Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Top 5 Reasons the Yankees HAVE to Win the World Series -- THIS Year

So the Yankees started August out not the same way they went through most of July, which was taking names and kicking ass.

CC Sabathia did not have a good start against the Detroit Tigers last night at Yankee Stadium. He allowed 3 runs in the 3rd inning, and another in the 4th, and that last one made the difference. Didi Gregorius hit his 17th home run of the season in the 4th, and singled home another run in the 8th, but that was it.

Tyler Wade hit a leadoff double in the 3rd, and got to 3rd on a wild pitch. Man on 3rd, nobody out -- and he got stranded. Including a popup by "can't-miss prospect" Clint Frazier. To be fair, the man of the year, Aaron Judge, did no better, grounding out to end the inning. Matt Holliday doubled with 2 out in the 6th, but was stranded. With 2 out in the 7th, Brett Gardner singled and stole 2nd, but couldn't be brought home.

With 2 out in the bottom of the 9th, Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk, and Tigers reliever Shane Greene tried to pick him off, and threw the ball away. Ellsbury, the tying run, got to 3rd. Gardner was intentionally walked to set up the force play at 2nd. Big mistake, as the Yankees' speed guy (as opposed to Ellsbury, the Yankees' other speed guy) stole 2nd. Now the tying and winning runs were in scoring position, with Can't Miss Clint at bat.

Frazier popped up to the shortstop. Can't Miss Clint has yet to prove himself to be Clutch Clint.

Tigers 4, Yankees 3. WP: Anibal Sanchez (3-1). SV: Greene (1). LP: Sabathia (9-4).

To make matters worse, the Boston Red Sox had a game where their ace Chris Sale gave up 7 runs... and they still came from behind in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Cleveland Indians, 12-10. They close to within a half-game of the Yankees, who still lead them by 2 games in the all-important loss column.

The series with the Tigers concludes tomorrow afternoon, with Masahiro Tanaka starting against Jordan Zimmerman. Then the Yankees head out to Cleveland.

*

The Yankees haven't won the World Series since 2009 -- 8 years. By their standards, that's an eternity. They haven't won the Pennant since 2009, either. They haven't been to the American League Championship Series, or won the AL Eastern Division, since 2012 -- 5 years. In that time, they've played exactly 1 postseason game, the 2015 AL Wild Card Play-In Game, and lost it in pathetic fashion.

All of which would be bad enough, had the Red Sox not cheated their way to another World Series win in 2013, and the Mets not won a Pennant in 2015. We've seen other teams we don't like succeed as well. In 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays made the Playoffs, and were beaten in the ALCS by the Kansas City Royals, who then beat the Mets in the World Series. If any NL team but the Mets had been the opposition, that would have been about as much fun to watch as the musical episode of Xena -- if Xena had been played by Lisa Kudrow (who I love, but she can't sing) and Gabrielle had been played by Chelsea Handler (who might be a better singer drunk than sober).

The Giants had never won the World Series since moving to San Francisco. Since the Yankees last won it, they've won 3. The Texas Rangers have won Pennants. Hell, even the Chicago Cubs have won a Pennant and a World Series! And they beat the Cleveland Indians in that World Series, and the Indians haven't exactly won a lot of Pennants.

And yet, the Yankees are still searching. Maybe they wouldn't have gotten any closer had Brian Cashman not made some transactions that would be considered legendarily bad had they been made by the Mets. But it would have been nice to find out.

Enough is enough. I have had it with this losing by this team.

The Yankees have to win the World Series. This year.

Top 5 Reasons the Yankees Have to Win the World Series -- This Year

5. The Last Dance. Some of these guys won't get another chance -- at least, not with the Yankees. CC Sabathia and Matt Holliday are 37. Almost certainly, both are gone after this season. Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley are 33. All have perked up lately, but can they really be counted on for 2018 or beyond? Or even August and September 2017? And, if successful there, in October 2017?

