How Are We Supposed To Feel As Yankee Fans Right Now?

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

I was really looking forward to this post.  I was fully prepared to write a Kate Hudson in “Almost Famous”-style, “it’s all happening” post about the recent turnaround and positive momentum the Yankees were building at the right time as they headed into the final handful of regular season games against their 2 divisional doormats.  They had won 13 of 19 games, maintained sole custody of the AL East lead, shaved their playoff magic number down to less than a hand’s worth of digits, and were getting healthier by the day.

CC was back and looking like the version of himself that everybody has been waiting for months to see; A-Rod was back, looking healthy, and helping to lengthen the middle of the batting order; Ichiro had turned back the clock to the mid-2000s and earned himself a spot at the top of the order thanks to his hot hitting.  Ivan Nova had been activated, Andy Pettitte had been activated, Brett Gardner and David Aardsma too, and there was still hope that we could see Mark Teixeira‘s goofy mug back on our TV screens at some point.  The Yankees were getting their sh*t together and re-positioning themselves to be the odds-on favorites to win the AL pennant when the playoffs started.  Then last night’s game happened.

If you want to roll your eyes at this and say it was just one game, that’s your prerogative.  But in that one game, we were reminded of nearly all the problems this team still has.  The offense was lifeless against a pitcher who wasn’t exactly throwing Bob Gibson-type stuff, with the middle of the order coming up incredibly small again.  The starting pitching was ineffective, inefficient, and unable to get through 5 innings of work.  The bullpen wasn’t great behind the starting pitcher, and it was the B-team getting the work because the A-team is still probably tired from overuse.  Sprinkle in a dash of RISP Fail, and throw in the still-tough-to-swallow loss against the Twins on Tuesday in which we got to see a bad performance from the bullpen A-team and some questionable managing, and every problem area is covered.

Last night’s disappointing outcome hit me with a sobering slap of reality, a reality that has left me somewhat unsure of how to feel about this team right now.  That reality is that the Yankees are still a very flawed ballclub and they’re going to remain a flawed ballclub through the rest of the season, however long it goes.  They have questions in their starting rotation, they have questions in the bullpen, and they still have major problems offensively.  Robinson Cano, the cleanup hitter and hands down best position player on the team, has busted out of his slump by going 8-12 in his last 3 games and he only has 2 RBI to show for it.  That just shouldn’t happen, it shouldn’t.  They’re old, they’re inflexible, and there’s nothing more they can do to address that.

So now here we are, a week away from the ridiculously-formatted postseason starting up and I don’t know how I feel or how I should feel about this team.  I want to be positive, I want to look at the record over the last 3 weeks and be confident but I can’t.  At best I’m cautiously hopeful.  At worst, I’m pessimistically hostile thinking about the idea of another premature playoff exit.  The things that have bitten the Yankees in the ass in the last few postseasons are the same things they struggled with last night and have struggled with all season long.  If they can’t get it done against Brandon Morrow and the 69-87 Blue Jays, against whom can I reasonably expect them to get it done?

I’m flying home this afternoon for the weekend, hopefully to go to the NASCAR race in Dover with my old man (make your jokes).  The weather doesn’t look like it’s going to cooperate, and if it doesn’t it will turn into a quiet weekend at home in Connecticut with my family and guaranteed TV access to the next 3 games of this series.  I’m hopeful that I’ll see something in these upcoming 3 games to make me feel better, to wash away this sense of worried uncertainty I’m feeling right now.  I’m not sure how everyone else out there feels, but I have to think there are plenty out there who share my sentiments.  It’s not the way we should feel about a division-leading team with 90 wins, but right now it’s all the Yankees are giving us.

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS and An A-Blog for A-Rod, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.

10 thoughts on “How Are We Supposed To Feel As Yankee Fans Right Now?

  1. hawaii dave

    It’s not so much how I “feel” about the Yankees…because how I feel about the Yankees is indescribable, and is a deeper experience than what is occurring this season. I have loved the Yankees since age 5 and I’m 53 so my “feelings” are still love. Maybe a more accurate question is what am I supposed to “think” about the Yankees? And I think they are playing those most inconsistent baseball I’ve ever seen in any Yankee team in memory, not that I memorize the aspects of every years team. But I do not remember teams that started 21-21…then 20-6….then playing .500 ball for another 60-70 games all in one season. Then go on a 9-1 streak. So the only consistent thing about these Yanks are their inconsistency. What caused this? I don’t have the slighted idea. So if you insist on asking how I’m supposed to feel…FRUSTRATED, that this team cannot identify what makes them win and duplicate that or identify what causes the losses and alter that. Now if you want to know what I “believe”. I believe this team, as is, cannot compete with their backs against the wall. There are too many important players that do not understand the science of hitting. Philosophically, those players simply believe that to swing as hard as they can when they think a fastball is coming, is the way hitting was always supposed to be. They seem to think they are doing the right thing and have the correct approach. Guess fastball, swing hard, hope for the best. I think it will be hard to win a playoff series with hitters like that.

