How to survive a “collapse”

The pitching staff and the ALDS roster
Yankees considering Pettitte for Game Two, Kuroda for Game Three

If you waded into the RAB comments a month ago, you’d have thought the Yankees were on their way from first to last. It wasn’t just limited to this site, of course; Yankees fans everywhere complained that this team was done, that they had no chance, that it was obvious to anyone who knew anything about baseball that they were going to miss the playoffs.

Yet here we sit, the Yankees taking a much-needed three-day vacation after having secured the best record in the American League. Funny how that works out: the team that was the best for more than two-thirds of the season ended the season on top, despite hitting a rough patch.

Apologies to those of you who didn’t lose your cool. There were undoubtedly a number of fans who remained levelheaded, and many of them frequent RAB. I’m sure your lives were much more pleasant from August 16 through September 11, when the Yankees went 9-15 and saw a six-game lead turn into a tie for first.

Don’t get me wrong: that time was no fun. But it involved a series of events over which we had no control. While we do get invested in the sport — some of us more than is healthy — it’s sheer insanity to let it affect other facets of your life. The fact that the Yankees had played so well up to that point — they had the best record in the AL by 2.5 games — should have bought them a little slack as they hit a rough patch. That they were missing some key players, including their ace and two middle of the order hitters, should have bought them even more.

Honestly, it was relatively easy to weather this storm. All you need to do is fine something else remotely interesting to take your mind off matters. I suggest some of the more blatant trolls on RAB try this. Not only will you feel better in the head, but you’ll be much more pleasant in the comments sections. We’d all appreciate that.

Read a book. It’s the great cure for nearly any stressful situation. Just find a book, any book, and start reading. I guarantee it’ll help you get over your favorite baseball team losing a few games. You might even learn something in the process. Plus, you could uncover some lines that prove prophetic.

“The Yankees cannot lose.”

“But I fear the Indians of Cleveland.”

“Have faith in the Yankees my son. Think of the great DiMaggio.”

“In the American League it is the Yankees as I said,” the old man said happily.

“They lost today,” the boy told him.

“That means nothing. The great DiMaggio is himself again.”

– Ernest Hemingway, Old Man and the Sea

I imagine the last part of that conversation coming on Saturday, after the loss to Toronto, only replacing DiMaggio with Cano.

Immerse yourself in another hobby or — gasp — work. When the Yankees were losing games it actually became easier to focus on work. Yeah, weird, right? But without the pressing need to finish by 7 so I could flip on the game, it became easier to sit down and really dig deep into something. I got to test out an all-in-one PC from Lenovo, which was fun as anything. I also got to some serious writing, which is typically quite difficult during baseball season. But it could have been building model solar systems, cracking passwords, or any number of hobbies.

Remember the past. You don’t even have to look to previous seasons to see how a team can wax and wane during a season. The Yankees went 11-15 from April 24 through May 21 before going 25-7 from the 22nd through June 27th.

Do — anything, really. Sorry for coming off as condescending, but it’s really straight forward stuff. If the Yankees bother you that much, turn your attention elsewhere. They’ll be there when you get back. It doesn’t make you a bad fan to turn it off when it makes you upset. What makes you a bad fan is watching, getting mad, and making a fool of yourself in front of others. Sure, it might just be an internet message board or social media service, but you’re still acting the fool. To me that’s far more egregious than turning away and avoiding those ill feelings.

As we’d say back in the olden days:


Honestly, the past few days have been quite wonderful. They’ve been somewhat stressful, because there remained the chance the Yankees would play the play-in-game, or even a playoff for the AL East crown. But that’s just part of baseball’s normal excitement. Plus, when Raul Ibanez hit that homer in the bottom of the ninth, was there any doubt left in your mind that they’d take the AL East?

It was a rough month in the middle there, for sure. There’s nothing not frustrating about a 9-15 stretch that eliminates a six-game lead. But that doesn’t invalidate the previous 114 games, nor does it mean the slide will continue for the final 21 games of the season. And, of course, the Yankees went 16-5 in those final 21, which brought their final record closely in line with the .592 winning percentage they had before the collapse began.

Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. It’s baseball. It happens.

The pitching staff and the ALDS roster
Yankees considering Pettitte for Game Two, Kuroda for Game Three
  • Dirty Pena

    I don’t see “defend other tragic tweeting/commenting” on here. Must be on Ross’ blog.

  • Eddard reboot v.1.0

    I said months ago that they’d win the division and that it was locked up. It got a little close for comfort but they never fell out of first place. I think coming back to the pack will help the club in the postseason because they’re already in that mindset. They’ve been playing must win ballgames for the past 2-3 weeks and we’ve gotten clutch performances from Ichiro, Robbie, Ibanez and Dave Phelps. This will help us in the playoffs.

  • Sam

    Watching the Yankees during their “collapse” is still better than watching the Jets.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Hah, this is true.

  • Steve (different one)

    Easiest way to survive a collapse: think “things feel bad at the moment, but I could be a Sox or Mets fan right now…”

  • Graig not Craig

    Where was this excellent psychiatric analysis when Chuck Knoblauch suffered Steve Sax syndrome, Dr. Joe?

  • BK2ATL

    Easiest way for me to have survived this almost “collapse” was simply to stay off this board (and all other Yankees’ boards, for that matter), and most definitely out of the game threads…. Some really crazy stuff was being posted around here.

    Last night was such a wonderful night for the Bombers…and to do it in Game 162 vs. Boston AND put up a 14-2 score….great way to end the season and I’m sure made a lot of folks have to eat their words. Our guys came through, as they’ve done all year.

    Now on to the playoffs with a rested and full squad again. Look forward to seeing #28 being won this year vs. Washington!!!!!

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      I actually find this site to be sort of therapeutic in way when things are going bad. I think that I actually post here more when they stink. Sure, there’s a lot of nuts that overreact, but coming up with ideas and reasons why it’ll turn around is fun.

    • Austin Aunelowitzky

      Yeah, I avoided the game threads for a few weeks too, and got into the Political season with the conventions…
      Now…it’s PLAY BALL !

  • RetroRob

    Losing periods are always painful, and good teams pretty much all go through 20, 30, 40, sometimes even 50-game stretches where they’re just not all that good. Yet in the end, the Yankees still won 95 games.

    When the Yankee built that ten-game lead it was quite unrealistic. It was very rapid, just as it was when they lost their lead. Their hot streak coincided with a cold stretch by the other division players. That evened out. Yet they were in good shape to win the division by six to twelve games in most years. I expected the Rays to be the team to close the gap with their pitching, but the main issue turned out to be the Orioles who kept winning in impossible ways. They compiled the greatest record by far in one-run games in the entire HISTORY of the American League. Flukes like that can’t be accounted for in baseball. They just happen sometimes. As I noted in one of the threads, if the Orioles keep winning these close games at this pace, then the Yankees might lose the division even if they play well. Can’t really worry aboutt hat. Yet in the end, the Yankees still won despite the substantial injuries and the incredible run by Baltimore.

    As for the trolls and the ledge jumpers, they’ll be back. Soon as the Yankees are behind by a run. The trolls I don’t care about. I ignore them once I recognize their trolls. The serious fans who are always so negative, even when things are going well, are the true mystery. Life for them must suck 24/7.

  • Andrew J.

    We are not the Red Sox (or Braves) of 2011.

    • RetroRob

      The Yankees were never even close. Losing 21 of 28, or whatever the Red Sox did last September, was hardly in the cards. They lost to the Rays last year not because the Rays were playing great ball; they lost last year because they collapsed.

      The Yankees on the other hand were playing well in September and pretty much were going to be in the postseason. They just were trying to avoid being one of the Wild Cards. Unlike the Rays last year, the Orioles were making their own destiny.

      • Kevin

        Geniune question – was the Sox’s collapse of September 2011 better or worse than their ‘continuation of rubbishness’ of September 2012?

        • RetroRob

          Better or worse for who? As a Yankee fan, the whole mess has been enjoyable to watch. September last year was historic, so that was even more enjoyable. 2012 they just sucked.

  • A.D.

    was there any doubt left in your mind that they’d take the AL East?