CC, Gardy, and the left-and-returned David Robertson (at 32, he seems to have something left) are the last remaining players from the 2009 title. Gardy and D-Rob are the last remaining players in Pinstripes who played home games at the old Yankee Stadium.

The 2009 title was the 1st WS since 2000 and the 1st Pennant since 2003. That 2009 title became what I thought the 1996 title would be: A blip on the radar screen after a drought. (Going into 1996, we hadn't won a Pennant since 1981 or a World Series since 1978.) 1996 was the beginning of 8 years, 7 Division titles, 6 Pennants, 4 World Championships; 2009 was the beginning of 4 years, 3 Division titles, and 1 Pennant and World Championship, followed by 3 out of 4 years missing the Playoffs completely, and flopping in the 1 time we got in.

And there is absolutely no guarantee that the "prospects" that give the Yankees a "great future" will pan out. I'll get back to that in a moment.

4. Joe Girardi's Legacy. Put aside what he did as a player. This is about what he's done as a manager. This is his 11th season as a manager, his 10th with the Yankees.

* If, for whatever reason, he never managed another game after the 2009 World Series, his legacy would be secure: He got the Yankees back to the top.

* If, for whatever reason, he never managed another game after the 2012 ALCS, his legacy would still be pretty good: 5 years, 4 postseason berths, 3 Division titles, a World Championship that was one terrific ride.

* Since October 3, 2012, counting the 2012 postseason, his record is 400-363, for a percentage of .524. Over a 162-game span, that works out to 85-77 -- about what he's been the last 3 seasons: 84-78 in 2014, 87-75 in 2015, and 84-78 in 2016. That's usually not good enough to make the Playoffs. And most of that was without Mariano Rivera, and nearly all of it without anything resembling a prime Derek Jeter. How well has he managed without those? Mediocrely.

* In particular, Girardi's handling of the pitching staff has been abominable. His viewing of 95 pitches as some sort of magic number has been put aside a few times lately, but, all too often, it has been a benchmark. And bringing relievers in for just 1 inning, or (if a potential lefty-on-lefty situation, which would be the other kind of "LOL" if you hate the Yankees) just 1 batter, has failed many, many times. It's not all Boone Logan and Tyler Clippard, although it sure seems like it.

* Girardi's pitching mismanagement cost the Yankees the Division title, and possibly also the ALCS, in 2010; the AL Division Series in 2011; a Playoff berth entirely in 2013; a Playoff berth entirely in 2014; the Division title, thus dooming us to lose the Wild Card Game, in 2015; and a Playoff berth entirely in 2016.

* Even this season, in which the Yankees are (for the moment) in 1st place, is only at .548, which works out to 89 wins -- sometimes enough to make the Playoffs, but usually not enough to win the Division (which is usually 93 wins).

Girardi simply doesn't seem to grasp that winning the Division is important. It puts you in a much better position during the postseason. And if you don't try to win the Division in the regular season, either you get stuck in the Wild Card Game, where there is absolutely no margin for error; or you miss the Playoffs completely, and you look like an idiot. Girardi's failure to go for it in the AL East race may have cost us at least 1 Pennant, and possibly others.

If the Yankees win the World Series this year, then Girardi joins the list of 19 managers who've won at least 2 World Series, including the still-active Terry Francona (2004 and '07 Red Sox *, now with the Cleveland Indians) and Bruce Bochy (2010, '12 and '14 San Francisco Giants, and still with them).

If he doesn't, that's the difference between being one of those guys, and one of the guys who had a lot of talent, but should have won a lot more than they did. Guys like Bobby Cox: 29 seasons, 16 postseasons, 5 Pennants, but only 1 World Championship. Gene Mauch: 27 seasons, 2 postseasons, no Pennants). Jim Leyland: 22 seasons, 8 postseason berths, 3 Pennants, but only 1 World Championship. Jack McKeon: 16 seasons, but only 2 postseason berths, just 1 Pennant and World Championship. Red Schoendienst: 14 seasons, but only 2 Pennants and 1 World Championship. Tony LaRussa was one of those guys before winning the 2004 Pennant with the St. Louis Cardinals, followed by World Series wins in 2006 and '11.

