54 = 1/3rd

Today, as I regroup from a pair of long journeys, the standings show the Yanks at an abominable 24-30, 12.5 games out of first, and despite a theatrical win last night (I passed out two innings into it, courtesy of jetlag) and a series victory in Boston, just about all of the pundits, team execs, scouts, blogmasters, and barstool commentators have written the Yanks out of AL East title contention. Well, they have a tough road ahead, no doubt. But they’ve been written off as dead in the water before, and have come back to win. Last year, at the break, the consensus was that the division was safely in the hands of Big Papi, the King of Clutch, and his Beantown Brethren. We know what happened. We don’t need to bring up 1978—the greatest of all comebacks—to suggest that while the Yanks may be down, they are most assuredly not out. The Yanks have played 54 games thus far. They’ve played them badly, for the most part, and they’ve played through a dizzying array of injuries. But that’s 54 games. One third of the season. Two thirds remains. One hundred and eight games. That’s a lot of baseball.

Okay. More on what kept me away to come soon. But for now, it’s good to be back.

10 comments… add one
  • I’m glad you didn’t bring up 1978…because then we’d be forced to bring up 2004. :)

    jp-sf June 4, 2007, 2:49 pm
  • welcome back.
    i’d feel better about the yankees’ chances if hughes’ ankle was feeling better.

    Yankee Fan In Boston June 4, 2007, 2:49 pm
  • Welcome back, YF.
    Your optimisim and historical reminders are appreciated. However, it’s difficult for me to be hopeful, and last year’s situation compared to this year’s doesn’t make me feel much better. The farthest the 06 Yanks ever fell out of first was four games, on July first, and that team was 12 games over .500 at the time.

    attackgerbil June 4, 2007, 2:53 pm
  • We don’t need to bring up 1978—the greatest of all comebacks—to suggest that while the Yanks may be down, they are most assuredly not out.
    So why DID you bring it up, then, if you “don’t need to”? Still passive-aggressive as always, even jetlagged…
    Oh, and welcome back.

    SF June 4, 2007, 3:05 pm
  • Injuries notwithstanding, figure the Yanks have been playing significantly below their potential, and the Red Sox have been playing at least somewhat above theirs, the key question in both cases being, “How much?” Lowell is going to cool down and Youkilis will undoubtedly hit a rough stretch, while Matsui and Abreu are presumably (hopefully, if you’re a Yankees fan) going through their rough stretches right now.
    Obviously the Red Sox are in a superior position, not only because they have the 12-1/2 game lead but because their pitching, while not quite as good as advertised, is as of right now more stable than the Yankees’.
    Still, you just know this is going tighten up.

    MJL in L.A. (SF) June 4, 2007, 3:13 pm
  • yeah, the yankees have been playing below their potential, but these injuries have sidelined guys for weeks at a time, in some cases months, and in one case (thankfully) for the duration of the guys unearned contract.
    they should have played better, but didn’t. now they’re down bodies.
    i think they’ll turn things around somewhat (i have to, don’t i?), but to imply that there will be a yankees/red sox pennant race is extremely wishful thinking.
    i’d love to see that happen, but i’m looking at the wild card standings these days.

    Yankee Fan In Boston June 4, 2007, 3:18 pm
  • theres a lot of games but the yanks have to play like .650 the rest of the way to reach 94 games. theyre going to have top start winning a majority of their series.

    Ric June 4, 2007, 3:47 pm
  • Too bad a comeback to take the division would mean defying the odds and writing one of the greatest chapters in the history of baseball. Not to mention the Sox can go .500 and the Yanks .600 for the rest of the year and the Sox would still take the division over the Yanks. But great optimism.

    SF Kevin June 4, 2007, 7:15 pm
  • It’s not like the Sox offense has been clicking on all cylinders either. Sure, Lowell and Youk have been more than stellar recently, but Papi hasn’t been tearing the cover off the ball, and Manny is just now starting to make good contact. Lugo, Coco, and Drew have been relative non-factors so far. There is certainly room for all to improve too, and that could be scary good.

    ToddSF June 4, 2007, 7:34 pm
  • I’m pretty tired as well of this meme I hear around the boards and the blogs… “The Yankees have been in bad shape like this before” or, in this case, “written off as dead in the water before.” That’s just not accurate in any relevant sense.
    The last time the Yanks were this bad after 54 games was 1984 (23-31). The Yankees were 18 games out of first then, had the best record in the AL East from that date forward — and finished 17 out, in third place. That’s the best finish by any Yankee club to have started at least five games under .500 in the first 54 (12 teams have done that, including the 07 version).
    The 2005 squad, mentioned often as starting so badly before winning the division, were 27-27 at this point, five games out of first and three games behind Boston. Also, in 1978, the Yankees were 32-22 after 54 games, just four games behind Boston. Desperation = bringing up 1978 to make yourself feel better.
    I’m not saying it can’t happen. The 2005 Houston Astros started the season 20-34 and won the NL pennant. The 1974 Pirates started 21-33 and won the division. The 1914 Miracle Braves started 22-31 and won the World Series. The 1989 Blue Jays started 23-31 and won the AL East. So it can be done. But those four teams are the only ones of roughly 700 to start the first 54 games of the season as badly as the Yankees and still make the playoffs. About four more finished in second place in their division with winning records. Two or three others finished second in their division, but with losing records.

    Paul SF June 4, 2007, 7:39 pm

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