Yankees and Orioles fight for AL East title
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 00:09
When I first heard the news that Major League Baseball was adding a second wildcard team to the playoffs, I hated the change.
Now that the Yankees are in a neck-and-neck race for the AL East title with the Orioles, I really hate it.
Over the course of the past month or so, New York has played their way into a dangerous position, fighting to stay as far away from the one-game playoff between the two wildcard teams as they can.
Baseball - more than any other sport - is a game in which any team can win on any given day. Even the worst of teams win 60 games. That’s why the season is 162 games long – because over time, the best teams show their mettle and the lesser ones fade away.
That’s why a one-game playoff is so dangerous in the MLB – anything can happen. A hot pitcher, a blown save or a single swing can mean the difference between advancing to the next round of the playoffs or the end of a six-month long campaign.
And right now, the Yankees are far too unpredictable of a team to risk playing Russian Roulette with a single game in October.
Their supposed ace, C.C. Sabathia, has blown leads in all of his last five starts and is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA since the beginning of this month. Although the team is 2nd in the league in runs scored, they are 11th in batting average, relying heavily on homeruns for their offensive production, which tend to be hard to come by when the air gets cool and the playoffs begin as pitching takes control of the games.
Perhaps the most alarming statistic about this team is their failure to perform in the clutch, as the veteran squad is below .500 in one-run games, losing 22 of the 40 they have played in this year. On the other hand, the Orioles, their main competition for the division title, have gone 27-8 in such contests.
As much as I hate to say it, unless this team gets hot at what would be the perfect time, they appear destined to break mine and so many other New York hearts as they bow out during the ALDS, as fans have become so accustomed to since over the past several years.
The spark in the rapidly aging roster just seems to be missing, even if they’re good for some firework shows on occasion. Explosiveness isn’t their problem, but consistency sure is, and over a seven-game series that’s about all that matters. Hopefully I’m wrong, but let this be a warning Yankees fans – the future looks less than promising when it comes to adding a 28th World Championship banner this season.