It could mean the difference between making the Hall of Fame, and not. Cox and LaRussa are in. So is Schoendienst, but as a player. Mauch, Leyland and McKeon, thus far, are not.

If Girardi doesn't at least win the AL East this season, what could be a good reason for keeping him for 2018? There is none. If the George Steinbrenner of 1973 to 1990 were running the Yankees in the 2010s, Girardi probably would have been fired in 2013 at the latest.

3. Brian Cashman's Legacy. The Yankee Dynasty of 1996 to 2003 is at the feet of Gene Michael and Bob Watson. After that? It was Cashman who gave huge contracts to Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. It worked in 2009. Other than that, it hasn't.

It was Cashman who let Robinson Cano go (which might have been a good idea, long-term), but it was also Cashman who replaced him with Stephen Drew, while letting Rob Refsnyder rot in Triple-A, ruining him in a way similar to the way he ruined Joba Chamberlain's pitching career.

And, just 1 year ago, it was Cashman who traded away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova. Of the players he got in return, so far, only Clint Frazier has given the Yankees anything -- and his clutch failures, including tonight, have been almost as numerous as his big hits. And the games he's contributed to winning haven't even come close to offsetting the defeats that could have been avoided if only Miller (for whom he was traded) had been available.

Cashman made those trades despite the Yankees' top 5 farm teams all making their respective leagues' playoffs in 2016. He didn't need to boost the farm system: It was already the best in baseball. We didn't need Clint Frazier. We didn't need Gleyber Torres. We didn't need all those teenagers who aren't going to contribute until at least 2019.

If at all. Who knows if they'll be the new Jeter, Williams, O'Neill and Pettitte -- or the new Steve Balboni, Hensley Meulens, Kevin Maas and Clay Parker? They might never pan out, and Cashman might have thrown away our 2016 chance for a future that never comes.

If the deals Cashman made this past weekend pan out, he rewrites history. A World Series win in 2017 wouldn't be attributable to the genius of Gene Michael, the tenacity of Bob Watson, or the ability of Hal Steinbrenner to spend his father's money.

The result of this season, one way or the other, will be the responsibility of Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman. Win, and all is forgiven, and their Monument Park Plaques can be readied, with only the specifics needed. Fail to win, and there is no reason for either one to still be working in the Yankee organization on November 2, 2017 (barring a postponement, the latest date the 2017 World Series can end is November 1) -- or, possibly, even as early as October 2 (the regular season ends on October 1).

2. The New York Mets. As of right now, and continuing until at least October 18 (the postseason schedule is far from finalized, although we know the Division Series start on October 4 and the World Series on October 24), the Mets have still won New York's last Pennant. That cannot be allowed to stand. True, they stink at the moment (they are 14 games out of the National League East lead, and 10 1/2 games out of a Wild Card slot), but their fans can still say they've won New York's last Pennant.

Does that sicken you? It should. The Yankees can do something about it. Do we really want to go another year without them having done something about it?

1. The Boston Red Sox. They've still won the more recent Pennant and the more recent World Series. And, now, they are battling us for the AL East title, as God intended it, but without their big fat lying cheating bastard David Ortiz. Whatever they achieve this season -- be it the Wild Card, the Division, the Pennant, or the World Series -- they can now claim that they won it without steroids, and there's nothing we can say about it.

Whereas if they don't, we can say it was all about the cheating.

You know what's better to say? "The 28-Time and Current World Champion New York Yankees."

Now, the Mets making the postseason, and doing anything therein, is a very long shot right now. But the Red Sox could still make it, and do something therein.

We do not need to have the Red Sox win an (apparently) untainted title.

We need to win one.

It is time for Title 28.

If we don't win it this time, who's to say we ever will?

The New York Yankees must win the World Series. This year. The future is now.

Because it could be never.

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