I'm assuming that most people reading this are baseball fans, but just in case: the New York Yankees clinched a postseason bid and an AL East division title this past Wednesday.
As fantastic as the news was, it also let New York fans relax with the guarantee of playing in October. At the start of this season, things were not as secure as usual.
Contending for the World Series is no easy task, but considering the Yankees were not playoff favorites, safeguarding a spot with seven regular season games left is dumbfounding. There are many responsible for the team’s success, from GM Brian Cashman to skipper Joe Girardi, to obviously the heart and determination of the players themselves.
Still, there are concerns, but I am not referring to who will make up the starting rotation will be for the cutthroat five-game ALDS series; or whether catcher Russell Martin will start all postseason games. What worries me is the timing.
Looking back at last season, the Yankees secured the wild card on September 27, with five games to play; it took all of those games to decide the AL East division winner.
In the end, the Tampa Bay Rays finished a game up on the Yankees. The fight for the AL East went to the last out of the regular season, which didn’t allow either team time to breathe before being thrown into the playoffs on October 6.
The Yankees swept the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS without even a hitch, and the idea of repeating as champs—or at least another meeting with the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series—seemed inevitable.
The Yankees would have to wait to start playing the ALCS—not just a day or two, but for an entire week. This also became the reality for the Phillies, and so the two best teams in baseball had to sit around for the longest length of time since the offseason.
Even as beat up and old as the Yankees and Phillies were, the extra downtime proved to be exactly what both teams didn’t need. Both teams played dreadful baseball, and in the end, the teams lost their ALCS and NLCS.
These players have virtually played daily for nine months, and the consistent routine plays a huge role in players' performance. Having so much time on their hands with either meaningless games, or no games, can be detrimental to a team's momentum.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. — Aristotle