Over the last few days — and with the introduction of the weirdly absurd Joe Torre blog — a lot of baseball commentators have been focused on the state of the Yankees. That this team — a team that went into 2008 clearly in transition — is something of a disappointment is not a point worth arguing. They’re 10 games out of first and five out of the Wild Card. Clearly things could be better.
But the comparisons to Joe Torre’s Dodgers and, to a lesser extent, the Mets are irrationally misguided. And it is, as always, a matter of perspective. Right now the Yankees are 67-59 in third place. For the Yankees, perennially expected to win the AL East, eight games over .500 and behind two teams in the East is hardly a bragging point. But the Mets and Dodgers aren’t any better.
Over in the pathetically mediocre NL West, the Dodgers are 64-62, two games behind the Diamondbacks. Yet, everything is coming up roses in the City of Angels. Got that? The Dodgers are 2.5 games worse than the Yankees. In the AL, they’d be behind the Blue Jays in the hunt for a playoff spot. Yet, somehow, because they’re in second place, Joe Torre gets the credit. Talk about a double standard.
Meanwhile, as Murray Chass stupidly pointed out, the Mets haven’t been hamstrung by injuries and poor play this year. Well, Mr. Chass, perhaps that’s because the four other teams in the Mets’ division are simply much worse than the Amazin’s. The Mets are 70-57, a whopping 2.5 games better than the Yankees. Again, if they were in the AL East, the Mets would be 7.5 games out of first and three games out of the Wild Card. As it stands now, if they suffer another late-season collapse, they will finish behind the Brewers and Cardinals in the NL Wild Card hunt.
But this figuring all this out seems to take too much effort for sportswriters. They’d rather write the accolades of other teams while burying the Yankees without bothering to look at it in perspective. Now, I’m not about to start excusing the Yankees by saying that they’d be running away with the NL West. But to call Joe Torre any sort of LA savior without looking at the Diamondbacks’ inability to put away the inferior Dodgers and to proclaim the Mets that much better than the Yanks without examining the other teams in the division is simply shortsighted baseball analysis. But should we ever really expect anything else from the likes of Murray Chass and Tim Brown? I guess not.