The Yankees and bad Septembers


(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Perhaps the most memorable September in (recent) Yankees history wasn’t even one that was worth remembering. The 2000 squad went 13-17 in September, losing their final seven and 13 of their final 15 games to end the season. That club still managed to win the division — by three games after being nine up as late as Game 143 — and eventually went on to win the World Series, however. I can only imagine what the reaction to that September slump would have been had the internet existed in its current state back then.

Anyway, this September collapse isn’t like that 2000 “collapse” at all. In fact, this isn’t even a September collapse. It started way back in late-July and has dragged on for weeks now. The struggles this month — four wins in ten games — have the Yankees tied atop the AL East for the fourth time in the last week. They haven’t been more than two games up in the division since the first of the month and have won just one (!) of their last six series. This isn’t quite a full blown 2011 Red Sox collapse — they won just seven games total in September — but let’s not kid ourselves, they aren’t doing much better.

Bad Septembers are nothing new for the Bombers, especially of late. The Yankees lost their final four games of last season and eleven of their last 21 games overall, but they were assured a playoff spot either as the division winner or wildcard. Their lead was too big heading into September. The 2010 team lost eight of its final eleven games and 17 of 30 in September (and October since the regular season spilled over), but again they still qualified for the postseason without much of a problem. Over the last three seasons, the Yankees are just 33-35 (and counting) in the final month of the regular season.

The poor finishes are a relatively new phenomenon for the Bombers. They went 20-11 in September (and October) in 2009 despite having little to play for and plenty of reasons to rest their regulars before the playoffs. The 2008 team is the only Yankees squad to miss the postseason in the last 17 years, but they still managed to go 17-9 during the final month of the season. New York had a winning record in September every season from 2001-2009, and I’m not talking one or two games over either. Their worst September record during that nine-year period was 18-12 in 2006.

For whatever reason, the Yankees haven’t had much success in September these last three years. Maybe it’s just the randomness of baseball, but after nine years of one thing and three of the other, I tend to think there’s something else going on. It’s say to say they’re just an old team and their core players get worn out, but their best players this month have been Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. We could argue all day about the root causes of these bad Septembers, specifically this one right now, but the Yankees have to turn things around and soon. The wildcard situation isn’t as friendly as before and the overall race for playoff spots is too tight to sleepwalk through another September.

Categories : Musings


  1. I keep thinking back to that 2000 team. I remember people flipping out as that season closed and writing them off. Obviously, that club was coming off of winning 3 of the last 4 World Series and people were still down on them. Hoping for the same end result. Even planning for it. I had the choice of two projects in an MBA class today. One is over the course of the week of the World Series. I chose the other.

  2. Yah. This has been a tough month to watch. You gotta blame someone though besides Kate Hudson for being absent

  3. RossA says:

    When guys like Granderson and Swisher and their other corner OF players put up replacement player numbers….and you lose Teixeira and ARod…..and you have essentially 2 replacement level pitchers in the starting rotation… can you expect to play anything other than sub-.500 ball?

    It isn’t the manager, it isn’t the general manager. It’s the players. They either suck, or they aren’t in the lineup, or they are in a massive slump.

    Maybe the silver lining will be that they sneak into the playoffs and suddenly get hot. It’s all we can hope for.

  4. Frank Messer says:

    direct correlation the growing lack of contact hitters in their primes over the course of the past 3 years.

  5. I WISH september was the only problem…

    • VT Yankee Fan says:

      Seriously, they have played .500 over their last 68 games. If the race had been closer we would have been complaining all through July and August too.

  6. Better off Eddard says:

    If this team can’t finish with a winning record against this schedule then they need to blow the whole thing up. Red Sox, Twins, Jays make up 13 of the September ballgames. That’s as easy as you can get for an AL East team so if they can’t get the job done then Girardi needs to go along with all his coaches, Grandy needs to be traded, Swisher needs to be shown the door along with Jones and Ibanez, Cashman needs to be put on notice and Jeter needs to be made Player/Manager.

    • blow it up? how?

      I’m all for trading Granderson…although I’m not sure that his value is at all very high right now.

      I guess you could find a taker for CC….the Dodgers wanted him, but that’s a big contract, but I suppose in the NL it would be attractive.

      Tex…I’m sure you’d find takers, but I like Tex, think he still have value here.

      Then there was A-Rod. No one, no one is taking that contract unless the Yanks eat at least half of it, and I don’t even think that would lure teams in.

