Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Here we go: Time for a Yanknado... or Yankeegeddon

In the course of a season, there is always a handful of series that you can see coming from a vast distance, like a swirling dust storm full of rabid Curt Schillings.

Usually, it's a three-game set against Boston, or a West Coast swing, which has all the trappings of a 2 a.m. visit to an emergency room, with your stomach-pump working overtime.

Tonight, the Yankees start perhaps the most frightening series since the All-Star break: We play the mighty Tigers, our playoff nemesis in recent years, and a team that - if you compare lineups and pitching staffs - makes us look like a collection of laid-off Walmart greeters from Scranton, or maybe Wilkes Barre. Two weeks ago, the mere notion of the Yankees - with Zelous Wheeler and Chase Whitley anchoring the team photo - battling Detroit for a playoff spot, conjured a feeling of hopelessness not experienced since Alfonso Soriano last lifted a bat.

But the Tigers are floundering, to the point of hearing boos at home. And now the Yankees have won five in a row - even beating a contender (though KC did look a little cowed last night, as if they had reverted to old, Jerry Lumpe - R.I.P. - form in the presence of pinstripes.)

A mark of the 2014 Break-Even Empire has been the team's uncanny ability to follow winning streaks with losing skeins, two stutter steps forward and two stutter steps back, like an insider-trader "correction" in the price of pork commodities. If it happens again, so long, Cashman!

Over the next three nights, the team will either tie or flip past Detroit, or it will topple like convenience store beer displays in the next Napa Valley aftershock - maybe even behind Cleveland.... and Labor Day is wayyyyyy too late to be looking up at Cleveland. (Hey, it may be too late already.)

Yeah, if the Yankees win in Detroit, it only means they will live to play next week. They could tank against mighty Baltimore, or fall into the teeth of the toothless Redsocks, who'll play with nothing on their minds but spite.

But this is a week yearning to define the '14 Yankees. We either break the .500 roller coaster and make a run into September, or the post-season becomes an afterthought, and from here on in, it's just drinking heavily, chanting "Der-ek Jet-er" and pretending that its 1999. It starts tonight. Yanknado or Yankeegeddon. Who knows?

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