    • Bill

      You raise an excellent point, which is one of the first things they should address in November. Kevin Long goes. Immediately. His approach doesn’t work with this team any more and a new voice is needed. If Jeter had continued following his lead, we never would have seen the fantastic comeback season he’s enjoyed. Granderson is the most useless 40 home run hitter since Dave Kingman. Even Cano is nowhere near the level he should be. These guys have all had success in the past and there’s something that’s causing them to struggle. The approach you (and I) see would seem to be the problem and that points right at the hitting coach.

    • OldYanksFan

      “There are too many important players that do not understand the science of hitting. Philosophically, those players simply believe that to swing as hard as they can when they think a fastball is coming, is the way hitting was always supposed to be.”

      Actually, you know exactly what the problem is.
      Except for Jeter and Ichiro, this is an all or nothing lineup. Situational batting, like moving a runner over, simply doesn’t exist.

      I don’t mind their approach with the bases empty.
      I don’t mind their approach with less then 2 strikes. But some situations demand, at very least…. CONTACT.

      So many times a productive out, like when we had 1st and 2nd and no outs last night, is not a terrible thing. But Grandy strikes out. So many times we were a ground ball or sac fly away from being back in a game that was ultimately lost.

      I don’t know if it’s Long’s fault. These guys are professionals, and should understand situational hitting. Should understand that always trying to pull an outside pitch isn’t always a good thing.

      We either bludgeon the other team, or lose a close game. That is what separates this team from other Yankee teams. Obviously we miss Gardner. And we certainly miss Teix now.

      I will say ARod does considers the situation. ARod understands how to play the game.

  2. eric

    I agree with this to a degree

    Then I look at the rest of the teams and go “that’s it?”

    I am not scared of the Rangers, Detroit, Baltimore or Oakland

    In the NL I’m not scared of the Nationals, Braves, Reds or Giants

    This team’s biggest enemy is itself.

    If, and it’s a big if with the way they’ve played since July, they can get on a roll I think they could win the whole thing.

    They are also just as capable of losing the ALDS in 4 games, while losing 3, one run games while going 0-11 with RISP

  3. Professor Longnose

    OK, I’ll admit that there is no way to predict what the Yankees will do over the next week, and on if they make the playoffs. So instead, I’ll move on to watching this next week of incredibly tense, exciting, frustrating, exhilarating, deflating, fascinating pennant-race baseball.

    Can’t think of anything better than that.

  4. Bill

    This could have come right off my computer. There is nothing here that is out of line or unreasonable. This is a very good, yet very flawed club. Look for them to win 4 of the next 6 and win the division by 1 game, as I see Baltimore doing the same, losing 2 of 3 in Tampa next week. If the Red Sox shock us all and win one game at Camden Yards, so much the better. Then we’ll see what they do with the other very good, but very flawed teams in the tournament. After this is all done we can go to town on what should be done to fix the flaws. That will be fun to say the least.

  5. roadrider

    Well, since the team has not actually been out of first place since they got there back in the spring (early summer?) I’d have to say I feel pretty good about them. Is it a flawed team? Sure. So are all of their competitors. It’s not the 1998 or 1999 Yankees but it’s not the 2000 or 2001 Yankees either (and, remember one of those teams won the WS and the other missed by a hair).

    I can’t say the Yankees will win the WS or even go very far in the post-season but there’s as much reason to think that they can do those things as there is to think that they can’t.

  6. bg90027

    You’re reading too much into one game. Nova hasn’t been pitching well and Morrow (when healthy) is a damn good pitcher. I’d be surprised if Nova gets a start in the playoffs though and he could be useful out of the bullpen.

    That said, this is a hard team to analyze. I’ll feel pretty good if Kuroda has a really good start, Pettitte has another good start and is fully stretched out, and Tex comes back, but the team is capable of both really good streaks and really bad streaks.

  7. I agree with old yanks fan above. Martin also understands how to hit I think. And of course Jeter, Pretends to hit for contact, but also swings for the gap or the fence at rare times when it’s appropriate for him. One other thing that should be pointed out is the choke factor during crucial at-bats. For a large part of the year the Yankees lead the league In team batting average with no runners on base, while at the same time near the bottom with runners in scoring position, and even worse with bases-loaded. Hungry young teams like Tampa Bay see theyre average skyrocket with bases-loaded. I think their current split is .251/.376 With bases empty/bases-loaded. I remember a time around two months ago, the Yankees split was around .290/.188, with the team average dropping a full hundred points with bases loaded. If are batters were simply trying to make good contact, there’s no way this would happen, and while we wouldn’t get as many grand slams, the increase in 2-RBI singles and 3-RBI doubles would more than make up for it. I love the Yankees, but I’m so very frustrated.

  8. franco_trapped_the_ball

    I’ll settle for them winning the division, even if that is where it ends. At least they will not have set another dubious record for blowing their biggest ever regular season lead. One “for-the-ages” disgrace (2004) is enough for any fan’s lifetime. I hope to see a lot of new, home-grown faces next year, even if it means “rebuilding.”

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