  7. Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

    You’re never as good as you look when things are going well and never as bad as you look when things are going poorly but with that said, this team sure looks like it’s on their last lap around the toilet.

  8. not that mike says:

    IMO the answer to their september swoon(s) isnt the older players – its that the weak underbelly of the roster – the bench, lack of young players to give regulars a day off, poor starting pitching which kills the pen and no in season adjustments with player promotions or significant trades etc – faces increased exposure as the year goes on, and with each game it becomes more pronounced.

    Once those additional innings add up, both on the legs of the regulars and on the staff, there is no relief to be had and they face diminishing returns.

    • hogsmog says:

      I think it’s sort of a combo- most of the Yankees bench has been older players. As the season goes on and injuries happen, etc, the people who are supposed to be there to fill in the gaps are themselves worn out. I can understand the desire for experience off the bench, and it’s fine to take a year long flier on a star past his prime, but I don’t really like how this year we’re carrying all three of Ibanez, Jones, and Chavez. A youngster brought up too early OBPing .250 is a lot easier to stomach than the same from a vet, from both money and club-future perspectives.

  9. Erica says:

    Working in front of a computer all day makes me silly between the ears.

    We may have detected the source of his issues.

  10. Erica says:

    I’m still holding out hope that we finish the regular season the way we’re supposed to (winning the division)… but I’m sick and tired and SICK AND TIRED of hearing about how things will fall into place, etc.

    Why can’t they have fallen into place already?

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I’m with you, sister. I’ve also put so much more distance between me and the team right now. My inner Greg can only take so much right now. I’ve probably watched less games in the past two weeks than I have in a long time.

      Just tell me things are better, or tell me they’re not. On the team’s side, I don’t give a shit whether it’s Alex Rodriguez or Sam Pearce. Just fucking win ballgames.

      • Erica says:

        Same here. I can’t be arsed to actually pay attention to any of the games because it feels like a literal waste of time. I’m not saying they should win every game (impossible), but put that effort in. The talent is there.

        Sam Pearce? I think you mean Shaniqua Pearce. I fixed it for you.

      • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

        One good think about the Yankees is at least they waited for football season to start before completely going into the tank. I will commend them on their timing.

    • RetroRob says:

      Who says everything will fall into place? It might, but the team is into month six of the season, and two months of .500 ball. The team is what it is, flaws and all!

  11. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I don’t particularly see a pattern to “bad Septembers,” as I don’t think injuries which expose the soft underbelly have been as prevalent as they’ve been this year in a while. I’m certainly open to arguments that go beyond “teh Cashman sux and he has no depth in teh AAA” and somehow end in “they should have kept DeWayne Wise,” though.

    • Erica says:

      I will maintain that Cervelli should’ve been our backup catcher.

    • The Laughing Troll says:

      They SHOULD have kept DeWayne Wise. That was an idiotic move on Cashman’s behalf. Also . . . . do you spend ALL day on this site? I’ve noticed at least a hundred different posts and replies written by you today alone.

      • Erica says:

        Some of us certainly spend time on here all day. Work can be slow/boring and I know quite a few of us are searching for answers about this team any way we can. The way to do that? Discuss, hash out, pick apart.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        How much time you see me on here is completely dependent on what my work day is like. If I’m doing nothing but typing on the computer, and I’m hitting all sorts of creative walls and/or not enjoying what I’m doing at the moment, you’ll see what you’re seeing. If my day is full of meetings and being outside of the office, you won’t hear from me at all. Draw your own conclusions as to what today was.

  12. RetroRob says:

    There is no September collapse. September is unknown. What is known is this team has been pretty mediocre since the All-Star break, and if they continue down that path they won’t win. The causes really don’t matter. Yet, as I said before, if they can finish strong and maintain into the postseason (in other words, get hot at the right time), then this painful stretch will be forgotten.

    • Erica says:

      I may get slaughtered for saying this, but part of me has been wishing that they don’t make it into the postseason. I’d rather be disappointed now than get excited about their postseason hopes… and THEN be crushed.

      • Stop it. Let’s just get in, reset, and see how it plays out. Even if they get swept in the first round, I’d muchhhh rather get in and not spend the winter thinking about the whole regular season collapse.

      • RetroRob says:

        I want the Yankees to make it as far as possible every season. Win the division, win the ALDS, win the ALCS, win the WS. They’ll rarely get to the last one, win the WS. Since the team basically became what we now think of as the NY Yankees in 1920, they’ve won 27 world championships out of 92 attempts. That’s 65 times of disappointment, and they are the most successful franchise ever. That’s a 29% success rate. The #2 team can’t even be seen in their rear-view mirror.

