didn’t help. And watching Teix chase the high heat of Papelbon with a man on first and third the next inning sure did stink.
Here’s what bugged me: Saturday’s game. I didn’t watch much of this until the very end as I was out enjoying the nice weather and my sons’ games. It was only when we got to our friends’ house for a BBQ later that I watched the Yanks blow and re-blow the game. I thought I was noticing that desperation to win with the comebacks, but the pitching was just terrible. I’m glad I missed Burnett getting torched. Remember those fancy stats vs. Boston that I was so happy about:
- 8 games
- ERA: 2.56
- 56.1 IP, avg 7+ IP/start
- 53 K’s, nearly 1 K/IP
- WHIP of 1.179 (including IBB)
Watching Ellsbury just totally pants the Yanks made this lack of “desperation to win” so evident. Or maybe it’s just that the Sox have that desperation and I’m jealous because I know what it’s like to have it and how utterly wonderful it is, as a fan, to root for a team with that dynamic.
For the Yankees, it was symbolic of a weekend in which they were beaten in the cruelest of ways, three losses that leave you wondering if they are as tough as the Red Sox anymore. Is it possible that years of first-round playoff exits and then an empty October in 2008 have stolen whatever grit remained from the Joe Torre glory years?
The Yanks have played 18 games to a .500 record. It’s not a statistically significant number yet, but it sure gives us a pretty good view of what this team might be…. good, but not special. One of the things I remember from my early stats classes is that you need a sample size of about 30 before you can made conclusions from the data. We’ll be there right about when ARod returns.
I’m not ready to heave Girardi over the edge either just yet, but if this team continues to wander in a fog, I might lose patience sooner than later. Continue reading Where's the "desperation to win"?