The 27-Game Season

Collapsed: AL East lead vanishes with latest loss
The Yankees and Small Ball
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

One-hundred and thirty-five games into the season, the Yankees are right back where they started on Opening Day following last night’s loss to the Rays. They’re tied atop the AL East with the Orioles while Tampa looms just two back in the loss column, meaning the only thing left this season is a four-week mad dash to the finish line. A new 27-game season.

“It doesn’t (feel any different having a lead in the division or being tied),” said Joe Girardi following last night’s game, which is typical manager-speak. Of course it feels different having a lead than not, these guys aren’t robots. “When you look at it, you have to play good baseball. If you want to get in the playoffs, you have to play good baseball. And we’ve got [27 games left], and we have to play good.”

As ridiculous as this sounds, the best possible way the Yankees can view their current situation is as a fresh start. The once ten-game division lead is already blown and there’s no going back in time to get it back. They’re actually lucky they blew this thing with 27 games left, because at least now they have time to reclaim the division lead. The Red Sox and Braves had no such luck last year. The Yankees have to look at this as “alright, we’re all 0-0 and the best team over the next 27 games will win it.” What more could they possibly do? I don’t see any other way to look at it.

Oh, and you know what the most messed up part of this is? Driving back to my hotel from Tropicana Field last night, I felt relieved. Relieved they blew this lead. How ridiculous is that? Relieved. The Yankees have been playing so poorly for such a long time that blowing the division lead felt inevitable. Maybe it would happen today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. Who knows. It felt like it was only a matter of time before it happened and I guess I was relieved that the wait was finally over. Remember back when you were a kid and you had to get up in front of the class to make a presentation, and how you were all nervous beforehand but felt great afterwards because it was over with? Kinda like that. The collapse part is done, now they can try to rebuild.

Anyway, the Yankees made their bed by playing sub-.500 ball since the All-Star break, so now instead of coasting to the finish line and making sure everyone is well prepared for the postseason, the playoffs basically start today. Tonight is Game One of a best-of-27 series … well, it doesn’t really work like that. But you get the point. The Yankees blew their nice cushy lead and they should be embarrassed by their play. I can’t imagine an athlete feeling any other way after a stretch like this. The season isn’t over though, there is still 16.7% of the schedule remaining and that has be the team’s focus. Looking back at what’s already happened will only doom them further.

Collapsed: AL East lead vanishes with latest loss
The Yankees and Small Ball
  •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

    A voice of reason. Well said.

    It’s a new day. 27 games to win the chance to play for #28.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger


    • BigDavey88

      Probably awful. Nice to see you hiding behind a changed name handle though.

  • Joe

    “This was my seventh credentialed game at Tropicana Field, and they Yankees have won just one of those games. If I believed in jinxes and other stuff like that, maybe I’d stop coming. But I won’t.” Mike Axia

    Ok can you please watch this one on TV humor us maybe you are bad luck!!! Anything is worth a shot for some good karma. Maybe the game you miss granderson or alex run into a three run homer or swisher will stop swinging over every pitch and make some contact again.

    • Bartolo’s Colon

      i think the only way the yanks stop losing at the trop is to not play anymore at the trop. they are getting there asses handed to them over the last year or so there. fortunately, today is the last game there this season, until the inevitable one game playoff we play there in a few weeks (or maybe oakland, even better), while the o’s watch at home

  • goterpsgo

    The comeback starts with Kuroda on the mound tonight.

    (I pray it happens – the 0’s fans are already insufferable.)

    • steve s

      All 11,000 of them.

    • Kramerica Industries

      For a second, I thought 0’s fans meant the Yankee bandwagon fans of the 2000s.

      …then I realized that was either a typo or a sarcastic way to refer to Orioles fans.

      • goterpsgo

        That’s how I refer to dem 0’s fans, hon.

        I prefer to describe myself as a resident of the DC Metro area; Baltimore is a hole, and the rest of MD could be sunk, for all I care.

    • JWT

      O’s fans have at least some right to be insufferable. It’s been a very long time for them , and it ‘s not like NYY and Bosox fans haven’t been a tad insufferable over that time …

      • goterpsgo

        And I hope it continues.

    • goterpsgo

      “The Curse of Dewayne Wise.” You heard it here first. :D

    • rek4gehrig

      What O’s fans?

      • goterpsgo

        All the bandwagon 0’s fans in my office (I work in Owings Mills).