    Yeah not really, seemed destiny-ish at that point

  • OMG! Bagels!

    This is good but I wish it came like 3 weeks or 6 weeks ago or maybe 9 weeks ago. The out of control trolls make reading RAB game threads impossible in close games or games when the other team scores a run in the first inning. There have been many a night I just gave up. Most prominent example I can think of is stuart ragging on Arod relentlessly prior to him hitting the GS in Atlanta. Then crickets. Then back to all negativity all the time. So tiring.

    I’ve been a Yankee fan all my life and they win every game and they don’t go all the way every season, but those who live and die inning to inning are just incredibly tiresome. Much more tiresome than the idea of a Yankee collapse.

    Sorry to put this /rant here, but honestly, it’s just what I’m tired of at the end of the season. Not the Yankees or their “win some/lose some” way of playing baseball which is sort of everyone’s way of playing baseball. The Yankees just win more, year after year, than most. So bitching about another team scoring a run in the first inning and declaring the team dead by the second is just getting very old.

    • OMG! Bagels!

      *they don’t win every game (I know, horrors!)

  • jjyank

    +10000 on everthing in this post. It needed to be said.

    • Joe F


      I read your message from yesterday. Couldn’t find you. So here.

      Email is

      • jjyank

        Word. I’m still at work, but I’ll hit you up when I get home later.

        • Joe F

          Sounds good.

  • Frank Messer

    is it too early to start griping that the Yankees won’t make the playoffs NEXT year?

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Maybe a tad, but you can certainly lament on how Cashman has failed to put together a roster capable of winning it all this year.

  • steves

    Wow Joe. Talk about being hoisted by your own petard (Shakespeare rather than Hemingway) or biting the hand that feeds! I’m sure the last month was a banner month for hits/comments on this site. Losing your “cool” and the reactions to those who do makes RAB a more interesting read during the stressful moments especially in the game threads and really is more at what being a fan/fanatic is about (the definition of fanatic says it all: marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion). Instead of apologizing for being condescending you should probably be more concerned about turning into a “get off my lawn” curmudgeon. Lighten up. Life is good!

    • handtius

      Steves, I have to say I disagree. When your blood boils and a remote is thrown across the room or a hole punched in a wall, that is not a person in control and is someone who is most likely headed for some sort of health issue, mental and/or physical. I’ve brought this fact up in the past. After Boone hit HR in 2003, Boston, and the surrounding areas, saw a dramatic spike in hospital admission that evening and the following morning. The death rate actually spiked that day as well. As much as I dislike the Sox and most of their fans strictly on stereotyping, I don’t wish harm to any of them. In the same token, I want my fellow Yankee fans to live a long life and not create issue with themselves that don’t need to be there. I post right below. Take a gander at the zen baseball link. It’s a good thing.

      • steves

        I agree with you 100% about physically harming yourself and others; that’s clearly a line in the sand. Expressing yourself via a message board is quite tame by comparison and often pretty entertaining. I’m pretty zen in all other facets of my life so being non-zen in this one aspect gives me a little welcome balance I guess.

        • handtius

          Obviously it’s to each there own, but I don’t think it’s good. I’ve seen people go through some rough shit watching sports and letting it get to them. If you lashing out on a message board, you’re probably pretty loud and worked up off the web.

  • handtius

    Hear fucking hear! I’ve been asking for a repeat of some Zen Baseball for a long while. You guys had a great article on it back a ways. Here’s a link: Zen Baseball. Baseball is supposed be something you enjoy, not dread. Win or lose, the game is fun. That’s why we watch. Not just because they win. If that’s the case, then you’re most likely a fair weather fan or have rather negative disposition. Get out of that funk and enjoy this game. When ever it gets bad, just thank mo himself, that we’re not Twins fans or Royals fans or please no, Astro fans. We are lucky to have a team that usually wins 90+ games a year and has been doing so for more then a decade. Not many teams can say that, none I think. So enjoy the game and realize that they can’t win every game and can’t win every World Series. The world does not end with baseball or any sport, it’s an extension of it.

