Opinion: The Yankees are facing elimination (again). But, we can't give up on them.
This feeling is familiar.
|Photo credit: ESPN|
After the Yankees postseasons past of 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019, I know I've been here before. The Yankees came close -- so close. Forget about ALDS- level close, they've been ALCS- level close.
And the good feelings that came with the ALWCS sweep in Cleveland, as well as the ALDS Game 1 win, are familiar too. They are reminiscent of the 2017 AL Wild Card game, when Sevy choked and then the Didi homer happened. They are reminiscent of 2019, when the Yankees went all the way to *almost* winning the ALCS against the Cheat-- I mean Astros. For the past few postseasons, the Yankees have come close enough to let us fans believe that "this year is the year" and then, it wasn't. If we were fans of, say, the Minnesota Twins, we'd be happy that we won a playoff game at all. But we're fans of the New York Yankees. And higher standards and the expectation of "World Series #28 or bust" means greater heartbreak.
So, needless to say, today feels a bit like deja vu. After Monday night's victory against the Rays, I again thought "this year is the year." This afternoon, leading up to yet another win-or-die postseason game, it's harder to think like that.
But it's not only harder to think like thanks to the ghosts of postseasons past...
It's harder because the only available starter for tonight's game is Jordan Montgomery, who is 2-3 with a 5.11 ERA and recorded 47 strikeouts over 44 IP on the 2020 regular season. It's harder because Gary Sanchez' fall from grace only continues into the postseason, and is 0-for-4/3 K. It's harder because Aaron Boone (who I normally believe gets too much hate with not enough responsibility placed on the players) and the Yankees Front Office tried to reinvent the wheel on Tuesday night by "starting" Deivi Garcia and can't get their story straight about the whole thing -- and then, JA Happ added insult to injury with 2.2 IP/5H/4R/2 HR/3 BB/2K. It's harder because I'm longing for Sevy and James Paxton and for Tommy Kahnle, because the loss of Kahnle in the bullpen went underrated by fans and underaddressed by the Yankees throughout the regular season -- leaving the middle relief situation in the hands of a real mixed bag that includes Jonathans Loaisiaga and Holder, the slumping Adam Ottavino and Nick Nelson making his postseason debut. It's harder because the Yankees put all of their postseason eggs in Masahiro Tanaka's basket on Wednesday night and he did not deliver in the way we're accustomed to, especially in October (4.0 IP/8H/5R/2HR/1BB/4K). It's harder because the Rays have owned the Yankees all season long (and bragged about it, too -- looking at you 98ers). And that's just scratching the surface. All of those things on their own are enough to make Yankees Twitter kiss the season good-bye on Tuesday night before Game 3 even happened. They're not all happening on their own... they're all happening at the same time.
However. In spite of all of the misery, there are moments of hope. There's hope in a 13th Gerrit Cole strikeout (and subsequent roar). There's hope in a Gio Urshela play in which he quite literally pulls the ball out of his ass. There's hope in every Kyle Higashioka home run. There's hope in Giancarlo Stanton grand slams and clutch three-run home runs when no one expected much out of him at all. There's hope in DJ LeMahieu Hail Mary 9th inning RBI singles when all that has to be done is to put the ball in play, and DJ does what DJ does. Lately, there's even hope in standard fare Aaron Hicks walks. And there's hope in the Aaron Judge snow cone play from Game 3 that we'll all be watching on the highlight reels for years -- showing that even when Judge hasn't been too hot at the plate, he is still giving every moment everything he has.
So, I'm probably a sucker, but all of the above is enough to give the Yanks just one more chance tonight. Yes, one chance is all they've got, but in a year filled with so much uncertainty, so much political unrest, so much sadness, so many Yankees injuries once again and with one of the most unusual baseball seasons I've seen in my lifetime, I can't give up on them just yet. Back when the Yankees were in the middle of their massive losing streak in August, a WFAN caller made an important statement that went along the lines of, we're fans when they win and we're fans when they lose. Put on your cap and root for the team.
In conclusion, I might not live tweet the game tonight because I can't deal with the negativity of Yankees Twitter. The seven-year-old version of me who fell in love with the Yankees in the 1996 World Series just came out of my heart to remind me to put on my postseason shirt and root for the team.