  • TrollHunter

    That is quite a collection of scrubs in that picture watching the ship hit the iceburg.

    • LarryM.,Fl.

      “Wealthy scrubs is a more accurate description.” If I do say so myself.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    Mike, you spun the Yankee collapse as best you could. Here is my view. The Yankees will be without Gardner. Still have to pitch Garcia who is horrible. No Teix. as of yet and Grandy and Cano playing under strength, physically. Arod is playing rehab games as of now. Ibanez, Ichiro and Jones still have to play in the last 27 games.

    In simple terms the team has not changed even if the slant of a new slate is provided. I see no uptick in play but I sure hope that I’m wrong.

  • Pat D

    So is this not a good time to ask why the Magic Number counter hasn’t shown up yet?

    • LarryM.,Fl.


  • Kramerica Industries

    I’m still trying to figure out this Tropicana Field shit.

    Do the research – EVERY SINGLE LOSS out of the past 11 has been by 1-3 runs. In effect, the Yankees very easily could’ve (should’ve?) won a number of those games, but found ways to lose, be it relief meltdowns, not diving for groundballs, etc.

    It truly boggles the mind.

    • TrollHunter

      Not getting runners home from third with less than 2 outs really helps a team suck in one run games. The Yanks stike out and pop up in thses situations alot! Gotta go for the home run….who needs one little run!

    • LarryM.,Fl.

      Living in Fla. in the Rays media market, I have to watch their feed not Extra innings. They put and interesting stat. before every Yankee in the starting lineup ave. against Rays pitching. I did not pick up on it for Jeter but as folows Grandy .122, Swisher .204, Cano .392, Arod .283, Ibanez.300 Nix .111, Dickerson NA and the big guy Stewart.300 just too many oppts. to come up short.

      Rays have seriously strong starting rotation and we don’t. No situational hitting, no moving runners equals losses by 1-3 runs from a team that doesn’t hit well.

      • TomH

        You mentioned watching games on “Extra Innings.” “MLB Extra Innings,” I assumed. Do you mean you’re normally able to watch only the YES broadcasts (except for when the team’s in FL)? My provider seems to alternate: tonight the Yanks, tomorrow the Opponent, etc.

        • Kramerica Industries

          I have, premium edition, but I’m guessing Extra Innings also has a standard and premium edition that works the same way.

          Standard – you deal with what they give you. I had standard in 2011, as such I could only listen to the home team broadcast.

          Premium – your choice, since both are provided.

          Both are subject to blackout within market. I could never watch a Rays game on This means no YES when the Yankees are playing them.

        • LarryM.,Fl.


          I have MLB Extra Innings provided through Verizon. I live in Sarasota which is in the Rays TV market. So when the Yankees are in Tampa. I have to watch the Rays channel on Sun sports. When the Yankees are at home I usually have the YES channel to watch. When the Yanks are on the road other than Tampa I have to watch the home team feed. Some announcers are pretty good from the home team toward the Yanks. At least I get to see them.

      • Kramerica Industries

        But the Rays need a strong staff to survive and win enough ballgames. The Yankees don’t need to have as strong a staff, to keep the Rays shut down.

        What’s ridiculous is how someone like B.J. Upton is a truly mediocre hitter against the rest of MLB, but seems to pop home runs every single time the Yankees are the opponent. I mean, what the hell is up with that?

        • JohnnyC

          Either the pitchers don’t execute the game plan or the advance scouting is inadequate. Take your pick.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    This team needs motivation. What I see in the players is the face of defeat. Those two teams in the east race play us with greater intensity than we play them. The season has a long way to go but they have to get it together. They can bring in Paulie to show them how to get angry, break a bat or throw a helmet. At the moment the players look lost. Maybe they need to be hypnotized. I still believe we will win the division.But it is getting late.

    • Kingslayer

      Forget the division. They will be lucky to get a wildcard!! They don’t have the PLAYERS to pull this off!

  • Leg-End

    The way the offense is right now, Kuroda would have to pitch a shutout for us to have any chance. The series against the O’s and this current one against the Ray’s just shows how bad they Yankees are right now at manufacturing runs. They could have a man on 3rd with no outs and I still don’t expect them to score, any time that happens we always seem to have guys up there swinging from their shoes instead of just getting the run in and getting some momentum.

    But you still gotta figure sometime soon the offense will kick to life, it has to.

