I kept watching the Yankees-White Sox game on Monday night until the end the same way that I watched You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Funny People and Five-Year Engagement until the end.
I kept watching the Yankees-White Sox game on Tuesday night as the Yankees strung me along long enough to watch them lose a 1-0 lead as Hiroki Kuroda proved to be human before the offense left me with a case of Yankee blue balls following a failed comeback attempt in the ninth.
I kept watching the Yankees-White Sox game on Wednesday night as CC Sabathia let another lead dwindle because Joe Girardi gave him the chance to let it dwindle before Number 42 blew the lead and the game with the White Sox down to their final strike before Adam “Automatic Extra-Inning Loss” Warren blew the lead and the game three innings later with the White Sox down to their final strike again.
I kept watching these games because I thought the Yankees could get back on track in Chicago before returning home to play 11 of their next 14 games in Yankee Stadium. I thought this because I’m an a-hole.
When the Yankees left for their eight-game road trip last week I wanted at least a 5-3 record after their stops in Los Angeles, San Diego and Chicago. When they left Los Angeles after splitting the two-game series with the Dodgers, I wanted at least four wins in the six games against the Padres and White Sox. When they left San Diego after dropping two of three to the Padres, I wanted a sweep of the White Sox. When they lost the first game of the series to the White Sox, I wanted the next two. When they lost the second game of the series, I didn’t want the last one … I had to have the last one. When they lost the last one, I realized the season is over.
After starting the season 30-18, the Yankees are 27-38 since and have strung us along long enough to think that if the injury bug would take just a 15-minute break from destroying the season that the Yankees could put together some kind of run like the Rays, Royals and Dodgers have put together to turn their seasons around. But the injury bug hasn’t stopped since Curtis Granderson went down in his first at-bat in spring training and on top of the injuries to Granderson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Cervelli, Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix (I only added in the last two names to show how deep it’s gone and not because they bring much value to the team), the guys who have been healthy might as well have been hurt this whole time.
CC Sabathia has won once since June 22 despite being the “ace” of the staff and making $676,470.59 per start and $23 million this season. He leads the league in hits and earned runs and could finish under .500 for the first time in his 13-year career and will most likely post the highest ERA of his career.
Andy Pettitte has been every bit as bad as a 41-year-old starter should be and might finish under .500 for the first time in his 18-year career with the highest ERA of his career. (Hopefully his family won’t let him leave Texas this winter when it comes time to deciding if he wants to be at home or in the majors.)
Phil Hughes has continued to prove that if you’re a first-round pick you will be given unlimited chances to prove that the scouting department didn’t screw up when they touted you as a No. 1/No. 2 starter. He has a 4-10 record for a team that’s above .500 (but might not be after this weekend), has won one game since June 6 and just nine of his 21 starts have been quality starts. Over the last three years he’s been every bit as bad as A.J. Burnett was during his three years with the Yankees and if he had a five-year, $82.5 million contract he would be equally as hated.
Robinson Cano has looked anything but a guy who was supposed to carry an injury-plagued team or a guy that is supposed to be the face of the franchise for the future or a guy who is in a contract year and looking to be paid a nine-figure salary. On Wednesday night, Cano hit his first home run since July 10 and he’s 14-for-67 (.209) with six RBIs in the 18 games since the All-Star break. It’s no coincidence the Yankees are 6-12 since the All-Star break.
Despite 60 percent of the rotation being atrocious, and another 20 percent of it (Ivan Nova) only pitching well since June 23, and the Yankees’ only reliable offensive threat taking weeks off at a time in Cano, I still thought if the Yankees could tread water they would be fine. I pretended like the season would last forever and Game 162 wouldn’t come until the Yankees had clinched a playoff berth even as the losses piled up and Joe Girardi sat back and lost games with Mariano Rivera still sitting in the bullpen. (He must be saving his arm for 2014.) It wasn’t until the 10th inning on Wednesday night in Chicago that Girardi showed urgency for the first time in 2013 by asking Rivera to pitch a second inning. But last Tuesday in Los Angeles, Girardi chose not to use David Robertson for a second inning after Robertson threw just nine pitches in the eighth. Instead, Girardi brought in Shawn Kelley and four batters later the game was over. I guess that game against the Dodgers eight days prior to last night’s game was just not as important and didn’t count as much in the standings.
I also thought Jeter and A-Rod and Granderson would come back and provide a boost and that Sabathia, Pettitte and Hughes couldn’t suck forever. (Well, at least Sabathia and Pettitte.) And that’s right, I thought 38-year-old A-Rod, who’s coming off a second major hip surgery in four calendar years and who hasn’t hit a home run in the majors since Sept. 14, 2012, including the playoffs, and who has just one extra-base hit (a double against the Red Sox on Oct. 3) since then, including the playoffs, could be part of the solution to saving the Yankees. (Now would be a good time for Stevie Janowski to ask me who the eff I am for thinking that A-Rod could turn around the Yankees season at a time of desperation.) Part of this was because I remembered the last time A-Rod returned from a hip surgery and PED attention in 2009 when he turned the Yankees season around and carried them to their World Series win. (The 2009 Yankees were 21-17 (.552) without A-Rod and 82-42 (.661) with him in the lineup.) And the other part of it was that even if A-Rod came back and was as bad as he was in the 2012 postseason, he would still be better than David Adams, Luis Cruz, Alberto Gonzalez, Brent Lillibridge, Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez. But like the girl who looks attractive among her group of friends only because her friends aren’t attractive, A-Rod was never going to save the Yankees like he did four years ago. And that’s without me factoring in the negative attention focused on him for his 211-game suspension and now his appeal and the fact that he’s A-Rod and just about everyone in Major League Baseball wants a piece of him at this point the way everybody wanted a piece of Frank Lucas in in American Gangster when Richie Roberts told him, “I got a line of people wanting to testify that stretches out the door and around the block … and the only thing they hate more than you is what you represent.”
The Yankees have 49 games left. At 11 games behind the Red Sox and 9 1/2 behind the Rays, the division is out of the question and has been for a while. If the Red Sox (70-46) play .500 baseball and go 23-23 to finish the season, the Yankees (57-56) will need to go 36-13 just to tie them. But the Red Sox aren’t going to play .500 baseball and the Yankees, who haven’t won back-to-back games since July 11 and 12, sure as eff aren’t going to play .667 baseball.
And if you think the second wild card is an option (with the first wild card going to the Red Sox or Rays), think again with the Rangers holding a seven-game lead over the Yankees and with the Orioles, Indians and Royals all ahead of the Yankees.
I thought the 2008 Yankees gave me the worst summer of baseball imaginable when they became the first Yankees team to not make the playoffs since 1993 and closed out the Stadium with a meaningless September game against the Orioles. But despite the disabled list ruining most of that season and Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson ruining the rest of it, at least that team won 89 games, which was enough to win the AL Central that season and would have been enough for a wild-card berth in today’s postseason format. The 2013 Yankees have been worse and will need to go 32-17 to match the 2008 Yankees’ record and even then they will still end up closing out Mariano Rivera’s career the way they closed the old Stadium.
Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” But Yogi didn’t have to catch Sabathia, Pettitte or Hughes and he didn’t have to play with Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, Eduardo Nunez or Jayson Nix.