Saturday, July 23, 2022

On Nemesis


Throughout their long and storied history, your New York Yankees have usually battened on rivalries.

With the former Boston Pilgrims, of course, but also, closer to home, with the New York Giants, Dodgers, and even the Mets.

Over the years, many other would-be challengers have risen up—and promptly been beaten back down into the hold: the Athletics and Tigers, Indians and White Sox. Later the Orioles and Royals and Blue Jays. Even the Braves.

About the only team able to hold their own with us over the many years was the Cardinals, and even that was a close-run thing.

Not so much anymore.

As we all know, one of Brian Cashman's most sacred tenets is that the postseason is "a crapshoot"—a purely arbitrary set of series that have little to nothing to do with who is REALLY the best team in baseball. That's something decided over the course of the long season—and it's where the Yankees usually prevail.

Sadly, none of that is true anymore—if it ever was.

First, the Yanks' long-season triumphs have been coming fewer and further between for some time now.

The Bronx team has not actually finished with the best record in the American League since 2012, ten years ago, and since winning the World Series in 2009, they have only finished first in their division 3 times.

Nor is the postseason the crapshoot Coops likes to pretend it is.

Going back 20 years now, the Yankees have gone 13-15 in playoff series, with a postseason record of 59-60.

Well, hey, that sounds pretty much like a crapshoot, or even a coin flip, I hear you say. Completely arbitrary!

Not quite.


In those playoffs, the Yanks have gone 6-0 in series, winning 16 games and losing just 2, against one, particular, Midwestern franchise.

I bet you can name them.

C'mon, I know you can! That's right: the Minnesota Twins. 

Take away our beloved Twinkies, and since 2002, the Yanks have gone 7-15 in October series, with a record of just 23-38.

Huh. Suddenly sounds a lot less coin-floppy, don't it.

What's more, when you break this down, you find that the Yanks have been beaten, time and again, by their main rivals at the moment. That is, the team generally contending with them to be the best in the league.

Against the Angels, an old nemesis, the Yanks went 1-2, winning 7 and losing 8 games. 

Against Boston, which our boys have not beaten in October since 2003, they are 1-3, and 8-11 in games.

Against Detroit, which had a little run, the Yanks were 0-3, and just 3-10 in games.

And against Houston...0-3 and 5-9 in games. And counting. 

Who here does not think that—provided we manage to reach Houston in the playoffs—that record will be even worse, come this November?

Folks, we're talking an aggregate 2-11 in series, and 23-38 in games against our biggest rivals for the past 20 seasons. 

It's even worse, if you consider the fact that, when the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays raysed (get it?) their ugly heads...they also beat us in the playoffs.  Throw in those series, and the Yanks are 2-13 in playoffs and 27-45 in October against our nemeses.

Time to face facts: Brian Cashman's New York Yankees cannot win the big games. And they can't win the big games because The Brain and his boss simply will not address the fact that there are usually one or two teams the Yankees have to beat to get to the World Series.

Cashie & company like to pretend that they're above such sordid considerations, and that all they have to do is treat everybody equally, and build the best team possible, yadayadayada.

Well, bologna ain't just a city in Italy.

You have to pay attention to what your rivals are doing, and what they have, and come up with some way to beat them. PARTICULARLY at a time when baseball is more than ever about winning postseason series.

Case in point is the individual seen cavorting with his fabulous, model/wife/baby mother throughout this post.

Jason Verlander has now been the ace on FIVE, count 'em, FIVE teams that have skunked the Yankees in the playoffs since 2006. The odds are very good that he will do so again this season.

In those playoff series, Verlander has gone 4-1 against our boys, and was the MVP of the 2017 ALCS against us. But he was the guy Brian Cashman took a pass on. For Sonny Gray.

It's way, way past time to face the music, accept the fact that certain teams are our main challenges, and devise a way to beat them. Some of these means presented themselves again this off-season—who would you rather see pitching against Houston? Max Scherzer or Jameson Taillon?—and were once again dismissed.

But unless they do something about it, and quick, we're just going to see more of this again:


Kevin said...

Funny, I don't remember any talk about the playoffs being "arbitrary" back in the nineties (or going back over one hundred years). But when a GM puts together teams which are talented in one axis, but weak in others, yes, it quickly becomes "arbitrary". We had wonderfully stacked lineups in the First Decade, but our defense was at best only fair, teams with woefully thin benches and bulllpens. I've always wondered how much of Jeter's "defensive decline" was caused by Giambi taking over at first. First basemen always get under-valued by the SABR guys. We've had too many "easily found" corner infielders who can barely field their positions. Remember when Torre had to stick the "athletic" Sheffield at first base during a playoff? But the biggest failure of The Brain has to be the inability to develop starters who live for the Moment, coupled with a well-earned fear to trade for one. Playoffs are only crapshoots for the ill-prepared.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Very true, Kevin.

I remember when Coops refused to sign Jeff Nelson after 2000. And he was right: Nelson would not be effective much longer. But he had a terrific 2001; if we have him in the Series that year, maybe we win it all.

Same thing in 2003-2004. Torre wore Quantrill and especially Gordon down to nothing by the ALCS, because Cashman refused to get him any depth in the pen. Wore out Scott Proctor the same way...

HoraceClarke66 said...

His whole front-office career, Brian Cashman has been a mass of theories—all of them badÚ

—Draft injured pitchers. They'll be cheaper to sign!

—Who needs a bullpen?

—Who needs a bench?

—Who needs left-handed hitters in the new Yankee Stadium?

—The playoffs are all a crapshoot!

It's like talking to a conspiracy theorist, or the neighborhood "character."

The Hammer of God said...

I think I'll pull my hair out if I hear one more time that "the playoffs are a crapshoot".

There are several things in common with those teams that beat the Yankees like a rented mule:
(1) they have a legit ace starting pitcher, maybe two, maybe three (2) they have a great lefty bat, who the Yankees can never get out when it counts.

And when you look at the Yankees, this club never, ever, ever has an ace starting pitcher (at least not since this playoff losing skid began in 2010). Nor does it have any great lefty bat since Robbie Cano left.

So is it any wonder that those teams beat the Yankees in the playoffs like a rented mule?

On top of all that, it has now become customary for the Yankees to fall on their faces and have some kind of epileptic seizure in the second half of the regular season. We never have the best record in baseball come playoff time. Playoffs a crapshoot? Puhhhleeeeez. If that were true, then the Ass-stros wouldn't win the A.L. every year.

Kevin said...

Hoss & Hammer, right on! I only wish that The Brain could, like, "DIG" it....