Monday, October 1, 2012


NO EXCUSES: YANKS NEED

TO STEP IT UP

 

TO MANY FANS, ONLY A FULL ROUND OF OCTOBER BASEBALL QUALIFIES AS 'PLAYOFFS'

 

 
 
By ALAN K. STOUT
Yankees Commentary
 
I’ve had some fun and engaging conversations over the past few days with people on Facebook regarding the state of the Yankees and the American League playoffs. And those that know me best know that, come October, I’m always up for talking some Yanks.

(Well, I suppose that is also true during the other 11 months of the year.)

Anyway, here’s a synopsis of my thoughts. As always, I’d love to hear yours …

I really like the new MLB wildcard system because it gives a greater reward to the teams that win their divisions. But, under the new system, I don’t consider securing a wildcard spot to be the same as clinching a “playoff” spot. Headlines in New York are saying the Yanks are in the playoffs. Really? Securing your place in a one-game showdown to advance to the ALDS is now considered making the playoffs? Maybe I’ve been spoiled for the past 17 years, but I can’t get too excited about that. It’s nice to know that even if you don’t win the division, you’ve still got a shot at moving forward, but the playoffs – in my opinion - don’t start until the Divisional Series. Every kid does not get a trophy. And based on the calls I’ve heard being made into WFAN, it seems most Yankee fans agree. The “The Yankees are in the playoffs” talk is being scoffed at.

If winning the Wild Card leads to moving on to the ALDS, fine. Whatever  it takes. The Yanks have won the Wild Card four times and, on one occasion, in 2010, moved on to the ALCS. But that was under the old format, where winning the Wild Card - with only one Wild Card team in each league - automatically put you in the ALDS. You were, indeed, in the playoffs.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d certainly rather take a shot in a one-game elimination game than pack up and go home, and it does keep more teams alive down to the final days of the season, but I don’t consider “the playoffs” to start until the ALDS. The three-tier tournament (ALDS, ALCS, World Series) is – to me– the playoffs. If the Yanks don’t make it to the ALDS, they didn’t make the playoffs. No disrespect to teams or fans that want to celebrate a Wild Card berth, but it just doesn’t mean as much as it did for the past 17 years. You could still be going home after just one extra game.

Mike Francesa of WFAN, who I pretty much always agree with, says the Yankees are a “flawed team” this year with quite a few question marks, but adds that he enjoys that about them. I agree. Maybe they’ve limped to the finish line, but they have hung in there and battled. I like these guys.

One thing, however, that I will not do for the Yanks, should they reach the ALDS, is make excuses. I will give them a pass on the division lead eroding over the past two and a half months. You can’t lose your No. 2 starter, your No. 3 hitter and your No. 4 hitter for huge chunks of the season and not see a drop-off. I truly believe that if Andy doesn’t get hurt, he wins 15 games this year - not 5 - and the Yanks would have clinched the East a few days ago. It’d be over. And you can’t take A-Rod and Texiera out of the lineup for 79 games and not see a drop-off. With those guys in the lineup, I also think you tack on a few more wins this year and the Yanks would have clinched the East a few days ago. And remember, CC was also on the DL twice. Those aren't excuses. They are facts.

 BUT THAT IS OVER.

Everybody, except for Mo, is back. Andy is back. A-Rod is back. Tex is coming back tonight. Even Gardner is back. The team on the field tonight is the team the Yanks had on Opening Day, with the exception of a future Hall of Famer (Ichiro) in the outfield. No talk about being old and dinged up. All teams are dinged up after 159 games. Soriano - though not as lights-out as Mo – had a fine season. He filled the role of closer just fine. All hands are on deck. If they win, it’s because they built a good team. If they lose, it’s because the team they built was not good enough. The team they have heading into the postseason is the team they wanted on the field in the postseason.
No excuses.
Just  pitch.  

Just hit.

Just win.

NO EXCUSES: YANKS NEED TO STEP IT UP   TO MANY FANS, ONLY A FULL ROUND OF OCTOBER BASEBALL QUALIFIES AS 'PLAYOFFS'    ...