        Yet it’s more difficult than ever. The Yankees are not going to win it all 29% of the time with the multiple levels of series and the overall level of competitiveness. Since the Steinbrenner era, the Yankees have won it all 18% of the time. No other team is remotely close. (If you want to remove all arbitrary start points, the Yankees are at a 24% win-it-all rate since their inception.) What the Yankees accomplished from ’96-’01 was as great a run as any team has ever had, equal to if not greater than the Yankees that won five straight because the playoff structure.

        Moving forward, the Yankees are going to win at lower rates, but as long as they are committed to being the NY Yankees, they will still win it more than other teams. Most years they’re going to fall short, yet I want them to get as far as possible every year.

  13. Jones' Nipples says:

    I truly would like to see the kids come u and play the next few weeks: Melky Mesa, Austin Tyler, Austin Jackson, Bronson Sardinha, and Jose Tabata

    • I started to write a response. Then saw the last few names.

    • Athenian says:

      They would be great to see but let’s remember that the use of “real” prospects or younger talent in the farm system is not to play them in legitimate MLB games, instead to keep their overall potential a mystery so that they can be properly traded to add another aging veteran who will sign on oversized contract that will be essential serve as a reward for all the success that play had prior to signing with the Yankees.

      Players in Yankee farm system are (1) trade bait first (2) used ONLY out of necessity, but NEVER for the purpose of actually winning games.

  14. Jones' Nipples says:

    I truly would like to see the kids come u and play the next few weeks: Melky Mesa, Austin Tyler, Austin Jackson, Bronson Sardinha, and Jose TabataB

  15. Frank says:

    This is more than just September. Take away June when they went 20-7, this team has played .500 ball the rest of the season. This is an old team which everyone knew would have problems if they were hit with a slew of injuries. Such has been the case. Coupled with some questionable personnel decisions and the fact they had no viable replacement options available at the AAA level,I’m not at all surprised they are barely hanging on. Even if they get in, they aren’t going deep in the playoffs.

    • FIPster Doofus says:

      “Even if they get in, they aren’t going deep in the playoffs.”

      Probably not, but who really knows? The postseason is weird. Get there and then see what happens.

      • jjyank says:

        Yep. I didn’t think the Cards would win last year when the post season started. It’s almost as if…you…can’t…predict…BASEBALL!

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      I hate to say it but I really think the Yankees are in a transitional period until the next group of core players from the group of Banuelos, Williams, Sanchez, Heathcott, Austin, Campos, Flores, Gumbs, Ramirez, etc are ready.

      Next year, the Yankees will probably be without Swisher and Soriano, may be without Pettitte and Kuroda and vets like Jeter, Arod, Granderson, CC and Teixiera will be a year older.

    • Athenian says:

      Remove April and August(32-18) – Orioles were 41-40 in between. –

      Remove April and June(33-16) – Yankees were 42-40 in between

      Remove April and August(32-19) – Rays were 39-42 in between.

      Difference between all three teams, September. Yankees are 4-6, Rays 6-3, Orioles 6-4.

      Yankees held a better record counting their 2 best months and in their averages months. But really it isn’t September, it is also the failure of the Yankees to put many games between their division opponents.

      Orioles: 9-9vNYY; 7-6vTBR; 8-4vBOS; 9-5vTOR = 33-24 – +9
      Yankees: 9-9vBAL; 6-9vTBR; 8-5vBOS; 6-5vTOR = 29-28 – +1
      Rays: 9-6vNYY; 6-7vBAL; 5-7vBOS; 11-4vTOR = 31-24 – +7

  16. JLC 776 says:

    For a random over-reactionary statement: If the Phillies make the post-season but the Yankees don’t, I think I need to try to quit watching baseball for a year.

  17. Beepernps says:

    I dont see how the Yanks will make the playoffs, yet even last in the playoffs. If this team blows contention, they need to rebuild. If the sox were brave enough to do it, so should the Yankees. First offer Cano 5 x 20 for 100MM extension. If he says no, Brian should trade him ASAP. I think Granderson should be traded as well, maybe in a package with Cano. Cano is expecting at least 8X20, and he will be lucky to be good for 3 more years. He peaked last year. Hes going downhill, and I think his skills are a byproduct of chemicals. I think the team can be rebuilt to take advantage of 2014 when some of the kids will be promoted, and some keen free agent purchases.

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