  • Jim

    At least Kevin Long’s postgame comments were interesting. Wasn’t it good to see Garcia and ANDRUW JONES sharing a laugh after freddie two strike was removed?

    • TomH

      This reminded me of a passage in David Halberstam’s Summer of ’49, about the Yankees/Red Sox race of that season (when the Yankees had had age problems and many injuries, including to Dimag, Henrich, and Berra). Halberstam talks about the “RA” (i.e., Red Ass) tradition on the team, whereby the veterans policed each other and the younger players with their hard, “red ass” ways:

      In 1948 Yogi Berra did not seem to understand that baseball as played on this team was a deadly serious matter…. [Yogi had FAILED TO RUN OUT a pop-up that turned out to cost a run, making it only to first.] After the inning Berra came in to strap on his catcher’s equipment. Charlie Keller came over to him ‘You feeling all right, Yogi?’ he asked. ‘Yeah, I’m fine,’ Berra said. ‘Then why the hell didn’t you run it out?’ Keller asked. Those were hard words…. [Johnny] Lindell immediately joined in. Berra looked over to DiMaggio as if to ask for help…. DiMaggio gave him a withering look. Eddie Lopat, who had watched the entire scene unfold, thought to himself. Now I know why this team is special.

      An interesting (to me), at least, point about this red ass tradition was the degree to which it turned on what we could call the “economics” of 1940s baseball. “You’re playing with my money,” i.e., my potential World Series money, if you: don’t bust ass down the line, laugh in the dugout during a losing game, etc. Now, ehh…what the hell? We don’t need that Series dough the way those poor-ass guys in 1949 did.

      Those poor-ass, aging guys would go on to win that pennant and the next 5 World Series.

      • Kramerica Industries

        I feel like I remember reading something similar to that about Yogi in Richard Ben Cramer’s book about Joe DiMaggio. I’ve read both books, so I might just be mixing things up.

        In any case, Yogi got the point – he caught more games than any catcher in the AL in the years that followed that incident.

      • AdamC6

        That’s a great story TomH. Thanks.

  • Greg

    Maybe we are just nit very good.

  • JohnC

    Get Nunez and Cervelli in the lineup tonight. Need some fire and enthuisiasm. Can’t hurt

    • Knoxvillain

      Cervelli sucked in AAA and I’d rather have Andy Fox hit instead of Nunez. That means he has to play the field.

      • JohnC

        Put Nunez in LF and Martin has sucked at the big league level all year so how can it hurt to play Cervelli?

        • Knoxvillain

          Why? He doesn’t play the OF. Martin has sucked, that’s true. But Cervelli sucked just as bad in AAA, so he will probably be worse in New York.

  • Knoxvillain

    It’s hard to see this team in the playoffs right now. If the season ended today they wouldn’t win a single ALDS game unless they were playing the Twins. This shit needs to change soon because it’s getting old.

    At the end of the day, the team is simply not very good. They will finish in 3rd place this year and out of the playoffs. Hopefully they turn it around before it’s too late.

  • M&M Boys

    The O’s, Nats, & Rays have this figured out. Start losing 100 games a year for several seasons and get a bunch of high 1st round draft choices. And then make some smart trades.

    • JohnnyC

      Goldman, is that you?

  • Better off Eddard

    Here’s the bottom line- Hiroki Kuroda MUST win tonight and he likely cannot allow a single run to do it. We MUST take 3/4 in Baltimore. Then we’ll likely have our 2 game lead back. Otherwise, it’s over.

  • Ro

    As an all around baseball fan I find myself in the weird position of being happy for the O’s. I also feel some vindication that I’ve been saying for two years straight now that the O’s were a better team or would play better than many expect. As a Yank fan, this blows.

    The Yankees can still make this right and open things up a bit. They have exactly 4 games left against the Rays (3 – home 1- away) and 4 against the O’s this weekend, at Camden, a place where the Yanks have always played well. They pretty much need to win 6 of those 8 games. Something big to ask for, but absolutely possible. Winning 3 out of 4 against both teams would put them 2 games up. The other 19 games are just as important, but these 8 can really give them some space. I agree, today the guys need to be looking at this as a new season and now should challenge themselves to “get a lead” versus losing the lead in the standings. Hopefully the change of this mentality and not playing defensively works for them. Yeah the bullpen hasn’t been great. Yeah the starting pitching has been perfect, but neither has really done them under as much as their offense not hitting and scoring runs. I can remember the last time I saw the team string together 3 or 4 consecutive hits. I can’t remember in months seeing them starting a rally with 2 outs at the bottom of the 5th or something. The consistency with their hitting is just not there, at all.

