N.Y. Yankees: Rough Patch or Implosion?
Baseball is the most flip-flop sport there is on the planet. One day it can be a jerk; the following day it can be a team's best friend.
But dealing with a cruel jerk over a long period of time can begin to show on the field in bewildered and frustrated faces.
Applied to the New York Yankees, devout followers of this proud franchise have to be a bit perplexed in light of the team’s recent struggles.
Perhaps the Yanks are simply enduring a rough patch during the grueling marathon that is a major league season. Perhaps injuries are plotting to swallow this usually ironclad team, or perhaps age is finally catching up with the veterans.
Whatever the cause, it is rare to see Joe Girardi and his thoroughbreds look like they did in Friday's 6-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees' body language was striking from the get-go, beginning with Girardi after a terrible strike call on shortstop Derek Jeter. Girardi simply shook his head at the umpire, who seemed to struggle finding his strike zone early on.
The Yankees were doing their best to stay positive, as if the Bronx Bombers were still flying high. But beneath this team’s usual cool, calm demeanor, they appeared about ready to boil over in frustration.
This frustration seems to be felt by New York’s fans, as well.
The crowd of 46,000-plus at Yankees Stadium tried like mad to find something to cheer about. Only a late home run by Curtis Granderson gave fans something to celebrate.
Give O's rookie Miguel Gonzalez credit. Fans mostly jeered this night. They jeered after a near error by Robinson Cano on a relatively routine ground ball. They jeered again when Nick Swisher earned a golden sombrero. Cano earned more crowd angst later in the game when he popped up with a chance to rally.
Normally crisp force plays between the keystone combo of Jeter and Cano boosted body temperature of Yankees fans.
Even Hiroki Kuroda had a look on his face like “Where the hell’s my run support?”
Safe to say, it was not a good night for the pinstripes by any measure.
With the loss to the Orioles, the Yankees fall to 75-57 on the season. On the surface, this record by no means looks like an implosion.
This is especially true when one considers the Yanks' .264 team BAA is the ninth best in baseball.
And for all of the talk about pitching woes, New York’s 3.78 team ERA is 11th best in the league.
Not to mention, only two teams in the league boast a better fielding percentage than the Yankees' .987 mark.
A closer look at the Yankees sees a team that has lost seven of its past 10 games, and is now just two games up on the pack in a competitive AL East.
Reasons for these struggles range from countless injuries, to lack of chemistry, to poor hitting when it matters most.
All these are valid reasons for the team's struggles.
But another reason could be that across-the-board parity between AL clubs is so tight, the Yankees are no longer able to simply run away with the crown like in years past.
Yet despite having just 75 wins at the end of August, it is just that: the end of August.
To say the pinstripes are imploding would be a mistake.
For the Yankees have proven time and time again throughout their proud history that they can fight back with a vengeance.
This season will be no exception.
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