    • jjyank

      Zen baseball FTW. I’ll admit, there were times over the rough stretch where I turned the game off and got my xbox on, but I refuse to be an entitled Yankee fan who gets all pissy when they are ONLY in first place by a slim margin.

      Seriously, other fan bases must think most Yankee fans are really pathetic.

      • handtius

        I agree with that. I don’t want it to happen, but if/when they go through a playoff drought, you’ll see who the real fans are and who sticks by the team regardless of their record. If we had a season like the sox did this year, a lot of heads would explode and a ton of people would abandon the team and the blogs. scary to think, but it’s not impossible.

  • Malrick

    “replacing DiMaggio with Cano.”

    My grandfather is spinning in his grave. No one replaces the great DiMaggio.

    • Tom Morea

      There was only one Joseph Paul of May. There is nobody out there in professional baseball that can be compared to him.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        There was only one Teddy Fucking Ballgame too, and he was better.

        • ColoYank

          Um, well, not according to T.F. Ballgame himself. It was well-recorded that he thought DiMaggio his superior.

          • Sweet Dick Willie

            Both were before my time, but:

            TFB: 344/482/634 190 OPS+

            JDM: 325/398/579 155 OPS+

            How is DiMag superior? Maybe Ted had an inferiority complex?

            Also, the lifetime 482 OBP is the best in MLB history.

            Ted’s comments/opinion notwithstanding, I stand by my assertion that Williams was better.

            • Tom Morea

              Sweet Dick, Colo Yank was giving you the real information regarding Williams’ own words. No words coming out of your filthy mouth can change that!

          • Tom Morea

            Colo Yank, your comment regarding Williams and DiMaggio was right on. However,it is useless to communicate with Pig-Headed posters. Incidentally, when I made my original statement regarding Joseph Paul of May that there was nobody out there in professional baseball that could be compared to him, I was referring to all the current players today, not to yesteryear’s greats.

        • Tom Morea

          Sweet Dick,Ted Williams was considered a mediocre left fielder with little or no arm. The Great DiMaggio was a premier center fielder with a great arm. As a matter of fact, Ted Williams wrote in his autobiography that Williams thought he was a better hitter than Joseph Paul, however, he could not compete with the Great DiMaggio as an all-around ballplayer. These were Williams’ words!

  • Ed

    I wonder what the comments would have been like if RAB was around in September ’98. I imagine the comments during that 12-15 stretch from mid-August to mid-September would’ve had people convinced that they were a terrible team. I’m sure lots of people would’ve wanted the rookie GM fired for letting such a terrible collapse happen. Probably calls for George to fire Torre too – the ’96 World Series was almost 2 years ago, can’t ride on that forever!

    • gc

      Or when they went down 2 games to 1 to Cleveland in the ALCS that year. The bridge-jumpers would have been all over that one!

  • Joe F

    Hemingway. 11th grade memories.

  • David K.

    We survived by a clutch hit or two from having to play Texas in a one game playoff. So I don’t really get this article. Yeah there were people jumping off the bridge and I don’t blame them. The question now becomes how will we win in the playoffs. We don’t match up favorably against any of these teams. Sabathia suddenly looks old this year (maybe injuries that he’s not disclosing), Kuroda has trouble winning, and Hughes is very unpredictable. Worst of all, the offense looks feeble against any decent pitcher. Our old nemesis, RISP, is lurking around the corner every inning. And Girardi makes Clueless Joe Torre look like a genius. Hate to pop your bubble but I’d be very surprised if we survive the first round.

    • gc

      The bridge is right over there. Don’t forget to scream and wave your arms around on your way down.

      Seriously, EVERY SINGLE TEAM in the AL playoffs has issues. None of them are a lock for anything. They all could easily win the pennant and go to the World Series. They all could easily lose and go home. May as well enjoy it, unless you prefer expecting the worst and getting yourself all tangled into knots about stuff you can’t control. Your choice.

      • David K.

        Oh I’ll enjoy the playoffs, whatever happens. Been a Yankee fan since ’81 so I’ve seen ’em lose, seen ’em win. It’s baseball. But I’m just stating the obvious: our chances, at least on paper, are worse than the other teams.

        • jjyank

          “But I’m just stating the obvious: our chances, at least on paper, are worse than the other teams.”

          I’m willing to bet many Yankee fans don’t see that as obvious at all. Myself included. Yankees have as good of a chance as anyone else.

        • thenamestsam

          Yes, the obvious. It’s not like we’re the favorite to make the world series or co-favorite to win it all.

        • DC

          The obvious: Yankees have tied or won every regular season series against the AL playoff teams, therefore, their chances are less than everyone else.

          /eye roll

    • Luisergi

      27 rings, like 17 play-off apereances in the last 18 seasons… I think you (as in everybody) should know better by now. This organization has earned the benefit of the doubt, at least.

      Just sit back, relax, and thank the good Lord for making you a Yankee (Fan), in case you are of course.

    • Steve (different one)

      The ’78 Yankees were one clutch hit away from not making the playoffs.

      The 2003 Yankees were one big hit away from not winning the pennant.

      If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      There is so much negativity in this comment I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just pick the low hanging fruit.

      Sabathia suddenly looks old this year

      Nebulous statement that contains no facts.


      CC’s last 3 starts:

      8IP 3H 2BB 0R
      8IP 6H 1BB 2R
      8IP 4H 1BB 2R

      I guaran-fucking-tee you every team in the playoffs wished they had a starting pitcher who looked that old.

  • Luisergi

    I just skiped the games and drank on weekends during the bad strech.

    Seriously my liver apreciates the good run, ’cause i just stay at home friday night and saturday morning.

  • Davud

    Its one thing to tell people to chill on your MB’s and not to be rude/ obnoxious/ obscene and generally act all mental, its another thing altogether to start playing Life Coach to people who didn’t solicit your advice.

    Steves makes a good point, you didn’t post this in the midst of the Yank’s poor spell when it was likely a banner time for hits/ comments, now did you? Wasn’t that when it would have been most timely?

    That said, your advice is well put, but here’s a word of advice of my own- If you feel the need to write, “sorry for coming off as condescending…” then guess what?

    You are being condescending.

    • Joe Pawlikowski

      “You are being condescending.”

      That’s why I said “sorry for coming off as condescending” instead of “not to be condescending.”

      Also said “coming off as” rather than “being,” because I don’t think I’m condescending regularly. There’s a difference between acting a way and having that action define your personality.

      Words chosen carefully.

      • Davud

        Guess I buy that, Joe, thanks. Appreciate you taking the time for a clarification.

  • YanksFanInBeantown

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with acting the fool!

    (If you’re Brian Dawkins)

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    When I was very young as the song goes, I would be devastated if the Yankees lost in the WS which occurred with rare frequency. The loss in 55 vs Brooklyn was felt deeply within me. However,the one that hurt the most was the 60 WS which ended on Mazeroski’s home run. After that I never got excited or despaired if they won or lost. And by the way, Hemingway was my favorite author and I read all of his books, but I don’t remember the quote on Dimaggio in
    the Old Man and the Sea.

    • CS Yankee

      Hemingway is a good read.

      I always thought his use of DiMaggio was the old man assurance of his abilities. Hemingway always used his own traits and personal opinions into the leads and used what the Old Man felt he was about…”(he)…is himself again”

      • Tom Morea

        CS Yankee, Hemingway was a close friend of Joseph Paul of May. It should be noted in one of DiMaggio’s biographies, they both attended a championship boxing match. When the crowds swelled around DiMaggio and asked him who the man with the beard was, Hemingway just uttered that he was just a friend of the Yankee Clipper.

    • Tom Q

      Hey, someone who’s been around even longer than me.

      The ’60 series was my very first encounter with the Yankees. Specifically, on the day of Game 7, Sr. Annette Marie told us we didn’t have to do homework that night if the Yanks won the Series. So Mazeroski’s home run was a double bummer for me. (To this day, when people tell me how boring the Yankees are because they “always win”, I flash back to that)

      Things got better right quick, of course.

  • Pinstripes Forever

    A month ago, the trajectory of Baltimore was overwhelming, the Yankees’ underwhelming. And it appeared the battering the Yankees had taken on the disabled list was catching up to them. It certainly appeared the Birds would go rolling past the Yanks.

