Almost a year ago, September 13, Joe Girardi was a ticked off manager. Even though the Yankees had the best record in the game (92-52) and a seven-game lead in the AL East over the Boston Red Sox, Girardi had been tossed out of a close game against the Orioles for arguing balls and strikes.
The bases were loaded in the bottom of the fourth with A-Rod at the plate. It was the third game of a three-game series against the O's and the Yankees were on the verge of being swept at home, having lost the first two by a combined score of 17-7. Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was on the mound in a 4-4 game and struck out Rodriguez on a 2-2 pitch that did appear to be outside.
Girardi came out to argue and was thrown out of the game. He got his money's worth as he stood on the field and argued with umpire Marty Foster for quite a bit of time. A-Rod was chirping from the bench and was ejected as well. The fans applauded as Girardi gave the hand motion to eject Foster and the crew chief, Wally Bell, had to step in between them at one point.
The Bronx Bombers would go on to score eight in the eighth and win the game 13-3. Sure, Girardi had been thrown out, but at least the Yankees were able to avoid the sweep at the hands of the O's.
The Yankees would finish the month of September with a 19-9 record (.679), which was their second-best record in a month behind their 21-7 August (.750). The Yankees went 11-7 to close out the regular season. They would go on to win their 27th Championship against the Phillies, with Hideki Matsui playing as if he was Babe Ruth reincarnated.
Fast forward a year and it would be an understatement to say the Yankees are in trouble heading into the postseason. A-Rod, Andy Pettitte, Nick Swisher, and countless other players have dealt with injury problems through different parts of the season, and recently their play has been downright ugly.
They have scored significantly less runs (829-763) than last season and are underperforming in the second half, with a 31-25 record (.553), which is off their first half pace of 56-32 (.636). They were a Nick Swisher home run from being swept at home by Buck Showalter's O's (who, by the way, has them playing very well), were swept by the Rangers, and lost the first game of a very important AL East series against the Tampa Bay Rays. They have tied up the series with a win and must win it tomorrow in order to take a semi-comfortable lead in the AL East.
There is no doubt that this is a very talented team and on paper the best in baseball. However, they have to start playing like it or they will be kicked to the curb by the Rangers or even the Twins very early in the postseason.
So, that brings me to the biggest question for Yankee fans and even the Yankee haters: Does this team have it in them to win it all again?
Here are my top five reasons why and possibly why not, followed up by my answer at the end: