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May 24, 2007

Another Reason To Think "Wildcard"

Via Brian Heyman -

Boston showed up [at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night] as one of five teams in major-league history to own at least a 10 1/2-game advantage after 45 games.

Here are the five teams:

1902 Pittsburgh Pirates
1912 New York Giants
1977 L.A. Dodgers
2001 Seattle Mariners
2007 Boston Red Sox

Each of these teams - sans the pendng 2007 Sox - went on to finish first with ease.

Like I said this morning, the only way the Yankees catch the Red Sox at this point is if Boston chokes.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at May 24, 2007 01:17 PM

Comments

SL, your calm rationality is noted, however:
-You've got to wonder about schilling after last night.
-Beckett's avulsion (read: blister) problems have compromised his effectiveness in the past.
-Wakefield's last few starts have been shaky.

And the Yankees will add Hughes and Clemens in the coming few weeks.

Bottom line, they have to cut the division lead to 5 games by the all-star break. A team that is as loaded with talent as NYY can do it.

Posted by: Jason O. [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2007 02:10 PM

I think it's misleading to think about it that way. I try to think about it this way:

-What the Yankees need to do against the Red Sox head to head
-What the Yankees need to do in the rest of their games

They key to winning the East, assuming the Red Sox don't just choke like they have in the past, is dominating them in the head to head match-ups from now on.

They're 9.5 out now - if they can do something crazy like go 9-1 against them head to head, that's 8 games there.

Then they have to outplay them by a game and a half with the rest of the league.

Factor in that Boston has been extremely fortunate to not have any major injuries (like 6 week hammies or Varitek, or Manny or Ortiz) and the fact that you can argue that with a rotation of Pettitte, Wang, Clemens, Hughes, Clippard, Mussina, with legit long men like DeSalvo and potentially Igawa and even Rasner down the line, we are built for that kind of run.

Even moreso, we have beat up on Beckett, Schilling, Wakefield and Matsuzaka, although Tavarez manages to shut us down.

It certainly is a lot more feasible that then simulations would have you believe. Now we just have to win games.

Posted by: j [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2007 02:12 PM

So? Maybe this will be a first! Time for Steve to go optimistic.

Anyway, so we'll soon have Clemens and Hughes. Clemens looks to be a five inning pitcher, more work for this bullpen. Hughes is still a rookie, what he will really bring to the team remains to be seen. He will certainly hit a few bumps along the way.

Bottom line, very difficult task. The team needs to just keep winning series and they'll get the wild card. If the Bosox play poorly, suffer myriad injuries, have a month-and-a-half like the Yankees just had, then we'll see. I'm not counting on a division title in 2007.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2007 02:26 PM

I'm not ready to give up on the division just yet. I agree that the wild-card might be the most likely scenerio, however, there's still a lot of game to be played and anything can happen.

Things are going almost all too well over in Boston, eventually stuff comes crashing down. The Tigers had a huge lead on the Twins and lost the division in the last day of the season.

How the Red Sox handle adversity will be what wins them the division. If they can survive the bumps on the road, then they'll be fine. If they struggle and the Yankees get hot then the dynamics change entirely.

I keep thinking of that one line from the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!, after they bomb Pearl Harbor, the admiral of their navy fleet says, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve".

Aren't we all just waiting for the Yankees to awake? As soon as that happens, and we may all be Yankee fans and the ultimate homers, but it certainly feels that once this team wakes up that a lot of great things will happen. We are starting to see the signs, Damon is hitting, Abreu is looking much better, so is Matsui, Cano is starting to spray the ball, ARod, Jeter, and Posada are all doing their thing, and our pitching is actually pretty good.

I hope my eyes aren't deceiving me, I hope it's not all bs, I hope they pull it together and we start to see something special this year.

Let's go Yanks!!!!!

Posted by: Garcia [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2007 02:50 PM

It's way too early. The Yanks don't need to do anything drastic in their head to head matchups. If they win the 3 remaining series (6-3 total) That leaves 6.5 games to be made up over 117 games total.

Boston has pitched above its head all year long, the Yanks have under-performed. If they're double-digits behind after the break I'll worry.

Posted by: depressedfan [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2007 02:56 PM

The Yankees have somehow been shut down by Tavarez. Aside from him, they could beat the other pitchers. They should have one game 1 at Fenway before Mo blew up. They could have beaten Matsuzaka, but with Chase Wright on the mound, it was a rough day.

I wouldn't be so downtrodden.

Posted by: snowball003 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2007 03:49 PM

~~~The Tigers had a huge lead on the Twins and lost the division in the last day of the season. ~~~

Exactly. The Tigers were 12.5 games ahead of the Twins on May 24th, 2006, yet the Twins won the division. That won't show up in Heyman's stats though because of the way he phrases his statement - ignoring reality while focusing on a couple of very specific details that make his point.

It's similar to this statement --- In the history of major league baseball, a team that has won it's division for 9 consecutive years (Yanks) has never lost the division title to a team who didn't make the playoffs in the prior year (Sox). Factually true, but it's a meaningless statement.

Posted by: christopher [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2007 04:03 PM