Over the past few days and weeks, I’ve seen the sentiment arise that the Yankees should tank the rest of the season. Phone it in. Lay down and let other teams walk all over you. For the most part — actually, for all the part — none of those suggesting this are or were professional athletes. So it makes a degree of sense. They have something else in mind, which I’ll get to in just a second.
My main question is, why would any fan want to see a player on their team lay down? Isn’t that the sign of an uncommitted athlete? It seems that this type of player could turn it on or turn it off whenever. According to many sports fans, including probably the majority of commenters at RAB, that’s not the type of player you want on your team. This came up yesterday in the Manny Ramirez thread. A number of people don’t want someone who can just turn it off if things aren’t going exactly his way. Yet tanking the rest of the season would indicate just that.
The reason a few fans want the team to lose in September is for reasons of a higher and possibly protected draft pick. The first mention of this I saw was at, where else, NoMaas. Let me start by saying that having a higher draft pick means little for the Yankees. If they sign a Type A free agent, and by all indications they will, they’ll lose that first rounder anyway. Yes, they’ll have a higher pick in the subsequent rounds, but the higher spot means less and less as you get deeper in the draft.
Second, in order to protect their pick, they have to be the 15th worst team in baseball. Right now the Yankees are the 18th worst team in baseball. Cleveland, with 71 wins, is the 15th worst. While dropping three spots in the standings doesn’t seem out of the question, dropping six games over the last few weeks of the season seems a bit less likely. Plus, do you really want the distinction of finishing fourth in the AL East this year?
I think Andy Pettitte puts things into proper perspective:
If guys think we’re out of the playoffs, I would hope they’d play for some pride. We’re getting paid an awful lot of money to do a job. I would hope that would never come into account, no matter how far out we are.
Personally, I want to see them win a few more games of these final 16. What motivation would I have to turn on the TV if I know they’re just mailing it in? Play. Win. Finish 3rd. Please, please, finish 3rd.