After all, the Yankees swept the series against the (then) division leading Toronto Blue Jays, then took the first three against the Rays by getting contributions up and down the line-up. Everyone from baby bombers Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin, to veterans Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley contributed defensively and offensively. With several come from behind wins, grit filled pitching performances and weird (unnecessary) rain delays, the Yankees made their presence felt over the past week.
This after the Yankees got rid of their best players around the trade deadline and decided to focus on 2017 and beyond. The Yankees were unambiguous in their moves. They sent a clear signal to the 2016 team and to the Yankees farm system that the plan for 2016 was to look toward 2017.
Instead the youth infusion, coupled with the willingness of the veterans to shift from everyday roles to bench players, has sparked the Yankees to within 4.0 games of the division lead and within 2.0 of a Wild Card spot (incidentally, there could be 3 A.L. East teams in the playoffs this year. Still a powerhouse division after all.)
So, yes, while in the middle of that win streak bubble, anything, and everything, seemed possible. Felt like the Yankees were somehow destined for one of those eight playoff spots. Here, on the other side of the loss to the Rays, however, while it still seems possible, it’s all the more apparent how hard that goal still could be to reach.
So here’s the truth. The Yankees have given us more than we could have dreamed of just a month and a half ago. They’ve shown us that the future is bright. They’ve shown us that Yankees pride refuses to let this team go quietly into the night for this season.
And, playoffs or not, I think that’s pretty good. So here’s all I want for the rest of September and early October: Play tough, Yankees. That’s it. Just play your hardest for every single out. Try to make the playoffs. Try until you see that “E” in the standings and, after that, try to attach that E to other teams. You’ve shown the fans that you never quit and that you understand that we don’t either. That those pinstripes still mean something to you because they still mean everything to us. For the next three weeks, leave it all on the field.
The Yankees may have started selling 2017 tickets already but the 2016 season is still going. Make it count.