    But like a distance runner who’d been caught and then refused to yield the lead, the Yanks toughened up and gutted it out. Frustrating Baltimore time and time again. The Yanks deserve credit for showing such pride and determination, such resolve and refusal to allow Baltimore to pass by.

    That said, the AL championship is completely up for grabs this year. Any team in the playoffs could go to the World Series. The Yanks, like all the other teams, will have a tough road to grind. The biggest problem facing the Yanks is that they’ve got a few players who hit home runs, but don’t hit for average. And in the playoffs good pitching prevails over those kinds of hitters. So Jeter, Cano, Swisher, above all, are really going to have to carry the offense. And hopefully between those other guys one or two will do some hitting in each particular game. Of course, the playoffs are always, always about clutch hitting. That’s the rub.

    • CS Yankee

      Grandy is the 7th hitter…think about that.

      I feel with Ichi, Nunie & Gardy, that they are the most balanced team out there. However if they add/play Jones and start Raul, I’ll be sadden serverely.

      Power & speed, throw in the high OBP and they are the most complete team at the dish.

  • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

    rAmen brother.

    • Cuso

      Mmm. Beef.

  • VT Yankee Fan

    The 9-15 would not have been so concerning if it were not part of a stretch from July 18-September 20 where the team played .500.

    When you play mediocre for 2 complete months it’s hard to be very optimistic about the post-season. Joe G. did well to right the ship.

  • Big Members Only (formerly RI$P FTW)

    $200 million helps a lot.

    • Steve (different one)

      Unless you’re the Red Sox.

  • Jarrod

    Haha, the work thing is so true! I live in Australia so I watch a lot of games via gameday from 9am to roughly Noon (west coast games from noon to 3pm). When the Yanks are on a slide, or an off day like today, my work productivity increases dramatically which I am sure my employer appreciates. Oh, that reminds me, I have to do some work…

  • sevrox

    Cerebral sage words. Far too often folks mistake the Yankees for Their Guiding Force, which is sad in a way. As Yankee fans, we’re pretty GD fortunate to have a team that’s substantial most of the time. Maybe 3 days off will do everybody some good.

  • Fin

    For me it wasnt the loosing that was so frustrating it was all the RISP. Its hard to watch your team put men on base every night and regularly fail to get them home. It seemed like just a handful of timely hits and the Yankees would have never even been in a race.

  • ColoYank

    All right, Joe, and all you loyal posters, I have this little trick that might make me less of a fan, but I don’t think so. Each day after a Yankee loss, I find I pay a little less attention to the specifics of that game. Oh, I keep a sharp eye on the standings, who the Yanks are playing, who’s coming up next on the schedule, etc., but the game itself, I kind of push to some other place in my psyche. I’ve been following the Yanks for an awful long time (that doesn’t make me any better or more remarkable, just older than most on this forum), and I remember Yankee teams that lost day in and day out. Think about that. They were tenth in a 10-team league my first year as a fan, and deserved every loss they took. They stank.

    Right now is a very joyous time. These games and players are so sweet to watch and enjoy … It’s an odd thing, this team and its community of fans. Like Ozzie Smith said about Derek Jeter, circa 2000. He’s (we’ve) got a very warped view of baseball, like we’re upside down on it. I like it when they compete, and do well against good competition. Honestly? As a fan, that’s all you can ask. Truly. Sit back, relax, let the games wash over you, and love the moment.

  • Tom from GA

    This is nonsense. You run a fan site. Fans are passionate. They get crazy when the team is doing well and they get crazy when they aren’t. Sports are one of the few places where we can really express our feelings fully. My opinion is that the slow pace of baseball increases the opportunity for dread and foreboding. Some of us, myself included, ride the rollercoaster of emotion with each inning, every game, all season. If that’s troublesome to you, maybe you ought to put up a warning that your site is only for dispassionate observers and everybody else should get lost.

    • Jim Is Bored

      No one said you’re not allowed to post nonsensical ravings.

      He just said that you come of as looking foolish. If that’s ok with you, carry on.