Factor in the long-term talent on the line, along with the potential free agent class of 2019, and this ridiculous trip to Tropicana could be the most important three-game series of the next decade, too.
I know what you're thinking. I've gone Chicken Little. I've been smoking the Astro-Turf again. Well, this isn't just me. Across the Yankiverse, the urgency is everywhere. Here's George King in today's Daily Murdoch.
When the Yankees’ 2016 schedule came out, who would have believed three games with the Rays in late July would carry so much weight?
There is one glitch, though, in King's assessment. George says the Yankees need to win in Tampa.
He is completely wrong.
We need to lose. Preferably all three. Three blowout losses to the lowly Rays - I'm hoping for two shutouts and a shoot-out - (I don't root for the Yankees to be no-hit, though that would get the dirty job done) - with homers from Tex, Gardy and Beltran in the finale, on July 31.
The stakes have never been higher. If we sweep the last place Rays, we will climb to 5 games over .500 - giving the illusion of a team within striking distance of contending for that final Wild Card berth, the door prize of mediocrity. If we win all three, Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner can sit on the pink brocade john cover and read comic books for the rest of the summer, thinking he once again put a contender on the field.
Ah, but if we lose to the lowly Rays, realistic hopes for 2016 will vanish like sewer water draining from the sludge pond.
Lose, and Food Stamps will be pressed to sell at the Aug 1 deadline, to break up this miserable monotony of a lineup. Lose, and the Yankees can actually start building for 2018 and beyond, so maybe we won't find ourselves in the exact same position next July - chasing the final Wild Card berth, while our once-arch enemies - the Redsocks - rule the Division.By Monday, Tampa will have begun retooling through trades. The question on every Yankee fan's mind is whether two years from now, we will still be here, treading water, while the Rays are battling for a division.
Two nights ago, the YES team actually had us playing scoreboard baseball - in July. They gobbled and cooed about the Yankees being only 3.5 games out of the last Wild Card berth (though behind four teams and barely ahead of Seattle.) Well, I have news for the YES men:
The glass IS half empty. I'm already playing scoreboard in another race.
Today, there are 13 teams with more losses than the Yankees. The worst 10 in baseball will go into the winter able to sign free agents without surrendering their first-round pick in next summer's draft. Right now, we have 49 losses. We are tied with the Mariners (also with 49) for 14th worst record. We stand just three losses behind the White Sox, Royals and Rockies (all with 52.) The A's have 55, and the Angels have 56. With a three-game debacle, we can gain ground on each of them.
Instead of rooting for the last remaining Wild Card berth, I'm ready to root for the Worst 10 records, because we are just as much contenders for that thorny crown of shit.
Listen: It's horrible to be sitting here in July, rooting for the Yankees to lose. I apologize for this traitorous post. If that Republican oil can in New Hampshire is a Yankee fan, the one who wanted Hillary lined up and shot, he would probably want me waterboarded with hot oil. But our problems are long term. Our pitchers are not going to be instantly transformed by Larry Rothschild. Our old sluggers are not going to be suddenly become 28 again. If we win these three games, it won't mean a goddamn thing to the outcome of this season. But if we lose, who knows? If we lose... there is hope.