The extra days off in the first two rounds of the playoffs have helped the Yankees — in theory. (Communism works, in theory.) It has allowed them to plan for a three man rotation, which is key when you have only three reliable starters. Yet in the ALCS there has been a drawback. It could constitute too much time off.
Yes, it’s tough on the fans. After just 18 off days over the season’s first six months, the Yankees have played two games in a row just twice this postseason. Most of us preferred it that way — the Yankees gained a strategic advantage by choosing the long ALDS — but it still doesn’t make the month go by any quicker. For fans, the extra off-days in October are painful.
In this case, it’s not just about the fans. The players have to be feeling it, too. In one way I’m sure they appreciate the rest. Over 162 games even tough guys get sprains, sore arms, and muscle pulls. But at some point I’m sure they want that rhythm back. With no more than two consecutive days with a game, it’s tough for some of those players to get to where they were in the regular season.
It’s anyone’s guess as to why the Yankees’ offense is slumping (or was slumping, if you believe they broke out last night), but being out of rhythm is certainly one theory. The clearest example here is Teixeira, why by anecdotal accounts takes time to find his groove. It’s tough to find and stay in a groove if you’re playing every other day. Tex had a few decent at bats last night. I’m sure he wants to build on that today.
In fact, I’m sure the whole Yankees team wants to play today. Who wouldn’t want to play the day after you trounce your opponent? The Angels looked defeated by the end. After Juan Rivera grounded into a double play to kill a potential sixth-inning rally, the Angels went down without a whimper. Only Kendry Morales drew a three-ball count the rest of the way, and he ended up flailing at a 3-2 pitch. The Yankees want to come back out today and finish the job. Instead, they have to wait for tomorrow.
I’m grateful for the edge the Yankees get from the extra off-day, and I’m sure they are, too. The ability to go with only three pitchers, three very good pitchers, is an advantage for a team that doesn’t have a reliable fourth option. But there is a downside, and it’s not just related to fans who want baseball every day. Baseball is about rhythm, and these off-days in the playoffs mess with that. The good news is that it works both ways, and there seems to be no team more asynchronous than the Angels.