For whatever reason, the Yankees haven’t been a very good team early in the season lately. Last year they went just 12-10 in April, but 91-49 the rest of the way. If you go back three years, the Yankees are 35-39 in April but 251-161 from May on. It’s frustrating, and no one can seem to figure it out what’s causing this. We’ve just come to accept it.
In his blog post today, Buster Olney examined each American League team’s schedule in the early going. The Yanks have the third toughest schedule in the early going (according to Buster), thanks to 12 straight games against teams that finished .500 or better last season to start the campaign. Just 19 of their first 41 games will be played in the Bronx, and given their recent historical suckiness in April, it’s really not all that hard to envision a scenario in which the Yanks are under .500 on May 1st.
Of course, there’s two sides to every coin. The rough April (and part of May) means that June through September will be much kinder. The Yanks will play just three games against a team that finished over .500 last year (the Phillies) from May 28th through June 25th of this season, and 11 of their first 17 games in September are against some perennial doormats. With fewer games against the better teams in the league in the second half, that means winning streaks stay alive longer, and losing streaks don’t last very long.
A good start is always nice, and yes games in April count just as much as games in August and September, but the Yanks are going to face a tough part of the schedule at some point, and I like that they’ll do it in April. More than likely, they would have stumbled to a .500 or so record in that month, but now it’ll come with the reassurance of knowing that they’ll have a chance to build some serious momentum in the second half and go on into the playoffs with the head of steam like last year. Oh sure, it’ll give the talking heads a lot to … uh … talk about.
“The starters are worn down from last year!”
“They miss Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon!”
I can see all the headlines now, but it’ll just be the usual MSM gibberish. The important thing is that the toughest part of the schedule will be behind them, and they’ll have a chance to make the rest of the league pay once the team hits their stride. Now, just imagine if they get off to a hot start…