Column: Yankees yearning for October baseball
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 16, 2013 22:09
As I sat in my public speaking lecture this morning, half asleep listening to students propose potential topics for the next assigned presentation, one statement in particular caught my attention. It jolted me awake and made beating this column’s deadline tonight much easier. A student spoke about baseball but more than that delved into current state of the American League Wild Card race, a subject I touched upon significantly last week. He talked partially about a dilemma conflicting Yankee fans across the five boroughs and beyond. I’ll tell you the rest.
As the season grows shorter and games become fewer, the Yankees stand three games behind the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. Wild Card standings. More importantly, they find themselves a half game behind the Baltimore Orioles, who likewise chase October in the same hunt. To put it simply, the Yankees need the Rays to lose, they need the Rangers to lose and they need the Orioles to lose. Sounds simple enough, or at the very least understandable, right? Wrong.
The problem stressing Yankee fans everywhere is a dream for all fans across the country who despise the Bronx Bombers. The pinstripes’ issue lies in the fact that the Rays aren’t playing host to the Royals, White Sox or Blue Jays. And Rangers don’t face off against the Mariners, Angels or even the A’s. Starting with last night’s game in St. Petersburg, the Rangers and Rays will spend the beginning of this third week in September sitting in dugouts opposite of each other – an opportunity for both teams but a nightmare for fans in New York.
New York needs both teams to lose to make up ground. And they need them to drop ball games at a rapid rate. That possibility is at the current moment not plausible considering that Texas and Tampa Bay play each other until Thursday – an eternity in the baseball world. If one team were to sweep the other, the Yankees could conceivably creep closer in erasing their deficit but the scenario is unlikely. The Rangers and Rays are two incredibly even teams, and the Yankees are gridlocked.
The other predicament that looms large in the minds of Yankee fans is of a more emotional nature. The Orioles, as mentioned, stand ahead of the Yankees in the Wild Card hunt, and tonight in Boston, the Orioles begin a series with the Red Sox, the Yankees’ hated rival. To move past Baltimore in the standings, the Yankees need the Red Sox to win. For the next few days they must cringe as they check scoreboards, follow games on their mobile phones and flip back and forth between YES Network and NESN rooting for Sox. I wouldn’t want to be a Yankee fan right now. I’ve been in similar situations over the years as a diehard member of Red Sox Nation; they mess with you psychologically. Are the Yankees still in sight of October? Yes. But their view is incredibly obstructed. If New York’s situation says one thing to Yankee fans it goes as follows: this wasn’t your year.