Tuesday, February 13, 2018

It's here! We made it... the long awaited return of M & M

Let's be honest: At this point, a mere "winning season" would be a colossal Yankee disappointment, almost an embarrassment. Today, as camps open, the 2018 Bombers stand among baseball's highest tier - one of the rare teams expecting to win, no chance of tanking.

MLB's collective bargaining agreement has built a solid de facto payroll cap, known as the luxury tax, to keep player salaries low, while revenues skyrocket. Dilly-dilly to them. But an unfortunate side-effect is that the surest way for a team to win is by "tanking," finishing last for several years. Entering 2018, about one-third of the teams actually hope to win. Along with the Yankees, they are:

Houston, defending champs, thanks to decades of tanking.

Cubs, still clinging to 2016, after lenghty tanking.

Indians, Nats, Redsocks, Dodgers - must win now or re-tank. 

Angels, with Japanese Babe, special case, cannot tank this year.

Twins, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Rockies - tanking done! ready to go.

Mets, Mariners, Blue Jays, Cards, O's - lost in limbo, need to tank.

Thanks to the Yankees' mid-2016 tanking - and the Marlins' current tankathon - we want to win it all. It's been generations since the Yankees started spring training with two open slots - 2b and 3b - a farm system rated among the industry's best, and this much optimism.

But with hope comes the Curse of Expectations. In every model, every projection - no matter how we temper them - we Yankee fans secretly believe the 2018 team will field one of the most powerful lineups in our lives. In our fantastical private moments, we are fourth-graders, awaiting the reincarnation of the M&M boys. This is our version of the Rams' "Fearsome Foursome," or Michigan's "Fab Five." We are entering March with hopes so far beyond this planet's orbit, there is almost no way this team can compete with its expectations.

I'm imagining that two rookies - Glyber Torres and Miguel Andujar - launch future all-star careers. I'm thinking that by the time a pitcher finishes with the front seven hitters, he will be so drained that the final two - our rookies - will feast upon him. 

It won't happen, of course. Somewhere out there, huge disappointments loom. Maybe Greg Bird will miss another season. Maybe Aaron Judge will simply fail to hit. Injuries could kill our rotation, and who knows what to make of Chapman and Betances? It's a perilous path, but I'm here to say that anything less than a Divisional title will be disappointing. I've waited sixty years for a Yankee reincarnation of Mantle and Maris. This is why I became a Yankee fan. It's finally here. Mickey and Roger, Yogi and Elston, Moose and Blanchard - Judge and Jury. It's spring, and we're all 12 again. Have a Pepsi! Calgon Bath Beads, take me away!


13bit said...

We need good, inspired, focused and rabid SITUATIONAL hitting, in addition to the slugging. We need guys who come to the bat drooling at the idea of men on base. We need bunts, timely opposite-field hitting and good base running. Homers are fun, but they are not everything. Sorry to be so tedious. I'm home with a cold and the world is very monochromatic at the moment.

And NO, I'm not a fucking robot, Mr Captcha.

Carl Weitz said...

13 bit, yup, lack of fundamental baseball will lose a team enough games to finish out of playoff position. But, I'll still take what the former O's manager and head gardener once said: "What really wins games is the three-run homer"!

Parson Tom said...

So many things can go wrong there's no sense listing them all because . My bet is on mismanagement always being too smart by half.

John M said...

I'm with Parson Tom. I hope against it, but know in my heart that somehow the geniuses will fuck this up. If we win it will be in spite of our "leaders" and not because of them.

Though I guess you can say that about a lot of things.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Agreed, 13bit!

That's why I'd say one of the unsung pivots here will be Andujar.

Forget his fielding, which every cheap tabloid and internet commentator remarks on (almost all without ever having seen him field a single grounder).

If he really is a terrific average hitter, then he could be key, hitting ahead of Judge & Jury (love that one, Duque!).

Sure, it could all go bad. It always can. And the Sox are not going away, especially if they finally add J.D. Martinez. But we have, as of now, anyway, covered as many contingencies as possible, while not giving away the future.

Our management, for the first time I can remember, has done its best. Now, all we can do is humbly lay the burnt offering of Jacoby Ellsbury before the JuJu deities, and bow our heads to fate.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Oh, and in the mighty soccer war...

Nil-nil, what with the Olympics and everything.

Our total stands at...what it is in the sidebar.

And the New York Knickerbockers have another 24 games to play. Sigh.

Beana27 said...

13bit, I hope you feel better. Hey, did you ever get a dog?

Happy Pitchers & Catchers everybody!

13bit said...

Hi Beana! Thanks for remembering. Not yet, but I'm looking hard. Life is much richer when a hound is present. I'll keep you all posted.

Anonymous said...

Ah pitchers and catchers. That magical day. My equinox. The day when we all make the shift from depressed winter drinking to optimistic spring drinking.

Doug K.