In sports or life, as an individual or as a team once you become a champion is beyond satisfying.
After many failures through dedication and hard work the sense of relief must be surreal.
Getting back there again surely loses it’s sense of urgency, that is why repeating is harder than becoming one in the first place.
The Yankees are the most winning franchise in all of sports. No other teams can really compete financially, historically, or geographically. The Yankees popularity spans worldwide, and MLB stadiums everywhere fill-up if they’re in town.
Beating the Yankees is an accomplishment on it’s on, even if it is just a regular season game. Teams put forth efforts that go unseen, but come out vs. the Bombers.
It inevitably makes the task of repeating actually much harder and the road to repeat truly tests each player’s individual character.
Certain situations and individual performances will hinder the outcome of 2010 more than others. Here are 10 that are almost crucial in winning the AL East Division:
- Steal more bases overall. Keeping the opposing pitcher distracted is key for any team, but the Yankees need to run more. Brett Gardner’s value has soared because he is such a pest on the base-pads. Curtis Granderson can be a base-stealing machine, along with the young legs of Ramiro Pena, Francisco Cervelli and the old legs of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez can cause utter confusion for opposing teams. Just look at the Tampa Bay Rays as this is the team’s specialty.
- Since the addition of RP Kerry Wood to the bullpen, the Yankees middle relievers have been dominate. Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Sergio Mitre have resonated confidence which is essential for the team’s survival. The return of Alfredo Aceves just adds to the most underrated group of players in baseball.
- AJ Burnett has to pitch with more consistency. Burnett is not being asked anything more than what he has shown in the past, aka. 2009. It is no secret that Burnett is a hothead and mentally can get in a funk. No one is trying to change Burnett because I believe his craziness is vital to his overall successful. This season, Burnett can’t keep the scale level. When Burnett implodes, it drives him to be better. Great performances can no longer heavily outweigh Burnett’s frustrations.
- The 2009 season was full of walk-off wins for the Yankees, but this is 2010 and it’s just not happening anymore. Driving in runs in the first three innings seems to dictate more wins. It means the bats have to come out swinging harder than in the past from the get-go.
- The 25-man rosters expand in two weeks to 40, meaning that non-contending teams will be bringing up rookies to test their potential. This means virgin pitchers will be on the mound and odds are the Bombers will get shutdown. This is unacceptable, embarrassing and that is a pathetic reason to get eliminated from the post-season. Harsh, but in the AL East one game might be the deciding factor in the end. Maybe the younger players need to be mixed in the line-up differently, who knows but figure it out ASAP.
- Even with less than eight weeks left the Yankees motto about the importance of winning series should stay the same. It displays consistency, keeps the team driven and hard working. Sweeping to slumping mentally challenges any team and makes the job of winning just that much harder.
- Alex Rodriguez should stay out as long as he needs to get healthy, same sentiments go for Andy Pettitte. We need these two 100%, rather than 85% and back to the DL they go. Without A-rod has caused problems in the batting line-up, but at this point in the season it shouldn’t dictate and so far it has not in the two games he has missed. This team can win, the Red Sox and Phillies have both dealt with a lot worse this season and are both still in the mix. This should not be any different in regards to the Yankees current situation.
- Skipper Joe Girardi is a great manager. Does he over manage at times? Absolutely and it drives fans crazy, but only when it doesn’t work out. Fans need to back Girardi more, but Joe also needs to listen to his gut sometimes. This kind-of a change is least likely to happen because Girardi did lead then to glory in 2009, so something must be working. It would be appreciated if Girardi could take a stance on innings limits, because at this point it is quite unclear. Just don’t mess-up Phil Hughes because Joba has clearly suffered due to the uncertainty of these ‘rules’. Ok, this is more of a personal pipe dream from a confuse fan, but hey everyone can dream.
The late great John Wooden said it best:
“Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.” – John Wooden