LADY AT THE BAT: September Brings Back Memories of Autumns Past for Yankees

Friday, September 22, 2017

September Brings Back Memories of Autumns Past for Yankees

With the final off day of the regular season Thursday, the Yankees look ahead to the last ten games of the season starting tonight in Toronto. The road trip is just the three games in Toronto and then back home Monday for the final seven games.

Even though the Yankees have gone 14-5 in September, they remain three games behind Boston in the AL East race. Time is running out for the Yankees to catch the Red Sox. We might want to hope Houston stays close to Cleveland for home field advantage as the Astros series in Boston to close the season might be meaningful for the Astros. Wouldn't we all rather see the Astros, AL West champions already, pull out all the stops in Boston because there is still something at stake for them?

Realistically though, don't expect the Astros to  use all their regulars to the point of exhaustion just to win home field. Suffice it to say, the Astros might have to use Tyler Clippard in a high leverage situation once or twice in Boston. On second thought, using Clippard might be a bit of a stretch, given his stats in Houston, which are worse than what they were in the Bronx, but you get the point. But at least it is Houston for the final four games in Boston and not somebody like the Orioles.

So what were your thoughts on the Yankees season? My initial reaction is it's been a season of too many one run defeats and too many late game blown leads. It was also a season where, if the offense didn't produce a home run on a given night, the Yankees would most  likely lose. It was also a season where Aaron Judge seemingly hit a brick wall and his Triple Crown and MVP season went out the window. Gary Sanchez suffered through defensive lapses and lots of guys got hurt including Greg Bird and Michael Pineda. And it was a season where seemingly every move made by manager Joe Girardi was questioned.  Binder Joe, you know.

Somehow through, despite all that frustration, the Yankees can finish the season just 5-5 to win 90 games. Ninety!! That's a heck of a season. Judge is hitting again. One hundred plus of everything including runs, RBIs  and walks make Judge the Rookie of the Year favorite and still an MVP hopeful.  Sanchez and Didi Gregorius are also becoming stars. The pitching is as solid as it has been all season. But the Yankees are only the fourth best team in the American League. If you counter with the argument that the Yankees are actually better than the Red Sox, I might be willing to agree. However, Houston and Cleveland are much better than the Yankees. But it is worth mentioning that, with the current playoff system, the Yankees still have a shot at Houston and Cleveland.  It's been said repeatedly, anything can happen in a short playoff series. So it ain't over yet.

The magic number for a playoff appearance is now one, so the Yankees are post season bound for sure. Catching Boston will take a little help from some friends (or enemies, whichever)  With or without a division title it is up to the Yankees to keep the momentum going and taking out the Twins or the Angels if necessary, and make a good showing against tough competition at the next levels.  Anything is possible, we need to keep reminding ourselves.

1. The Yankees have spent many September 22nd's since they started winning pennants in 1921 thinking of the post season, more times than any other team in the sport. There have been some post seasons which have not resulted in an appearance in the World Series. In my mind the post season is not really a Yankees post season unless it results in a World Series. The Yankees have played in the fall classic forty times since 1921.

The breakdown goes like this:

Decade       Pennants      Champions
20's             6                   3
30's             5                   5
40's             5                   4
50's             8                   6
60's             5                   2
70's             3                   2
80's             1                   0
90's             3                   3  
00's             4                   2
10's             0                   0  (2017 is the 8th season)
Total           40                 27  

2. September 30th will mark the 90th anniversary of Babe Ruth hitting his 60th home run, a record for one season, which lasted until October 1, 1961, 56 years ago. There might be some debate as to the validity of that single season record being broken by both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998, and broken again three years later by Barry Bonds, but Ruth and Maris will always be a part of the Yankees legacy and we'll leave the rest of it alone for now.

3. Can you believe it's been 40 years since the Yankees won the 1977 World Series on the strength of three consecutive Reggie Jackson home runs in the clinching game six at Yankee Stadium on October 18th? You might also recall that Billy Martin benched Reggie in the deciding game five of the 1977 ALCS, opting for Paul Blair instead, just nine days before the Yankees triumph. Of course, the Yankees won that game five, rallying to beat the Royals for the AL pennant. Reggie had a key pinch hit single in the 8th inning which brought the Yankees within a run of the Royals, which was followed by the 9th inning rally that won the pennant.

4. Take a look again at the decade's numbers. You probably noticed that the Yankees have yet to win a pennant in the current decade which started in 2010. Will the decade end with the Yankees being shut out of a World Series? They are building a championship contending club which puts them on the right track. The Yankees should expect to make the playoffs in the coming years, but can they finish it off?

5. Though he hasn't played in a single game since June due to Tommy John Surgery on his non throwing arm, Gleyber Torres is now's number one prospect in all of baseball. Torres was expected to have made his Major League debut with the Yankees by this month if it hadn't been for the injury. Expect Torres to be healthy by spring training. Though Torres will likely start the season at AAA, expect an early call up, which will necessitate some shuffling of the roster. Think Yankees fans will have plenty to look forward to in 2018, and there will be lots to talk about this off season.

In the meantime it will soon be playoff time and the Yankees will be there.

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