  • Frank Messer

    what do you think Jeter, Pettitte and Mo talk about these days behind closed doors? Is the talent & clutchicity of their early teams still fresh enough in their minds to pain them right now?

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      They were all also part of squads that struggled at times and still won. Not all of those 90’s teams were machine-like. The ’96 and 2000 clubs had plenty of issues of their own and still came out on top.

      • Frank Messer

        of course, so back to my original question – what do you think these guys talk about? The struggles of those teams, or what’s missing among their current teammates?

        • Bartolo’s Colon

          they probably talk about their piles of cash and the chicks that they slept with the night before, i know i would if i was them

          • Frank Messer


            For Mo and Pettitte, those days are long gone, but Jete is still pulling chix.

  • VCR1111

    No, this team does not need motivation. No, this team does not need to start hustling. No this team does not need to start bunting. No, this team does not need to get energized. That is not the problem. The problem is that this team is just not talented enough. What they need to do is get healthy.

    As frustrating as it is, this team needs to continue and wait for Teixiera, Pettitte, Granderson, and ARod to return to full health and hopefully play up to their potential.

    Otherwise, this team will continue to depend on Ibanez, Jones, Ichiro, Martin, Dickerson, Nix, Stewart, Chavez, and Garcia. The guys just mentioned are not talented enough to carry a team, and it has resulted in a lot of losses. It doesn’t help that Swisher is now in a slump which makes our lineup even shorter.

    This current Yankee team is not capable of putting mulitple runs up in multiple innings. I think that has been obvious. Like I have been saying for weeks, the pitching needs to be exceptional. It’s been good, ok, and in some cases bad…not exceptional.

    • Mike Axisa

      I love when I get accused of being a Hughes apologist.

      • radnom

        You realize that just because you overreacted in the other direction once doesn’t mean squat in regards to your current position. I’m not calling anyone an apologist, just saying.

        • BigDavey88

          Ahhh, here we are.

    • JohnnyC

      Typical rambling monologue from an amnesiac.

    • VCR1111

      I’m not sure Wise and/or Fukudome would make a difference. The point is the injuries are just too much. I could not disagree more with Girardi when he says “these guys have fought through adversity”. In fact, they haven’t. But it’s not from lack of effort or because they don’t care. It’s just lack of talent.

      When you lose your starting left fielder, closer, potential number 2 starting pitcher for the season, plus your starting third baseman, first baseman, center fielder, number 3 starter (Pettitte) for a substantial amount of time, you’re going to lose a lot of games. It doesn’t matter what team you are. That’s too much talent to lose.

      Hughes had to become a number 3 when in fact, if the team was healthy, he would probably be a number 5. You cannot build your team from the assumption that your team will be desimated with injuries. Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, and Chris Stewart is a pretty good bench. Unfortunately, they’ve been our starters.

  • Jimmy Is Key To David’s Cone

    “Anyway, the Yankees made their bed by playing sub-.500 ball since the All-Star break, so now instead of coasting to the finish line and making sure everyone is well prepared for the postseason, the playoffs basically start today.”

    This is why the season is over already, whether or not they manage to claw their way into the playoffs. They are not good enough and will be too old/tired to make it past first round. The ineptitude that’s been so frustrating the last month isn’t new — we saw plenty of it in last year’s ALDS.

    • Bartolo’s Colon

      i disagree, the playoffs show that the best team does not always win. i worry much more about getting into the playoffs themselves. they have played sub .500 ball for two months, if they do that over the next 27 games, no postseason. if they get into the postseason, they have a good shot, especially if they win the division

      • JohnnyC

        You’re both correct. The thing that worries me about Jimmy’s point is that the Yankees are an old team. Unlike the Cardinals say of last season who weren’t gassed by having to scramble into the playoffs. If the Yankees do sprint into the playoffs, are we sure they’ll have anything at all left in the tank, especially pitching-wise?

  • DR

    Well, they had a lead… (SFW)

  • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

    I have a slightly different view, lets continue using the whole “giving a presentation” metaphor. As of last night the Yankees just got called to the front of the class to start their presentation, one they haven’t really prepared for all that well, and now they have to go up to the front of the class and give that presentation over the next 27 games. So as of right now, instead of feeling relieved that it’s over my nervousness is bubbling over as I slowly walk to the front of the the class checking my pockets for the flash drive w/ my power point presentation on it.

  • thenamestsam

    The bright side is that I think momentum matters way less than most people think. The Os are playing fantastic and the Yanks are playing awful but that just doesn’t predict much about how they’ll be playing tomorrow. Even the current depleted state of the Yankees is still a stronger team than what Baltimore is running out there in my eyes and so I still like our chances in this 27 game season. Even a cursory glance at history gives dozens of examples of teams that looked doomed until all of the sudden they weren’t any more. Just like the first stretch of horrible play this season there’s no way of knowing when it will end because there’s no rhyme or reason to it. The team is only playing horribly until they’re not again.

    • M&M Boys

      “Even the current depleted state of the Yankees is still a stronger team than what Baltimore is running out there in my eyes”


      The Yankees have bigger names and bigger salaries. The Orioles have younger, better players who are only going to keep improving. And they have a couple more high, 1st round draft choices on the way up.

  • OldYanksFan

    I’m trying to find some good news.
    … We have 4 games left against TB and 4 left against the O’s.
    We only really need to play .500 ball those 8 games.
    … The Rays/Oreos have 6 games, so it will be hard for them to both
    chase us. This includes the last 3 days of the season, at Baltimore.

    … TB has 3 more against Texas and 4 more against the White Sox.

    … Our last 16 games:
    7 against Toronto (3 at Home)
    3 against Oakland (at Home)
    3 against Minnesota
    3 against Red Sox (at Home, to end the season)

    As things go, that a very decent schedule.

    • VCR1111

      Yanks need to get healthy. Plain and simple. This current roster is not going to win miraculously. Regardless of the schedule, if the Yanks do not get healthy and get their hitters back and playing close to their potential (Teixiera, ARod, Granderson)they will not win.

  • Ro

    Just occurred to me, but maybe the Yanks can get one of those cut out boards of a person that you can strip like in the movie Major League. One piece of clothing comes off for every win until the end of the season. Why not, all else has already failed, so it’s worth a try. Any suggestions for who they should be stripping? :)

    • DC

      How about Suzyn? Except she’s nude and every win puts an article of clothing back on her.

  • genteme

    You can’t do too much when your lineup filled with old men and low average player.
    1.Raul, Andrew, Ichiro: They used to be very good players, but they become old and exhausted. I want but could not hope them become their old type this season. As a result, if Teix can’t back on time, that means we may have two automatic outs at outfield.
    2.Chavez: He had been good this season, but started to fatigue after play so many games instead of staying on bench.
    3.Martin: He is useless so far, though he hit some HRs this year, but c’mon, AVG below .200 would be shit unless he hit 30+ HR.
    4.Grandy: powerful guy but can’t get too many hits and strikeout too much. .233/.325/.480 this season.
    5.A-Rod : good season, but .275/.355/.444 just not enough what we want from him.
    6.Teixeira: .255/.335/.478 not bad, but didn’t really smash. That wasn’t the number produced from a 20M+ 1B.
    7.No blame for Cano and Jeter, cause they had been awesome for all season.
    As I mentioned before, we didn’t had good prospect to support our lineup, so when DL knock the door, we would be in serious trouble.
    Right now,the Yanks just not the playoff team, their rotation had lots of question marks and their lineup still not figure out yet. Dont’ forget the bullpen, hell, If they didn’t get the lead after 7th inning,I believed there was no chance for them to win. They would be crushed by BAL,TB,CWS,DET,TEX,OAK if off-season began tomorrow. Hope they start to put it together, since there were still 27 games left.

    • Tim

      Are you talking about the Detroit team that just lost the first 2 to Cleveland and got swept by KC? Or the Chicago team that got swept by Detroit? Or the Oakland team getting beat down by LAA? Or the Tampa team that lost 4 in a row to Toronto and Oakland?

  • Tim

    Maybe you can slip a copy of this to Joe this afternoon? It’s a great way to look at it and well said.

  • rek4gehrig

    Totally agree and essentially what I said after last night’s loss.
    It’s a brand new season. 27 games to go. May the best team win.

  • thurdonpaul

    a pennant race keeps your heart pumping strong, lets go Yankees !